Global impact, local SMEs
Rushika Bhatia
10X Industry

Global impact, local SMEs

How the Expo 2020 will help local manufacturers and trade. As we count down the days to one of the most anticipated events of the decade, we take a look at its potential impact on local businesses…

When you think of World Expos, the first thing that comes to mind is international links. Expos and World Fairs are a platform that is synonymous to connectivity and has always been a melting pot of cultural, business and social exchange.

As we inch closer to Expo 2020 Dubai, there have been multiple reports that anticipate its economic boost on the country. From an SME perspective, however, it is interesting to analyse the impact that an event of this scale and stature can have on homegrown trade and manufacturing. Before we delve into the potential opportunities the Expo 2020 can present for local businesses, let’s look at some statistics to set the scene:

- A Grant Thornton Report shares that 80% of survey respondents think that Dubai Expo 2020 will boost trade in goods and services through the UAE.

- EY’s The Economic Impact of Expo 2020 Dubai reports that around 20% of the on-site spending is likely to be directed toward the SME sector — the equivalent of AED4.7billion.

- HLB HAMT points out that the Expo 2020 is expected to contribute around Dh123 billion to the UAE economy in the decade after the it ends.

Impact on local trade and manufacturing

A lot of investment activity is expected to happen pre, during and post-Expo with an estimated $7 billion being invested in infrastructure developments alone. This is expected to create a fertile ground for local businesses to expand and gain exposure. Sharing his thoughts in a Deloitte Summary Report, Humphry Hatton, CEO, Deloitte Corporate Finance Limited, said: “In time, these activity levels are likely to flow through to an increase in mergers and acquisitions and other transactional opportunities, and perhaps to create pressure for greater economic liberalization and better regulation to ensure that the maximum possible opportunity is derived from this very significant event in the history of Dubai and indeed the whole of the UAE, as well as the wider region. Finally, there is little doubt in my view that the high growth and high value economies of the future will be characterized by exceptional investment in infrastructure and education, and so clearly the opportunity exists to assist with related acquisition strategies, applying a range of diligence expertise and advisory skills as necessary to build lasting value from these transactions."

On the other hand, new channels of customer acquisition will also come to the forefront as the playing field will be open to global competitors as well. Startups and SMEs from across the world are expected to bring their best innovations to attract visitors, customers, suppliers and generate business. This is going to bring an increased level of competition in the local market and drive the need for dynamic approaches when it comes to the acquisition and retention of customers.

Finally, as we see country booths prepare for their showcase at Expo 2020, local SMEs will have the early-bird advantage as they get exposed to some of the most advanced technologies in the world. These are technologies that will set the benchmark in innovation moving forward, and local businesses can get ahead of the curve by early adoption.