Coronavirus thwarts armaments plans
With a slight exaggeration, the current number one issue - the coronavirus and its spreading - is already having an impact on a number of armament companies, including the domestic ones. The gradual cancellation of exhibitions and trade fairs significantly reduces and disrupts the presentation of current trends in arms and innovations.
The IWA in Nuremberg, the leading international trade fair for hunting and sport shooting, outdoor equipment and deployment of means of protection in both civilian and institutional spheres, regularly presents everything from hunting and sporting weapons, ammunition or optics, through knives, outdoor equipment, clothing, footwear and gift items ranging from hunting to personal protection and police equipment. At the same time, this fair is the first of its kind, which was recently cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus. The reasons are obvious. At least a third of the exhibitors come from China, other exhibitors include companies from Italy and every year tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world attend the IWA. The question is whether other organisers of international arms trade fairs will follow the cancellation of the IWA fair.
Picture: A presentation of Česká zbrojovka a.s. at the IWA trade fair in 2019 | CZUB
At present, it cannot be assumed that the situation concerning the spread of the coronavirus will be quickly solved in the foreseeable future. The current situation is not helped by some of the domestic media, which sometimes unreasonably spread unnecessary panic among people. That leads to, for example, the shortage of some basic and long-life food, which the Czech residents buy in bulk.
But now back to the arms trade fairs. Another interesting event is the IDEB, which should be held in May in Bratislava. The question is whether this event will not be moved or postponed due to the current events. The IDEB trade fair is a platform which brings together products of the security and defence industry with the innovations and modern approaches in this field including the questions of cyber security and new capabilities in the armed forces and security forces.
Picture: The question is whether the IDEB trade show will not be moved or postponed due to the current events. (Pictured is the armoured vehicle by the Zetor company at the IDEB trade fair in 2018) | army.cz
Companies do not use this fair only for presentations, but it also serves as an important element in establishing and strengthening business contacts at the domestic and international level. The general public gets acquainted not only with the current military equipment of their homeland, but also of many other countries around the world, and there is usually a presentation of future technology and equipment as well. A similar trade fair in Brno, the IDET fair, can serve as an example. Last year was marked by the presentation of infantry fighting vehicles, which are participating in military tenders.
That means that these trade fairs serve not only for business, but also as massive PR towards the ordinary citizens, i.e. the taxpayers. As mentioned before, the IDEB trade fair should be held in May this year, but due to the cancellation of various fair across Europe (apart from arms trade fairs also events such as the Geneva Motor Show 2020, the watch exhibition Baselworld 2020, etc.), it is uncertain whether it will take place.
Picture: The prestigious automotive exhibition Geneva Motor Show 2020 was recently cancelled | Creative Commons CC0
In practice, cancelling/postponing security and defence industry fairs means that armaments have more limited options of presentation, which can lead to potential losses that nobody can afford. This coronavirus madness thus takes another toll.
We can only hope that the whole situation around the coronavirus will stabilize as soon as possible and everything will return to the old ways.