The Chinese Ministry of
Commerce has proposed a new set of regulations pertaining
to foreign trade shows that has some show organizers worried about
the future of their events in mainland China.
The rules, introduced on Jan. 11, apply
to trade shows that have 20 percent or more international
participants, whether as exhibitors or attendees. Requirements
* Applications for a show must be filed
six months out, and promotional materials must be approved in
advance, as well;
* Show organizers must work with a
“domestic legal person,” from an approved local agency, as a
* Organizers must follow rules that
dictate what the show’s name can be; and
* No more than two exhibitions can be
held in any city by the same organizer, for the same industry, in
the same year.
David Heilbrunn, show manager for
Bellevue, Wash.-based Coffee Fest Trade Shows, said he will need to
learn more about the rules, especially since Coffee Fest, which is
holding its first international show in Hong Kong later this year,
is considering branching out to the Chinese mainland.
“Getting advance government approval
for promotional materials is an unfortunate potential requirement,”
Heilbrunn said, “because it would push our lead time on creating
materials much further out than we are accustomed to.”
Steven Hacker, CAE, president of the
Dallas-based International Association of Exhibitions and Events,
said that while the rules could be an attempt by Chinese
authorities to help the exhibition industry avoid potential chaos,
they are troublesome and could have a chilling effect on the
momentum of foreign trade shows in China.
According to Hacker, many IAEE members
have voiced concerns regarding the proposed regulations, and IAEE,
which has an office in China, is working with the authorities there
on modifying the requirements.
“What is worrisome is how vague they
are, which allows for considerable interpretation,” said Hacker.
“For example, what defines a ‘partner’? How do they plan to enforce
these rules, and what are the penalties for break-
At press time, the Chinese government,
which had established a deadline of Jan. 28 for receiving comments
on its new rules proposal, had not given any indication when it
planned to implement them officially.