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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    18 May 2012

Exhibition Organiser predicts tripling of Asean revenue

May 18, 2012

UBM Asia, the UK-based exhibition organiser, expects its Asean revenue to triple over the next three years, making it the biggest player in the region.

M Gandhi, the managing director for Asean, said the economic downturn has made it difficult to launch new events in the West.

Only the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life science sectors are growing, while the rest of the business is stagnant, he said.

UBM has been in Thailand for 17 years, but has set up 12 other offices in six Asean countries the past year.

Mr Gandhi said each Asean country will "champion" certain sectors with company support.

For instance, Thailand is a champion for food, renewable energy and industrial machinery, while Indonesia is a champion for pharmaceuticals.

"We will treat Asean as one business, and all Asean offices will help each other and share resources," he said.

The company will launch new events in Asean, acquire existing companies and partner with existing associations, governments and individual companies.

"Most exhibition companies are family businesses. Some want to professionalise but need a worldwide network," said Mr Gandhi.

He said China's exhibition market was valued at US$1.5 billion last year compared to $220 million in India.

The combined value of the markets in six Asean members _ Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam _ was $450 million, and this looks set to increase by 6-7% this year.

Asean has nearly 600,000 square meters of exhibition space including 250,000 sq m in Thailand.

Muang Thong Thani's Impact Arena alone has 100,000 sq m of space.

China has 4.1. million sq m and India 260,000 sq m.

China and Hong Kong together represent about half the company's revenue, followed by India and Japan. Asean contributes 6-7%.

India contributes 20% of revenue after an office was opened five years ago.

Mr Gandhi said Indonesia, with a population of 237 million, will be a fast-growing market thanks to the government's new policy of attracting more investment.

The country took a more closed position in the past.

But Thailand remains an attractive location for organising exhibitions, as it is easy to operate here and has good, reasonably priced hotels, said Mr Gandhi.

"The biggest challenge I see here is people's mindset. Instead of manufacturing for Thailand, they should think about the whole region," he said.

The four-day Intermach 2012, Asean's leading international machinery and subcontracting exhibition, opened at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (Bitec) yesterday, featuring more than 1,200 companies from 35 countries.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, a deputy secretary-general of the Board of Investment, said the BoI expects 3,000 businesses to be matched at the three-day Subcon Thailand 2012, which also opened at Bitec yesterday.

This will generate 6 billion baht on high demand from factories needing to improve their machinery from the floods last year, he said.

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