China offers huge opportunities for New Zealand businesses, but too few are taking the plunge and entering the market, says Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett.
“By 2020 China will be the world’s largest economy and while it’s already New Zealand’s second largest trading partner, there is scope for far more benefit for New Zealand business,” Mr Barnett said.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with NZ INC Ltd, held the inaugural China Business Summit in Auckland on Wednesday and aimed to galvanise businesses into action and provided a platform to increase business engagement between China and New Zealand.
NZ INC Ltd director Fran O’Sullivan said the summit has achieved the objective we set to create “a new platform for New Zealand business engagement with China.”
Chaired by Mr Barnett and Fran O’Sullivan, the China Business Summit opened with an address from Prime Minister John Key who discussed the Government’s evolving China strategy and future direction.
This year commemorates 40 years of diplomatic ties with China and four years since the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China was signed. “The FTA is the starting point not the end point. We need to understand how we can better leverage that opportunity,” the Prime Minister said.
High-calibre speakers challenged current thinking and set a big-picture agenda for business and included Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, NZ Trade and Enterprise Trade Commissioner – Guangzhou Pat English, Mainfreight CEO and Deloitte/Top 200 Executive of the Year (2011) Don Braid, China investment specialist David Mahon and China strategist Alan Carroll. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce also addressed the summit on the practical steps the Government is taking to expand NZ’s business engagement with China.
Key themes emerged throughout the summit. “There were strong messages from our distinguished speakers,” Mr Barnett said. “We need to be well-prepared, we need to collaborate with other NZ businesses, we need to invest in building relationships with partners in China, we need to retain management and control of our businesses and brands in China, and we need to make our products specifically for the Chinese market, but most of all we need to be clear about our story – about the New Zealand brand.”
Break-out sessions chaired by Fran O’Sullivan and Pat English provided an opportunity for attendees to engage in practical sessions with emerging New Zealand companies doing business in China and established companies who have established a firm footprint. Fran O’Sullivan said the great lesson from the established companies was to keep on the edge of innovation, protect valuable IP, and be selective when engaging with the multitude of markets in China.
The next China Business Summit is scheduled for October 2013.
For more information visit ‘China Summit’ at www.aucklandchamber.co.nz and http://newzealandinc.com/