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HOT Issue 2 | 201219taly welcomes the World Expo in 2015, one of the world's largest events and arguably the greatest showcase of national industry and exports that a company could wish for. The country is still reeling from the effects of the global fi nancial crisis and exports into new markets will play a major role in returning Italy's economy to buoyancy. Which is why recent discussion on the purpose of the Italian Trade Commission (ICE), a public body responsible for assisting small-to-medium enterprises with their international campaigns at trade shows and events, became a hot topic at Fondazione Fiera Milano's International Forum on the Exhibition Industry at Milano Congressi (pictured), Italy, on 26 March.The ICE is the body behind Italy's national pavilions, established to provide an international platform for companies, typically SMEs, in need of assistance. If international exhibitions give a voice to companies looking to develop international business, public or quasi-public sector bodies like the ICE help them shout a little bit louder. But what happens when that support goes to Italian exhibitors or organisers trying to make money in other markets, fuelling events that do little to benefi t Italy's local economy and exhibition industry through business tourism? Isn't there a risk such public sector support actually damages local industry; that regional and national government should be working with organisers to boost the exhibition industry at home? The perils of overseas profi tsSpeaking at the event in Milan, president of Italian exhibition association Comitato Fiere Industria (CFI), Gian Domenico Auricchio, made the point that in Italy today, export is a need rather than a desire for many companies."By transporting our excellence abroad, or signing joint ventures in other countries, we expand our trade fair districts and bring national brands online in the form of trade fairs," he said. "Ninety per cent of SMEs in Italy see trade fairs as their only KEEPING IT LOCALTHE ITALIAN EXHIBITION INDUSTRY WANTS ITS PUBLIC SECTOR TO SUPPORT THE GLOBALISATION OF ITS EVENTS - BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF LOCAL EXHIBITIONS. EW REPORTS FROM MILANtool for achieving this. Our companies would not be able to grow without big trade fairs."It's a factor that has led many organisers based in Italy to launch events abroad in order to grow their own company and meet the demands of Italian exhibitors keen on establishing partnerships abroad. But Adalberto Corsi, president of the Comitato Fiere Terziario (CFT), had a word of warning for organisers looking to make their money from events abroad, drawing attention to the implications that making money from exhibitions abroad has for industry back home. Industry growth, he says, isn't dependent on helping trade missions abroad, but on bringing that business to Italy."There is a lack of internationalisation at our trade fairs," he conceded. "And while some may view this as a straightforward issue to address, it's actually a very complex one. Internationalisation has nothing to do with de-localisation. It's one thing to launch abroad, it's another thing to totally relocate."Corsi's view is that territory plays a fundamental role in the appeal of an exhibition. He believes it's the territory around the area - Milan in this case - that defi nes an exhibition. "Think of the tourism part of the equation: the hotels and restaurants. Can you imagine how a simple trade fair can help develop an entire country? The mayor of Milan described Milan's International Furniture Fair (I Saloni Milano) as a "beacon of cultural and economic development".Speaking at the event, which ran on 17-22 April at Fiera Milano, Mayor Giuliano Pisapia said it was "a strong indication of Milan's economic recovery" and a fl agbearer for Italian economic recovery. According to news agency Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Pisapia also lauded the event's high turnout saying it injected optimism and proved Milan can act as a "hub for economic recovery at a time of crisis for Italy and Europe as a whole".Organiser Cosmit attributes the 332,000 visitors in part to increased attendance by overseas sector specialists.PART OF THE FURNITURE