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Conferences canceled for outbreak

Feb 11,2020
Left: The website of the Daegu International Textile Fair announces the cancellation of the event. Right: The Coex convention center in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, has few people on Sunday. [SCREEN CAPTURE, YONHAP]
Major trade fairs and industry conferences have been postponed or cancelled due to the spread of the novel coronavirus from China, putting a dent in events industry where hundreds of billions won of deals were signed or discussed.

The delayed events include one of the country’s oldest fashion and textile fairs, which is called the Daegu International Textile Fair and Daegu Fashion Fair. It was due to be held in Daegu between March 4 and 6.

The Daegu Gyeongbuk Textile Industries Association, the organizer, said on Monday that it will cancel the annual events because of the increasing fears of the Wuhan coronavirus.

It is the first time that the event was withdrawn in its 19-year history.

The impact will likely resonate with more than 300 local textile makers and overseas buyers coming from India and China.

With the average number of visitors totaling at 24,000 and around 500 booths, the Daegu International Textile Fair generated 114 billion won ($96 million) worth of export consultations with multinational buyers from well-known brands like Uniqlo, Zara and H&M.

In 2018, the fair generated 110 billion won.

Although the event is held outside of the capital city of Seoul, it has developed into a well-known industry conference with Korean presidents visiting.

With the cancellation, the Daegu city government is scrambling to mitigate the impact.

“It could affect the fashion and textile businesses,” said a source from the city government, “So, we are looking into ways to support export for them.”

The textile and fashion sector is not alone in feeling the pinch.

An organizer of Spoex 2020, a trade fair for the sports and leisure industries, announced that the event has been pushed back to August and will be held on a smaller scale.

It was originally due to be held between Feb. 27 and March 1.

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA), a trade organization that hosts the annual event, said that it will seek to help local businesses in the sports and leisure sectors with marketing strategies.

“We plan to expand our support for marketing in order to minimize the impact the coronavirus has on the small and medium companies that are heavily reliant on exports,” a spokesperson at KITA said.

Taking cues from global tech trade shows, homegrown IT and semiconductor conferences have been either scaled down or cancelled.

Kinno Expo, an IT trade show hosted by the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency, will be delayed until further notice.

Semicon Korea, a semiconductor-focused business fair, has also cancelled, according to the Industry Ministry.

BY PARK EUN-JEE, KIM YOON-HO [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]


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