Trade fairs are ideal platforms for conducting business on a national and international scale. They provide an excellent opportunity to showcase products and services, determine market potential, scope out opportunities and competition and enter into mutually-beneficial business partnerships.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been organising various trade fairs and exhibitions for several decades now. The first trade fair it organised was as early as in 1975, when the association was known as the Association of Indian Engineering Industry (AIEI). Having recently moved to Delhi from Kolkata, AIEI was scouting for office space and was offered that by the Trade Fair Authority of India (TFAI) in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, provided it organised the engineering exhibition within the next three months! AIEI seized the opportunity, changed the format to enable promotion of business and, against all odds, put up a remarkable show. The Indian Engineering Trade Fair (IETF) in 1975 was inaugurated by the then President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, and concluded by the Industry Minister.
In many ways, the IETF became the proto-type for trade fairs, and pioneered trade fairs amongst industry associations.
Recognizing the contribution of Trade Fairs in amplifying economic growth for their Members, over the decades CII widened its portfolio of trade fairs to cover as many sectors as possible. The scope of the immensely successful IETF was expanded to make it a truly global exhibition: it was rechristened the International Engineering & Technology Fair (IETF) and the 23rd edition of IETF was successfully concluded in February 2019 at New Delhi.
Other sectoral trade fairs include the Auto Expo for the automobile sector, EXCON for the construction equipment industry, the Global Exhibition on Services to promote India’s services sector, International Mining & Machinery Exhibition to promote mining and the International Railway Equipment Exhibition to promote railways.
Most of these trade fairs have an exhibition and conference component with deliberations on policy-related issues as a very integral part of the Show. B2B meetings are almost always a key component, which enables companies to explore opportunities.
Several of these Trade Fairs are organised in partnership with the Government, and other associated bodies, each adding a different dimension and perspective to the trade fair.
The Auto Expo, for example is organised in partnership with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association (ACMA) and is by far the biggest biennial fair for the automotive industry. This exhibition was instituted in 1986, soon after the auto sector was widened with the launch of Maruti Suzuki. The first Auto Expo was held in 1986 and its success set the stage for the evolution of the show into the largest auto fair in Asia. The 15th edition just concluded in February 2020, wherein transformations through technology and other changes were showcased.
Apart from the domestic trade fairs, CII’s Trade Fairs Department has been organising several trade fairs overseas as well. CII organized the first ‘Made in India’ exhibition outside India in 1995 in Mauritius. Since then it has been organising India Shows and India Pavilions in various countries to promote the Indian industry globally.
Today CII has emerged as a leader with the largest portfolio of shows. It organises around 50 exhibitions and trade fairs in India.
In 2018, recognising CII’s contribution to business development and helping Indian industry expand its global footprint through exhibitions, the Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA) conferred on CII three awards: the ‘Top Exhibition Organizer’ in the country, and also 1st prize in India’s Top B2B Exhibition category for EXCON and 1st Runner up in India’s Top B2C Exhibition for Auto Expo. The Awards were jointly presented by IEIA and the Economic Times.
CII Trade Fairs continue to serve as excellent platforms for diverse stakeholders as industry, government, thought leaders and society get together to experience and lead changes across sectors.