Business in Asia is about networking, relationship building, and the supply of quality goods and services for an ever growing region and population.
As part of the Invercargill Sister City delegation to Suqian I was able to spend a day meeting with New Zealand Government agencies in Shanghai including representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Affairs, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and Education New Zealand to ensure we have a current market insight into business at the moment and discuss trends.
One of the challenges commonly faced by people working across the Asia Pacific region is understanding the markets, the culture, the increasing demand for certain products, and how we can align these opportunities for the region.
China is our second biggest trading partner ($1.3b behind Australia), our largest source of international students, our largest goods export market, our second largest source of visitor arrivals, our second largest total export market and the fifth largest travel destination for New Zealanders going abroad.
Our total exports have grown 9.2% mainly driven by dairy, fruit and nuts and fish and seafood. Southland and Invercargill have local companies who are leaders in meat, fish, dairy and who have been in the market for decades, establishing a reputation for their products and building relationships in markets. Expansion even further in these markets are being established through joint ventures such as Silver Fern Farms in partnership with Shanghai Maling, and other Southland companies like Alliance Group Limited who have recently bought Gold Kiwi Asia, a Singapore-based marketing company. We also have Prime Range Meats who through Cuilam Industry Limited have direct links from Southland into the Chinese market and into the restaurants.
When the delegation was in Suqian the government officials asked if we could supply mutton as well as beef. In certain parts of China there is tremendous demand for mutton and we are working with our local companies to pass on these contacts to the Suqian officials.
For international education having a direct flight from Auckland to Invercargill would be an advantage as competition internationally is affecting our region. However Southland has some incredible resources and attractions to offer student and visitors.
Some winning ways going forward were highlighted at my meetings in Shanghai. These included greater commitment from senior managers to business in Asia, the hiring of Chinese talent into New Zealand companies, a much deeper knowledge of the market (and a desire to learn), greater visibility in China, and openness to collaboration. – Paul Casson, Chief Executive, Venture Southland