Ambassador visit opens eyes and possibly doors for local business
Hawke's Bay businesses with an eye on the United States of America as an export market made a significant connection on Friday (4 December) when the Ambassador of the world's largest consumer nation, visited the region.
U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert spent the day in Hawke's Bay meeting with business leaders at three separate networking events hosted by ExportNZ, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Business Hawke's Bay, with a view to enabling a two-way exchange of information.
Ambassador Gilbert was keen to meet local business owners to understand the challenges faced in doing business generally from a provincial region and specifically, those faced in exporting into America.
In return, the businesses attending had the opportunity to hear the Ambassador's observations of New Zealand, the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and learn what he sees as the export opportunities for Hawke's Bay.
Over 20 Hawke's Bay business owners met with Ambassador Gilbert at an informal lunch and business round table held at the Hawke's Bay Business Hub, and over 60 networked with him at a wine tasting event held at Craggy Range Winery in the late afternoon.
The region's economic development agencies had the opportunity to learn about American investment opportunities in New Zealand, which was also held at the business hub prior to the wine tasting.
America is currently Hawke's Bay's third largest export destination through the Napier Port, with $210million of goods (10.7 percent of total exports at March 2015). Exports to China at the same date were 24.9 percent and $489million.
For ExportNZ Hawke's Bay Executive Officer, Amanda Liddle, the events provided those attending the opportunity to share stories about doing business in America and discovering possible linkages into new markets.
"One of our aims of the visit was to help build a network amongst local businesses, to create useful connections, as well as a sharing of intelligence that has tangible benefits for the export community."
NZTE Hawke's Bay Customer Director, Amanda Martin, says local businesses wanting to expand or break into the American market should talk to NZTE, whose business development managers are located in San Francisco, New York and Washington DC.
"If your company is new to exporting, or interested in expanding into the United States or other new markets, come and talk to us about what guidance and support we might be able to offer."
The recent signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) made the American market potentially more attractive for local exporters, says Susan White, Business Hawke's Bay Chief Executive.
"The TPP lowers the barriers to market entry and enables exporters to diversify their global reach and risks. America is the world's largest consuming nation, so helping local businesses learn about the market and make connections so they can tailor their offerings for American customers is a great opportunity."
Stuart Dykes, General Manager of Haden and Custance, a Hastings-based business that designs and manufactures specialised materials handling equipment for the food and diary industries and exports into America, believes there are many advantages to be gained from trading with that market.
"Scale is the thing. It's been very important for us to have a consistent stream of opportunities rather than odd one-off opportunities that might come through the door.
"Having said that, the market is big and getting around and gaining visibility and profile is more difficult. For us it's been hats off to NZTE. They've been right there with advice and both financial and practical support."
He added, "Culturally it's very easy to do business there and we've established very good, enduring relationships. It's also been nice to see that US customers look at our products as solutions and an investment, which means we can demonstrate how we can add value rather than having to work on shaving costs. It's a subtle difference but a very significant one."
David Trubridge has been exporting his designer lighting into the United States for around 10 years, initially as made up lights shipped in containers but more latterly as flat packs. He agrees that the States is "an easily accessible homogenous market" without the complications of say Europe, with its myriad of languages, taxation and bureaucracy systems.
"You need to be aware of how big the potential can be," he cautions. "You have to be able to manage scale. For us we could be dealing with one business that has 64 stores, and you have to be able to provide for that."
Mr Trubridge says that over time his company had developed a successful relationship with one distributor with many local representatives who have a good feel for the respective territories they each cover. It was important due to the size of the States to be able to adapt to the regional differences.
For more information:
Amanda Liddle, ExportNZ Hawke's Bay, 027 705 4668