Companies from China, Argentina, Chile and Italy are boycotting Expo Pack México 2009 because Mexico is where the global swine flu epidemic originated, a show organizer said the week that the World Health Organization declared its first pandemic in 41 years.
The government of China has not given companies permission to attend, said José Martínez, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute's president for Latin America. [China] had SARS and I imagine they want to avoid any [more] problems.
China usually has one of the largest national pavilions at Expo Pack; some 150 Chinese companies participated in 2008.
Martínez did not give a detailed explanation for the absence of other countries' firms from the June 23-26 show in Mexico City. He said the number of exhibitors at Expo Pack will be about 700, compared with about 820 in 2008. Attendance is expected to vary little from about 30,000 last year.
The U.S., Spain, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala and Germany will have national pavilions at Expo Pack, Martínez said.
Swine flu initially was detected March 18 in Mexico City. As of June 11, according to Geneva-based WHO, 74 countries had reported 28,774 cases, including 144 deaths.
Mexico reported 6,241 cases and 108 flu-related deaths. U.S. officials reported 13,217 cases of swine flu, including 27 fatalities. Canada reported 2,446 cases, with four deaths.
Dut to the outbreak, Mexico's government suspended all activities May 1-5, except those related to law and order, health, national security and the news media. Officials further ordered schools closed for several weeks.
We believe the actions taken by our government were hard to take at the beginning, but they helped to control the spread of the virus, Martínez said. The problem is [that] the image given to the rest of the world was unfortunate for Mexico. It appeared as though we created this virus and spread it to the rest of the world.
PMMI, headquartered in Arlington, Va., has intensified its promotion of Expo Pack in Central America and Mexico in recent weeks to counter the negative publicity, he said.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will unveil details of its planned packaging sustainability ratings for Mexico June 25 at the show, Martínez said.
We're expecting at least 600 high-level executives from companies such as PepsiCo, Nestlé and Bimbo at the Wal-Mart conference, he said.
Since 2005, PMMI has owned Expo Pack México and sister show Procesa, a food and beverage processing machinery and equipment exhibition held simultaneously at the Centro Banamex venue.
EJ Krause de México organizes both events.