German companies dealing in plastics, tubes and pipes are upbeat on business potential in the Middle East.
More than 25 firms from Germany took part in the just-concluded Tekno/Tube Arabai 2009, and 50 participated in ArabPlast 2009.
Near and Middle East Trade Fairs and Symposia (VDMA) – a trade representative body, which represents 3,000 companies in Germany – has decided to open its office in the Middle East.
VDMA is doing market research on identifying the location either in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
"The Middle East market is growing steadily and becoming the logistics hub of EU, Africa and Asia. Though economic turbulence is impacting all the regions, we see Middle East becoming stronger in the next decade. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are ideal markets for us," said Dr Alexander Koldau of VDMA.
Iranian companies were the "most serious" customers at Arab Plast 2009, according to industry insiders. Companies from the resource-rich nation were primarily buying machinery used for plastics manufacturing. This is in contrast to the figures released by Arab Plast after its last exhibition held in 2007 wherein almost half of the customers were from the Gulf states.
Since oil and gas industry runs on tubes and pipes, the Middle East market is an unavoidable region for not only German companies, but the global tubes and pipes industry, according to a German trade body.
Iranian companies were also termed the most serious buyers at the Big 5 exhibition of construction industry held a month ago.
"Iranian companies comprise 70 per cent of our customers. Most serious enquiries have come from Iran," said Maurizio Mazzolini, area manager, BG Plast, an Italian Company. The ninth edition of ArabPlast and Tekno/Tube Arabia 2009, the just-concluded four-day trade fairs, has recorded several deals worth millions of dollars and 3,572 footfalls, according to Al Fajer Information and Services, the co-organiser of the fairs. The trade exhibitions have evoked mixed response among the participants from from 72 countries. Satish Khanna, GM, Al Fajer Information and Services, said: "ArabPlast and TeknoTube proved that they are not only an information gathering venue, but also turned out to be a sales platform at the manufacturing level."
However, some of the exhibitors were disappointed over reduced footfalls.
"Unlike this time, the previous trade fairs were encouraging. We expected more number of visitors. Maybe global slowdown hurt the participation. Visitor enquiries are low this time. However, the good thing about this show was that it was an opportunity to study what our competitors were doing and what our customers expect," says Scott Miller of Bronx.
Ruggero Bano, MD of German Vollmer Group participating at TeknoTube, said: "We are working for one project in Saudi Arabia. Our workforce worldwide is 700 and our Middle East operations are managed through our Italy office. We were able to build new contacts through our participation."
Taiwanese firms sold $5 million (Dh18.3m) worth of machinery products, said Taiwan Pavilion's Linda Sun.