Berlin’s Lord Mayor, Mr Harald Wolf was Wednesday taken through the stands at the Import Shop during the traditional Guided Tour of the exotic exhibition of arts and handicrafts from around the world.
Mr Wolf, who is also the Senator for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues was accompanied by the Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, Dr Christian Göke, the Project Manager of Import Shop Ms Brigitte Hahn and other officials of the Messe.
The tour began at the stand of Morocco, this year’s Partner Country where he was welcomed by Mr Tahar Amiar, Chief of Mission of Moroccan Artists. He informed Senator Wolf about the development in the Arts and Crafts scene in his country.
“Germany is one of the most important target markets of our members,” he told Senator Wolf.
The tour continued through the stands of Kenya and Ghana, two countries that are the main focus of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Import Shop when it originally began for the first time in 1962.
Around 550 exhibitors from 58 countries have come to Berlin in order to attract visitors with their products, which are as diverse as their origins. They include quality handicrafts, jewellery, clothing, natural products and special Christmas gifts.
Partners for Progress: the spirit remains the same
It all began with a special show called “Partners for Progress” at the German Industries Exhibition in 1962. Exhibitors from 18 African countries took part, launching what is now the Import Shop Berlin.
In the years that followed promoting economic ties with so-called third world countries was also one of the event’s main priorities. Thus one of the sections offered textile quotas for wholesalers at very reasonable rates. Since 2004 the Import Shop has acquired its present-day role as an exotic shopping mall for Berlin and all of Germany.
“The original slogan was ’Partners for Progress‘, and with today’s fair we still maintain that spirit“, says Brigitte Hahn, project manager of the Import Shop Berlin.
“For artists, makers of handicrafts and manufacturers from developing countries the Import Shop open the door to markets in Germany and Europe. Over the years we have also regularly supported specific development projects in these countries, among them Cairo Fashion Art, which will be introducing itself over the next few days“.
At this year’s Import Shop, artists and gallery owners are exhibiting their works, along with designers of fashion and jewellery, and of furnishings and decoration for the home.
Making its first appearance at this year’s extravaganza is the Baksi Foundation from Turkey. In addition to contemporary art and traditional Anatolian handicrafts, visitors to this stand can also purchase the latest fashions from Turkey. The clothing is all the work of a Turkish fashion designer and manufactured from traditional canvas.
Originally launched as Partners for Progress in 1962, Germany’s most exotic shopping mall opens annually in November in the halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. Last year a total of 43,000 visitors came to see, and in many cases buy, the quality articles displayed by exhibitors from 54 countries. The Import Shop is organized by Messe Berlin GmbH.
Patsy Lewis, ANA Arts Correspondent, Berlin