Russia: Exhibitions build bridges

In times of verbal confrontation it is vital to maintain a dialogue and contacts. Exhibitions play a crucial role in this, as a look at Moscow’s Expocentre halls reveals.

As of 2015 MosBuild construction fair will only be staged in the halls of Expocentre. (Photo: ITE)
As of 2015 MosBuild construction fair will only be staged in the halls of Expocentre. (Photo: ITE)

2014 has been marked by an ice age between the so-called Western world on the one side and Russia on the other side. Such a climate, including the sanctions and the weak rouble, does not necessarily create an environment conducive for exhibitions. And yet, exhibitions have taken on an important role in the current situation: “An international business platform is more important than ever, especially given the current difficult political environment,” emphasised Erhard Wienkamp, Division Director at Messe Dusseldorf, in the spring prior to the oil and gas technology trade fair Neftegaz. The Düsseldorf exhibition pros are very familiar with the ups and downs in political relations. After all, they were already active in Russia in 1963 – at a time when the Cold War determined East-West relations. Since then, various diplomatic and economic crises have had to be weathered. But they have not affected the partnership between Messe Dusseldorf and the Moscow Expocentre exhibition company (

At present, positive reports regarding the trade fair business are still coming through. Thus the plan of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade to prevent the import of sophisticated medical goods has been stopped. This is what Expocentre announces, referring to a Russian newspaper. Originally, equipment not manufactured in Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan was to be subject to a total ban. Thanks to the recent decision, foreign suppliers can now continue to participate in public tenders under certain conditions. This measure aims to promote competition and innovation in this field. It will also help exhibitors at the upcoming health and medical technology exhibition “Zdravookhraneniye”, as they may yet hope for business deals when they participate. The 24th edition of Zdravookhraneniye will be held from 8 to 12 December in Moscow at Expocentre (

Also affected by the tense situation and the economic sanctions was the Collection Première Moscow (CPM), which just took place at the beginning of September in the Expocentre. On one hand, the organisers from the Düsseldorf subsidiary Igedo suffered a 15 percent drop in exhibition space. “Given the difficult circumstances, however, we are still satisfied,” says CPM Project Manager Christian Kasch. He too stresses the current importance of exhibitions for a dialogue. At the same time, he points to another effect. National demand was actually stronger at the show. “Due to visa regulations, many Russian buyers were not able to travel to Europe,” says Kasch. Instead, many of these businesspeople visited the Collection Première Moscow (

Many Russian buyers visited the Collection Première Moscow. (Photo: Igedo)
Many Russian buyers visited the Collection Première Moscow. (Photo: Igedo)

The mutual sanctions have now resulted in a smaller shift in global trade flows. Because food from the EU is subject to an import ban in Russia, suppliers from other nations have been trying to fill the gap. In some South American countries, the new European trade barriers are perceived as a sort of stimulus programme. This development has already had a first impact on the exhibition landscape. At the just-ended food fair World Food Moscow those responsible observed a noticeable increase in various national joint stands: In addition to Argentina and Brazil, Egypt and China have expanded their exhibition space at the Expocentre guest event. “Due to the changing import situation, we experienced increased interest and an influx of last minute bookings from non-EU countries,” reports Tony Higginson. “At the same time, most companies from the European Union continued to participate,” says the Sales Director of the World Food Moscow. “They wanted to ensure their presence on the market and maintain existing contacts.”  


Whether the developments described up to now are only temporary or permanent symptoms will probably only become clear next year. That is when many significant events are scheduled. One indicator might be the construction trade fair MosBuild. Like the World Food Moscow, it is organized by the British ITE Group, whose German subsidiary is the Hamburg exhibition company GiMA ( In 2013 and 2014 the show was divided into three main sections and was scheduled, at partially staggered dates, on two different fairgrounds: “Building & Interiors” (in Expocentre) and “Fenestration” (in VVC) in the first week of events and “Cersanex” (Expocentre) in the second week. In 2015 MosBuild will go back to a format that was already tried out in 2012. Then it will again consist of two areas: “Design & Décor” from 31 March to 3 April and “Building & Architecture” from 14 to 17 April. Both events will be held only at the Expocentre ( 


Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 5/2014


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