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China Now Interview: Rob Jeffrey

China General Interest

Rob Jeffrey, a highly successful Kiwi entrepreneur and veteran of doing business with China, was recently appointed to the position of President of Export New Zealand. We talk to Rob about his new role and how Export New Zealand aims to help businesses export to China in 2008.

Rob, congratulations on your recent appointment as President of Export New Zealand. What is your biggest ambition for Export New Zealand in 2008?

To move Export NZ into stronger relationships so that by working together we can deliver quality programmes to existing as well as new exporters. Provide forums for improved networking and experienced assistance to those Companies entering new markets and lift our profile and contribution to trade matters and policy.

How prominently will China feature in Export New Zealand's strategy over the next 12 to 24 months?

China will continue to be a major source of consumer goods for the NZ market and a growing source for both componentry and finished goods for manufacturers. China will continue to be a growing market for the Food industry of New Zealand and while it may take sometime before the real benefits of the FTA to filter through, Export New Zealand will continue to provide support alongside NZ Trade and Enterprise for those Companies that are already exporting to China or are looking at expanding into that market.

What kind of specific support will Export New Zealand be providing to New Zealand businesses who are keen to enter the Chinese market?

The best support Export NZ can give those who are thinking of entering the China market is to put them in touch with experienced people who have been in the China market for sometime. Export NZ will continue to run seminars and other support services for those Companies looking at China as a possible market.

You've been involved in doing business with China for over two decades, specifically in importing & exporting. Do you have a "Top 3 Do's and Don'ts" for our readers?

Do:

  • Have patience, it takes time to build up strong relationships that are so important when trading with China.

  • Talk to those who've been in the market, especially those in your industry sector if possible and seek advice from our NZTE personnel.

  • Check your capability, do your planning and finally make a visit for a "toe in the water" experience to see if China is for you.

Don't:

  • rush off to China without looking at the "do's" above

  • get sucked in by those e-mails that want to buy half your years production

  • be afraid to ask for advice from as many people as possible. They probably did make some mistakes themselves and can pass their valued experience onto you.

Finally, what advice do you have for anyone who is at the initial stage of deciding to export their products to a foreign market like China?

China does offer some great opportunities for NZ companies. It's a market that takes time to develop. China is a big country and it is important to select the best province for you and have the right point of entry. On your first visit look at joining a trade mission or visit a Trade show which is appropriate for your business or travel with another experienced exporter on your first visit. Working together may well be your success in entry to the China market.

Thanks very much for your time Rob. It's certainly clear that we are very fortunate to have someone of your calibre as Chairman of Export New Zealand.