Vinexpo has cancelled its 2014 debut show in Beijing and may not try again in future, after failing to secure a licence from Chinese authorities.
The group had intended its June 2014 show in Beijing to mark a significant next-step in its development, beyond the bi-annual wine trade fairs it already organises in Bordeaux and Hong Kong.
However, the two-day Beijing event will not go ahead. ‘Vinexpo Overseas has not been able to secure the Chinese Government licence that it expected, through our China partner,’ the group said.
Authorities have not given a specific reason for withholding the licence. ‘We have been talking to them for the past few months and we could hardly get an answer,’ Vinexpo’s new chief executive, Guillaume Deglise, told decanter.com.
He said a call had to be made, before too many resources were committed. Vinexpo will put extra focus on its Hong Kong fair, which is set to see a 50% increase in stand space on the previous show in 2012, to 15,000 square metres.
‘Hong Kong was always our number one goal for 2014,’ he added. Vinexpo will also hold a show in Tokyo in November 2014.
Deglise was lukewarm about the idea of rearranging the fair in Beijing, despite seeing the city as an important gateway to China’s northern provinces.
‘It’s a possibility. [But], I think we need to wait until the next Hong Kong show. We expect to attract more visitors from northern China, and if we are successful maybe will not need to go to Beijing.’
Although a clear technical reason was given for the cancellation, some merchants in Bordeaux took the timing and context of the announcement as another signal of an uncertain political and economic situation in China, which some believe has manifested itself in dissipating demand for fine wine.
‘It’s not the best year,’ said Jennifer Green, area export manager in Asia for Bordeaux negociant Mahler-Besse. ‘The market is more complicated politically since the new government took over in October. Things are much less show-off.’
Deglise said that the current economic climate in China was not a main part of Vinexpo’s thinking.
(Additional reporting by Sophie Kevany)
Written by Chris Mercer