36th India International Trade Fair 2016 kicks off in Delhi

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New Delhi: The India International Trade Fair (IITF) opened on Monday amid fears that the ban on Rs 500 and Rs1,000 notes may hit business hard this year. Some traders at the IITF have hit the panic button about their prospects at the event. “We are scared. We don’t know what we will do if customers don’t have Rs 100 notes to spend because we can’t accept the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. 

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Poor, smaller vendors like me will not have the option of swiping cards at their stalls. We have invested a lot in the stall rentals and purchase of the goods. Will we even be able to sell our goods?” asked Vimla Bhat, a vendor who sells hand-embroidered kurtas.

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Other traders were not sure how the ban would affect their sales. “It is still too early to tell. This is just the first day. But yes. I am a little worried,” said Mukesh Kumar, who has a stall in the Delhi pavilion where he sells handicrafts.

The IITF was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday at Pragati Madian. Traders from 24 countries and 27 Indian states and four union territories are participating.

International vendors are also disappointed. Hakan Karpuz from Istanbul is part of the Turkey Grand Bazaar, which has elaborately decorated lights on offer, among other trinkets and things. These items can cost anywhere between Rs100 and Rs15,000. 

“We have a lot to offer, but we do not have many customers. We have come all the way from Turkey, with a lot of hope and if our trade does not go too well, we will have to face a loss. As of now only 30% customers, who visit our stalls, are buying because most others do not have the money to spend. They come with Rs500 and Rs1000 notes, which we can’t accept,” explained Karpuz.

The fair is open till November 27 though only business visitors will be allowed till November 18. The minister of state for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman, assured that the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) had made many provisions to ensure that demonetisation plan does not hurt people during the fair. “The ITPO has installed new ATMs, and has also made arrangements for cashless payments at the IITF this year,” she said while speaking at the inauguration ceremony.

Shoppers at the fair, however, were left wanting for more provisions to ease buying. Preeti Mandera, a resident of West Delhi, said even if some of the larger stalls had the option of card payment, most small stalls dealt exclusively in cash. “I don’t have cash on me for food right now. The ATM machine (in hall 18) is not working either. Where will I get cash from?” she asked.

Anjali Brar, also from West Delhi, complained that though she had cash, she still found it difficult to shop. “Nobody has change for the new Rs2000 notes,” she lamented.

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