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NZCTA Commentary: Burning bright in the year of the Tiger

Commentary

The year of the tiger is believed to bring with it mythical heroic powers. The Tiger is said to be lucky vivid, engaging and brave, ready to engage in battle and accept a challenge.

Nonetheless, Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, has struck a note of caution about the challenges ahead in the new year, with China facing complex issues in 2010, both at home and abroad. “People must keep a sober mind and an enhanced sense of anxiety about lagging behind", the premier advised.

With 8.7% growth last year, China, in trying to maintain its levels of economic growth and create jobs, must also however balance this with the need to avoid domestic inflation. Its balancing act will have to be performed in the context of a still uncertain global outlook.

Still, the new year is seen as being good for the economy. So there seems little reason why we shouldn’t forge ahead with our efforts to increase and improve the quality of our business with China.

The merchandise trade statistics, just released for the year ended December 2009, show our exports to China grew 43% and our imports from China actually declined by 5.9% during the calendar year. But our total bilateral merchandise trade with China at NZ 9.7 billion dollars grew by almost 8% and this keeps China comfortably in second place amongst our bilateral trading partners (with USA third at NZ 8.3 billion dollars).

Whilst huge increases in exports of milk powder, logs and malt extract have somewhat dominated our export growth, other exports have also increased a healthy 23%, with a good contribution from the fresh fruit sector.

So the year of the Tiger might bring a continuation of export growth, though as always we are reliant on the volatile commodity characteristics of the leading contributors. With the NZ economy showing signs of recovery, the minor glitch in the unrelenting growth of our imports from China is likely to be remedied by further growth.

NZCTA, itself, is ready to take on the challenges that the Tiger years are said to provide.

As we’ve always maintained we can’t do your business for you, but we can keep our ears to the ground on issues and continue to build up our networks, so we can confidently at least point you in the right direction.

Members consistently tell us that the prime value in joining is in the opportunities to learn more about China and interact with other China hands.

So we’re planning this year to spread our catchment area – to be more visible in areas of China activity throughout New Zealand, to be more involved with the academies and their students, where there is also valuable scholarship and research and , perhaps, most importantly, to seek areas of common interest and interaction with the Chinese business community in New Zealand.

As you already know (we hope), a Mission is planned to Shanghai Expo. This has attracted considerable interest and an update will be sent to you soon.

Website spotters will have noticed our news section is up to date and there is a new, more modern home page. Further upgrading is being prepared and there will be opportunities for members to profile themselves soon.

Our level of increased activity over the past two years would not have been possible without the generous assistance of sponsors.

HSBC, Cathay Pacific and Ernst & Young continue to support us as “gold” sponsors and Ports of Auckland, Cosco NZ and Global Visas as “silvers”. And, we’re about to be joined by a new “gold”, Mondiale Freight Services, who have long been loyal members and financial supporters of the China Trade Awards. Welcome Phil Bramwell and his team at Mondiale.

A good measure of a member-based association’s success is the length of the membership registry. Well, despite hard times last year, the list grew well in 2009. Maintaining and enhancing value for membership is our challenge in the year of the Tiger.

Gong xi fa cai!