Held in Hong Kong with 2,000 participating companies from all over the world, this year’s Gifts & Premium Fair saw the attendance of 19 Turkish firms, which received $300,000 of support from exporters’ associations.
Held between April 27-30, the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair’s participants mainly came from Asian and Far Eastern countries. It is estimated that Turkish companies made business connections that may be worth $30 million depending on how they develop their new links.
The Gifts & Premium Fair has been affected both from the global economic crisis and swine flu epidemic. Fair executives lowered booth participation rates in order to increase domestic interest. They also supported firms by road and accommodation incentives, which Turkish firms also benefited from.
The annual volume of the Turkish promotional and souvenir products industry stands at around $1 billion. Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters' Association, or IKMİB, contributed greatly to the 19 Turkish companies that attended the fair. It is said that the monetary support for the Turkish companies stood at around $300,000. Promotional Products Suppliers and Distributors Association, or Promoturk, participated in the fair with a 100-person-strong purchasing committee.
Turkish participants mainly complained that the souvenir and promotional products sector was not accepted as an "appropriate sector" in Turkey. Due to this misperception, there is no healthy statistical information on the sector. According to Promoturk coordinator Elif İçbilen, companies do not have exact figures on how much the sector exports or how big its volume is. Sector representatives anticipate that the sector exports $1 billion worth of products annually.
It is the first time that Turkey has participated in the fair nationally. Some important connections were made, according to IKMİB President Murat Akyüz. "Next time we will enlarge the field of the fair," he said. "In 2010 we will realize an important fair with Turkey as a partner country."
Turkish firms have had the opportunity to establish connections with companies from Australia, Japan and South America, regions that are normally difficult to reach out to.
Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair was expected to be sluggish due to current global conditions, but according to participants, it turned out to be just the opposite. "This year, connections and agreements were beyond expectations," said İçbilen. "It depends on the actions of the parties whether their partnerships will work or not."
"Turkey has benefited from the crisis in this fair," she continued. "Due to lower demand, orders have become smaller. That is why orders changed direction. China, which until today was producing on orders reaching millions of units, cannot take small orders. The customers have shifted toward countries like Turkey that can handle small orders."
Swine flu negatively affected the fair this year. Participants were also worried as a Mexican purchase team of 100 people was also attending.
Hong Kong stands as a bright spot for Turkish entrepreneurs. Most of the entrepreneurs are interested in shuttle trade. Because of rising interest, Turkish Airlines is preparing to increase its weekly flights to the destination from four to seven. According to Raif Karaca, Turkey’s Hong Kong consul-general, 50,000 Turks visit Hong Kong every year.