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Port Harcourt Now Trade Fair Hub As 278 Firms Participate
By Franklin Alli

More than two hundred and seventy-eight companies drawn from varied sectors of the economy are participating in the ongoing 2nd Port Harcourt International Trade Fair.  Taking place at Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the fair started last weekend and will close  December 18.

“Initially we targeted 200 exhibitors but right now, we have 278 exhibitors .   Out of the 278, companies, 78 are multinationals( from Korea, China, Italy , France, etc), while the rest are local companies from varied industries.  So we are already over subscribed, and with this, it is clear Port Harcourt International Trade Fair has come to stay,” said the President Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Prince Billy. S. Gillis - Harry.

According to Billy, this was the 19th fair being organised by the chamber in its 49 years of existence, however, he said “ this is the second edition of the international trade fair.  The previous ones had been centered on promotion of local products like herbal medicines, etc. With the huge patronage by local and foreign exhibitors,  Port Harcourt is now a hub of international trade fair business in the country.”

The chamber, he said, called on both the federal , Rivers State governments and other stakeholders to help them to get a befitting permanent trade fair complex.
“Our ambition now is infrastructure. We need to have a permanent trade fair complex, and we have taken our matter to the Presidency. President Chief  Olusegun Obasanjo, and his Vice, have encourage us that there will be a public-private sector partnership to ensure that the exhibition ground is made.  So we are looking forward to that. By the next 2 to three years we should be moving into our permanent site,” he stated.

He also said “We need the government of Rivers State to rise to the challenge and stand by us because the chamber movement in the country is patterned after the British model.  In Britain, no budget is passed by the government without consultation with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”

On Phccima’s partnership with Datacorp Limited, Billy declared “DataCorp is our consultant, and they have been performing very creditably well.  Last year, we worked with them , and the fair was successful. This year, they also won the bid .  This is not to say that they have a permanent franchise. 

No. Every year, six months before the fair , we call for bids, we look for the quality of the proposals and methods by which funds will be raised because organising fair of this nature is very expensive .  In Already we have spent in excess of N29 million to organise this segment.  Our initial budget was N20 million and we need to be sure that at the end of the fair, even though we are not profit making venture, we do not run loses.” 

As regards security of lives and property at the fair, Billy noted “As a result of the caliber and the size of participation and the contents, we have up the ante of security on the fair ground. security is operating 24 hours on the ground, protecting exhibitors and visitors
Meanwhile, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) was set up in 1957.  

 It is the second oldest chambers of commerce in Nigeria, next to the Lagos Chamber of commerce and industry (LCCI).  All round the year, the chamber is involved in a lot of activities, for instance, lobbying the governments at all tiers, to ensure that policies that are signed into law are favourable to the business community.  Any law that is unfavourable the chamber resist it by liaising with the House of Assembly, the Judiciary and the Executive arms of the government.  “Till date, we are very happy to say that all the three arms of government collaborates with us very effectively to ensure that the atmosphere of doing business is conducive to investors especially in Oil and Gas.” source said.