The U.S. government is planning its biggest stand ever at the Leipzig Fair, and a record number of U.S. companies plan to attend this key East German trade event when it opens March 11.
The U.S. Embassy here, which organizes participation by U.S. companies, has doubled its space at the fair. The embassy stand serves as an umbrella stand from which U.S. firms can do business.More than 100 U.S. companies are taking part in the one-week fair this year. They range from California Raisin and Florida Citrus to Duracell and Dow Chemical to Levi Strauss and Coca Cola.
Although the Leipzig Fair has traditionally been crucial to doing business with East Germany, that may change. The former communist government considered it essential for East German trading partners to attend the fair, even if it didn't mean new business for them.
Companies that had contracts with East Germany would routinely go to Leipzig simply to avoid offending the government.
But with the liberalization, the government pressure is gone, and Leipzig, which also hosts a fair in the fall, is likely to function like any other trade fair that competes with such fair centers as Hanover, Frankfurt and Paris.
Still, many observers expect the biannual fair to be able to hold its own, given East Germany's role as a key trading partner in the East bloc.