NETWORKING WITH THE PRC’S CONSUL GENERAL TO CHRISTCHURCH WANG ZHIJIAN – 12TH FEBRUARY
On 12th February South Island businesses attended the NZCTA annual Chinese New Year networking event and annual address by the PRC's Consul General to Christchurch Wang Zhijian. It was an opportunity for the China engaged business community to connect and share the concerns that they had at this time around the impact of the Covid-19 on their businesses and the wider business community.
NZCTA Chair Martin Thomson and South Island representative Michelle MacWilliam talked on how the wider business community was assessing the Covid-19 and its potential trade implications, both short and long term. Consul General Wang Zhijian spoke to the South Island and China relationship and how it had developed with many regions involved in engaging with Chinese people and business entities. The Consul General provided an overview around Covid-19 and the measures that were being actioned and a discussion followed on how can we be prepared to return to trade and business engagement once we know more about the outcome of Covid-19 and its impact.
ROUNDTABLE MEETING WITH PRC CONSUL-GENERAL RUAN PING – 6TH MARCH
Consul-General Ruan Ping along with his staff from the People’s Republic of China Consulate in Auckland met with the NZCTA Chair, Executive Committee representatives and some of our members for a roundtable question and answer session and general discussion. Members of the China Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand also attended the event hosted by the Bank of China.
In response to questions, the Consul-General noted in some detail the measures China has made and continues to make to control the spread of Covid-19 and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people..
The situation is improving, new cases are declining, and some experts predict the outbreak in China will be under control in April.
The epidemic has had a significant impact on the economy especially given the timing so close to Lunar New Year and the increasing d global dependence on China as a consumer market and manufacturing supplier. The Chinese Government has outlined a number of measures in responding to the impact of Covid-19 and to ensure economic growth continues. These include each region adopting their own approach to the resumption of work and manufacturing based on local health risks and putting in place epidemic prevention and control measures, introducing policies to reduce the financial burden and provide relief assistance to micro, small and medium size firms, and stabilizing foreign trade investment – ensuring smooth operation of industrial and supply chains, simplifying customs clearance procedures, reducing port, inspection and quarantine fees and introducing more foreign exchange facilitation services.
The Consul General noted the complimentary nature of China-New Zealand economic relations and his belief that this relationship remains strong and will overcome the current difficulties and continue to develop. He reiterated that personnel exchanges are crucial to the economic relationship between our two countries, he cautioned against panic which can lead to wrong decisions, expressed the Consulate’s desire to maintain communications with New Zealand and provide further updates on China’s progress in responding to Covid-19 and lastly he thanked those New Zealand businesses and individuals who have provided valuable moral and material support to China.
The travel, tourism, hospitality and education sectors in New Zealand have been amongst the most severely impacted as noted by several representatives attending the meeting and concerns were raised about the future of many smaller operators and the lack of a clearly defined strategy in responding and preparing for future opportunities. More positively there were examples from members that business is starting to recover, shipments from China have resumed, manufacturers in NZ were increasing production of medical related equipment and supplies and there were opportunities to collaborate with Chinese partners to develop new products.
Possibly the most immediate challenge China now faces is the return of its citizens from other countries particularly from those regions where there have been severe outbreaks.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH MARK TANNER OF CHINA SKINNY – 3RD MARCH
Mark shared his insights with a small group of members and companies on some consumer trends emerging in China as a result Covid-19.
He noted that the situation in China is improving, aside from Hubei there are signs people are beginning to move about – traffic in Shanghai is back close to normal levels (albeit public transport usage remains low) and people are returning to work.
Mark talked about some consumer trends emerging as a result of Covid-19 - online sales had increased but there was some disruption due to the slowdown in distribution and logistics, there was an increase in the number of the older generation using online to purchase products, health and wellbeing had become a focus– the demand for fresh foods had increased, cooking at home had become popular, fitness companies were providing online exercise programmes, milk/dairy products were being recommended to help in the fight against the virus.
As the situation continues to improve Mark saw several different consumer patterns developing – one being people who having been in isolation for a lengthy period looking to “get out” – travelling domestically and returning to restaurants and entertainment venues – albeit with some restrictions in place. And another group who having been stuck at home are looking at home improvements.
There were several takeaways for New Zealand and our businesses – increasing interest from China in New Zealand as a “safe destination” with longer term opportunities for investment, travel and education, opportunities for food & beverage and health related companies – China is a unique market with significant demand for imported fresh foods and health products and thirdly he noted that this is a time for companies and businesses to “strategize” and make plans for the future.
It will be a gradual return to daily life, the economy has suffered and although recovery is expected, GDP growth could be around 5.6% this year. Signs that the situation is improving further include when schools resume and the reconvening of National People’s Congress meeting.
Some of the roundtable participants noted that supply chains were improving, ports were beginning to clear backloads and operate at full capacity, orders were being filled, imports resuming, and demand was high for health and wellbeing products. Challenges remain for some – travel restrictions were severely impacting airlines – with very few passengers offset only minimally by an increase in freight loads, the entertainment and hospitality sectors had been hard hit and would likely take time to recover and e-commerce cross border trade was still facing disruptions. The tourism industry particularly, was suffering and any recovery was likely to be a long way off (and compounded by the global situation).
We’d like to highlight three examples mentioned during the meeting of how companies and organizations have responded to Covid-19. HSBC offices in China have remained open (while many other banks closed) to assist companies and customers with their financial needs, China Southern Airlines continue to operate services between China and New Zealand despite very low passenger numbers – and have prioritised freight space to assist New Zealand supply medical equipment to China and Alpha Group have increased production to meet demand for masks and health related products.
