According to experts participating in SteelFab 2009, many international companies planning to expand into the PGCC region and Middle East are of the opinion that Iraqi reconstruction and access to the Iranian market could significantly improve business opportunities, despite a general slowdown across the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.
A few Italian companies participating in SteelFab 2009 said they are considering opening offices in the UAE to target opportunities in Iran and Iraq.
Daniele Parmigiani director of Parmigiani Macchine from Italy said that he plans to set up an office in the Sharjah Free Zone. He added that "It all depends on the regional market. I am keen to find out about the opportunities in Iran and Iraq. These are emerging markets with great potential. If I find it feasible to do business with customers from these countries it would be worth setting up an office in the UAE."
About 35 Italian firms are participating in the SteelFab under the umbrella of UCIMU Sistemi Per Produrre, the association of Italian manufacturers of machine tools, robots, automation systems and ancillary products. The Italian participation this year is 60% higher compared to 2008.
The region's construction industry is expected to get a boost with US President Barack Obama's declared intent of winding down the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and his announcement of direct talks with Iran.
Davide Orsenigo of the marketing department, UCIMU, said, "SteelFab this year has been satisfactory. We have had a few enquiries from potential customers. The situation overall is a bit gloomy and, naturally, we can see the effect here as well. There is a general slowdown in the machinery sector. We will have to wait for another 6 months to understand what is happening."
But according to him, Iran's big market presents hope to machine and tool manufacturing companies.
"There is a big market for machines and tools in Iran," he said.