This year, Project Lebanon will feature hundreds of companies from around the world, including countries officially involved under the supervision of official associations and missions plus their commercial attaché in Lebanon and the region.
The initiative taken by a number of countries to enhance the level of their presence through the participation of a number of companies exhibiting in the show, is a clear indication of the escalating interest displayed by international companies and foreign businessmen for Project Lebanon which is considered an effective tool to strengthen their presence in Lebanese and regional markets.
Italy, which is the second largest trading partner of Lebanon with around $1.5 billion worth of exports, will be engaged in the exhibition for the 11th year in a row through an official pavilion specializing in various areas of construction, along with a number of associations and trade bodies represented by official delegates accompanying the participating companies.
ifpinfo had the following interview with Ms. Francesca Zadro, the Director of ICE (Italian Trade Agency) to Lebanon, mainly discussing ICE’s role in promoting Italian companies through their participation in IFP shows like Project Lebanon 2017.
Q. How does the Italian Trade Agency in Beirut help in promoting Italian companies in general?
A. The Italian Trade Agency office in Beirut, ITA Beirut, supports Italian companies interested in entering the Lebanese market through promotional activities and assistance in finding a business partner. The Italian Trade Agency is the Government Agency that promotes the internationalization of the Italian companies, with particular attention to SMEs in line with the strategies of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development. ITA Beirut works very closely with the Embassy and its Commercial Office. Joined activities and tight collaboration maximizes the efforts in sustaining Italian SMEs.
Q. What are the advantages of participating in exhibitions under your umbrella?
A. Advantages ranges from economical support in covering part of the costs of the participation to tailored assistance in meeting potential business partner to enter the market or to strengthen the presence.
Q. What assistance and services do you provide to exhibitors?
A. To support the Italian companies participating within the Italian pavilion, ITA Beirut prepares the catalog of participating Italian companies made of 2.000 copies; ITA Beirut also plans an advertisement campaign in major local media as well as direct marketing targeting more than 2,000 businessmen in the Lebanese building and construction industry. ITA Beirut also assists all Italian participants during the exhibition through its “Italia Meeting Point” space.
Q. Have you organized a country pavilion in any of IFP Group shows in general and what was the outcome?
A. ITA Beirut has been organizing a national Pavilion in various IFP shows in different countries such as Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.
Q. What can you say about your participation and feedback at previous Project Lebanon shows?
A. ITA’s participation at previous Project Lebanon show has always been important and favorable to Italian companies in terms of new contacts acquired; consolidation of previous reports; knowledge of acquired market; presentation of new products with good sales percentages.
Q. What is the trade value between your country and Lebanon?
A. Imports from Italy in 2016 totaled 1.4 billion dollars, with 16,6% increase compared to 2015. Italy remains– as it is the case for years – the first European Trade Partner of Lebanon and the second after China.
Q. How do you asses the Lebanese market?
A. The construction industry continues to represent the engine of the Lebanese economy and despite the crisis witnessed recently, it is the only sector that registered a strong performance. In 2016, new construction permits increased by 13% and construction covered a built area of 12.3 million square meters.
It is important to note that the Lebanese market opportunities are not limited to the geographical boundary of the country but, strong family ties of the Lebanese companies, extend to other countries in the Middle East and the African continent with which Lebanon has consolidated business relationships.
Q. How do you evaluate your country’s participation in this year’s edition of Project Lebanon next May?
A. This year marks ITA’s 11th consecutive presence in Project Lebanon with a national pavilion.
According to Italian Participants in previous editions of Project Lebanon, the Lebanese market offers potential opportunities for Italian products and participation in the show ensures excellent returns. This is shown by Italian companies coming back to the show more than once within the Italian Pavilion.