Brands still under attack

Similarly, Mainfreight group MD Don Braid said his company’s brand has been “pinched” twice in China and once elsewhere in Asia.

That notwithstanding, Spierings and Braid were among host of business leaders who spoke of the widening opportunities for their organisations in China. Braid also reminded delegates that having presence in China can serve as an opportunity to build business in other parts of Asia and that Mainfreight is looking to grow its intra-Asia business in this way.

Spierings also noted that while brand rip-offs remain concern and risk, the Chinese authorities are stepping up the pace in their efforts to provide protection.

Air New Zealand deputy CEO Norm Thompson told delegates that he and several other speakers had the day before attended nationwide tourism conference at which some 20 percent of time was focused on China. “That shows its huge importance to NZ,” he said.

NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp described his agency’s ongoing initiative on “bringing the NZ brand story into sharper focus” as “difficult piece of work”. NZTE has so far interviewed around 35 NZ ‘story-tellers” including Air NZ’s Rob Fyfe and will then hand over to branding agency for the creation of more finely tuned story about NZ for people in overseas markets.

NZ trade commissioner in Guangzhou, Pat English, advised business leaders to appoint someone within their organisation as their ‘China expert’ and when in market to “think Kiwi and act Chinese”. He also strongly recommended companies to cost out any China strategy, then triple their initial budget. “Doing business in China is expensive,” he said.

2012 marks 40 years since NZ first established diplomatic relations with China. And four years after we signed it, NZ is still the only country to have negotiated Free Trade Agreement with China.

Two-way trade is now NZ$13.5 billion and still holding plenty of upside. PM John Key, who is scheduled to visit China later this year, predicts it could reach NZ$20 billion by 2015.

Further sharpening NZ’s focus on China, the NZ Government launched its NZ Inc China Strategy earlier this year.

This is only the second such over-arching national strategy (after one with India) developed to strengthen our economic, political and security relationships, and to encourage people-to-people links and two-way investment.

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