Solutions from the nation of the future

Hanover Fair has chosen India as its partner country - an extremely difficult emerging market, but for that a highly lucrative one. The industry fair provides some help with market entry.

India’s economy is gathering steam. Developing its technological competence is imperative if India is to hold its own in the global race to modernise. This offers European companies, notably medium-sized specialty suppliers, good business openings. "Lots of investments break even after only one or two years. Earnings of 30 % and above are then nothing out of the ordinary. But that is not publicised, so as not to stir up competition. People here are also reluctant to mention annual sales growth of less than 15 %, because it's considered poor performance," an economic expert at the German embassy in New Delhi explains.
As a result of these newly emerging markets the exhibition industry is developing very fast in India. "Trade fairs mirror markets," said Kurt Schraudy, managing director of IMAG at Componex/electronicIndia 2006 in New Delhi, where the number of exhibitors has soared by 40 % in the space of two years.
Whereas up until a few years ago fairs in India tended to be traditional, state-organised exhibitions, trade and industrial fairs are now blossoming. "Here in India there are already clearly too many fairs - and no calendar of events to help people find their way around. What is more, many events do not keep what they promise," says Isolde Aust de Quintela, in charge of trade fairs at the German embassy in New Delhi. She identifies particularly good opportunities to gain a foothold in the energy sector, environmental engineering, transport and logistics.
The huge need for new technologies, alternative materials and modern production processes was also apparent at the Auto Expo, which took place at the beginning of the year in New Delhi. Professional attendees showed particular interest in automobile electronics and modern measurement systems. "We are here primarily to take a closer look at the sector. Visitor interest in our quality control measurement equipment for automobile production is very high," says Florian Ehmeier, regional manager Asia at measurement equipment specialists MESA in Geretsried.
As they increasingly run up surplus capacities, new Chinese competitors are flooding fresh markets like India. 25 exhibitors from the PR of China presented their products at the Auto Expo, and Taiwan put in its first appearance with a joint stand comprising no fewer than 67 companies. Under no circumstances, however, is India the new China. It is a subcontinent with its own business culture and unique, often highly conflicting conditions. Rooted far more firmly in its tradition than the Middle Kingdom, India could soon find its tremendous social problems posing towering challenges. Roughly half its population of almost 1.1 billion is younger than 20 and will soon be entering the labour market. Yet already, only 8 % of the employable population has a formal job. Politics and state institutions are often catastrophically organised. Infrastructural shortcomings and many unexpected difficulties when doing business are the result.
On the other hand, the country has been opening up in the past few years. With help from Japanese companies an extremely innovative and efficient industry has been built up. Among the big manufacturers and many sub-contractors the basic tenets of Toyotism live on, which after the Second World War catapulted Japan's automobile industry out of total backwardness to world supremacy. Quality and productivity curves at many Indian production facilities point sharply upwards. "We still have huge room for improvement here. If, on your tour of inspection, you are struck by something that could be improved please tell us, we are grateful for your comments," is how the director of a big Indian automotive company welcomes a business delegation from Germany organised by "Forum India". "The delegates were particularly impressed by the conversations and plant inspections at Indian sub-contractors. Quality awareness is very pronounced, and Japanese production philosophies are not only bannered and quoted, but lived out," is the summary of impressions from Dirk Mayer, a partner at Forum India.
New markets hold out the promise of pioneering profit. And one of the best ways to penetrate new markets is at trade fairs. The strategy of making India the partner country at this year's Hanover Fair (April 24 to 28) is therefore a good fit. It provides European exhibitors with an easy way of making initial contacts with Indian companies and exhibitors. Conversely, Hanover Fair creates a good springboard for Indian companies into European markets.
"In exhibition hall 6 a host of Indian companies, associations and institutions will be telling us about their path forward. We look forward to them," Sepp D. Heckmann, CEO of exhibition company Deutsche Messe, Hanover, says. Presentation will focus on such sectors as energy, industrial contracting or India’s booming automotive industry. "Regardless of the branch of industry, the world eagerly awaits solutions from the nation of the future - India."
Particularly in Germany, interest in cooperation with Indian firms is enormous, Heckmann adds. "That is why, in our partner country presentation concept, we take special care to facilitate intensive bilateral contacts with Indian businesses. This includes showcasing specific investment projects, presenting growth industries and, of course, creating forums for direct dialogue." Thomas Kiefer

m+a report Nr.2 / 2006 vom 24.03.2006
m+a report vom 24. März 2006