FRAMING-UP POST-COVID CHINA IN 30 MINUTES – ZOOM WEBINAR 12TH MAY
Recognised China-watchers, Damon Paling and Jerry Clode, brought us a series of 30-minute updates. The focus is on how NZ business can best frame-up China post-Covid-19 lockdown. The session featured unique macro and consumer insights that allow NZ businesses to cut through the Covid clutter and confidently start planning their next moves in China.
Damon Paling is the former Trade Commissioner in Shanghai (2016-2019) and is a Beachheads Advisor to NZTE. Jerry Clode is the Founder of The Solution and is recognised globally as an expert in China’s consumer and digital culture.
WHY CHINA’S NEW NORMAL IS GREAT FOR KIWI BRANDS, ESPECIALLY F&B – ZOOM WEBINAR 3RD JUNE
A special NZCTA webinar, Jerry explained why China’s New Normal is very good news for New Zealand brands, particularly food and beverage. Perhaps the only foreigner conducting consumer research in Chinese language, Jerry Clode has a unique vantage point to observe the shifting reality of Chinese consumers. During Covid Jerry has continued to conduct research for leading brands via WeChat.
In the 30 minute session, Jerry outlined key changes in the local consumer mindset that have “shifting things” in New Zealand’s favour, creating an historical opportunity for kiwi brands to ‘get to the next level’ in China. Positive news, backed up with on-the-ground insight.
Jerry is the Founder of The Solution, a leading edge agency focused on creating well-loved brands. In his career, he has forged a reputation as a leading expert in China’s consumer and digital culture. Previously he has helped global brands such as Disney, McDonald’s, Shell and Adidas localise their brands to huge commercial success in China.
INTRODUCTION TO THE VIRTUAL CANTON FAIR AND SOURCING FROM CHINA – ZOOM WEBINAR 10TH JUNE
The 127th hosting of the Canton Fair was held online for the first time in its history from June 15 to June 24 2020. This special Zoom Webinar was introduced by the Fair organizers, China Foreign Trade Centre (Group) the virtual Fair and explained more about how buyers can register and engage with exhibitors. The webinar also featured remarks by the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of People’s Republic of China to New Zealand, a presentation by Don Graham of William Aitken & Co Ltd who has a long history of importing and sourcing products from China and with the Canton Fair.
Zhou Shanqing Vice-President of the China Foreign Trade Centre (Group)
Huang Yuefeng Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in New Zealand
Don Graham Director of William Aitken & Co Ltd
Liu Xinli International VIP Service Executive, China Foreign Trade Centre (Group)
CHINESE BUSINESS UPDATE: SIX MONTHS INTO COVID-19 – 17TH JUNE
A special “China Business Update” webinar organised by HSBC on 17th June. Jenny Xu, Head of Asia Pacific Team, International Business, in HSBC China, provided an update on what she is seeing on the ground in China.
Some of the key discussion points covered are:
• What China has experienced in the last 6 months
• The path to recovery
• How the economy is right now
• A series of government initiatives/rescue plan
• Where the opportunities lie
Jenny Xu: Head of Asia Pacific Team, International Business, HSBC China. Jenny has worked for HSBC China’s International Business team for 11 years, spending half of that time overseeing European originating businesses and the most recent 5+ years dedicated to looking after Asia Pacific originating companies based in China.
NZCTA - HKNZBA YUM CHA – 29TH JULY
NZCTA in association with the HKNZBA were pleased to hold the first Yum Cha for 2020 on 29th July. The Yum Cha event is an opportunity for members to catch up with each other and make new introductions.
WITH NEW ZEALAND AMBASSADOR TO CHINA – 28TH JULY
The New Zealand China Trade Association invited its members joining an update with New Zealand's Ambassador to China, H.E Clare Fearnley. A Mandarin speaker, Ambassador Fearnley studied in Beijing in the 1980s, and has since held several China-related roles at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – in both China and New Zealand.
During the Webinar, Ambassador Fearnley provided on-the-ground insights on trade and the economic situation in China, in the post-Covid recovery environment. The Ambassador also outlined the services that NZ Inc can offer exporters in China, given current restrictions on international travel. At the end, there was an opportunity to ask questions.
This is a unique opportunity to hear from and connect with one of New Zealand’s most experienced diplomats.
NZCTA & NORTH ASIA CAPE BREAKFAST SEMINAR WITH BRETT PIPER OF NHNZ – 2ND NOVEMBER
The North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (North Asia CAPE) is partnering with the New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) to hold a series of informal breakfast seminars in support of NZCTA members and our wider network. The first session featured an experienced NZ business executive, Brett Piper, who shared war stories on entering, meeting challenges, and succeeding in the Chinese market.
Brett is Head of Business Affairs at television documentary maker NHNZ, where he leads significant commercial interactions with China. He was previously General Counsel and Business Affairs Director at Les Mills International for fourteen years, where he oversaw LMI’s establishment of an in-market China presence. Brett has had experience dealing with a range of commercial, intellectual property, and strategic issues in China.
2020 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING : WEDNESDAY 18TH NOVEMBER – VIA ZOOM 18TH NOVEMBER
Due to Covid-19 restrictions being in place at the time of planning and organizing NZCTA AGM, NZCTA made a decision to hold the 2020 AGM online through a Zoom meeting.
The Chair and a number of the Executive Committee gathered physically on the day to host the meeting. All financial members were welcome to attend via Zoom
NZCTA END OF YEAR DRINKS – 9TH december
This year we forwent the luncheon event for the AGM and hold end of year drinks at the NZCTA office premises.
This is our final gathering in 2020 and we took the opportunity to catch up with our sponsors, partners and members to show our appreciation of their support and to say farewell to a challenging year and welcome in a new and hopefully brighter year ahead.