There was much excitement about the recent South Australian Shandong trade mission and fantastic lead up to the event by the Local Government Association (LGA) and Australia China Business Council (ACBC-SA) working with local government economic development staff and Regional Development Australia associations (RDAs) to communicate opportunities and work to be done to ensure success on the mission.
So what do we know? Firstly, that the South Australian Government has invested in the relationship with the Shandong Government over the last 30 years and heavily over the last 3 – 5 years. OzAsia Festival has created strong interest in cultural connections and the City of Adelaide is building on that with exchanges and trade in the arts and fashion industries. We in regional areas and in the rest of Adelaide can leverage this relationship to share in the trust established through it and fast track to business discussions.
The economic developer can assist, although the services and support offered will be a function of where the economic development role sits in the local or regional structure. From my perspective as a regional economic development organisation, we can support and guide business in a number of ways: one is to get businesses “in the zone” of participating in export trade with China or inbound visitation for tourism and education.
We can analyse free trade agreement documents and reports to better understand specific advantages for certain products or industries. We can understand China’s 13th Five Year Plan and its priorities. We can help the business community, particularly small business, to navigate its way with China and cultural protocols (City of Charles Sturt has run a good program and for a regional SA approach, see RDA Barossa “China Ready to Export” program).
Very importantly, we can encourage businesses to consider their business plan, where export sits within that, what capacity they have to scale up and how they might fund their business expansion. Do they have an appetite for growth? Do they have a viable product or service for export and exactly what is this? What is its value to the China consumer? Does it have a point of difference? Also importantly, when welcoming an inbound delegation, have they briefed and invited their local mayor? This can help cement a relationship.
Much of this is just good business planning and preparation for any export market, but with a market of the size and structure of the China market, it is feasible to develop specific ready-to-export programs for the particular market. For a new exporter, a low risk way to test market interest is through registering on the SASD Connect web-based platform to connect SMEs in South Australia with SMEs in Shandong. A degree of pre-qualification is undertaken on each side to support new entrants in the export market. Check it out at sasdconnect.com.au
There are many members of EDA-SA with experience in the China market and getting businesses ready – so your colleagues at EDA are a valuable point of contact.
Regional Development Australia Barossa