Hull companies told of 'huge' Chinese business opportunities

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 13 Feb 2017

Companies in the Hull and Humber region were encouraged to explore opportunities to trade with China, after hearing that it offered a "huge and expanding market" for UK businesses.

Representatives from a cross-section of local businesses attended the Chinese New Year themed World Trade at 1 event, organised by Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce. It was held at the China Red restaurant, in Dunswell, when the invited audience was told that China had a fast-growing consumer market and, in the next three years, was forecast to become the world's largest luxury goods market.

Experts in the Chinese market offered insights into trading with one of the world's largest economies, outlining the opportunities and challenges that existed.

Pierre Boesinger, country manager in the UK for Altios International, a global business development firm, said: "China has a big manufacturing sector but a large part of production is for the domestic market.

"Traditional retail is still strong but there has been an explosion in ecommerce, with projections of $1tn by 2019.

"The mobile economy is also booming, with 38 per cent of online purchases made by mobile phone."

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Mr Boesinger said China's was not an easy market to enter and that local relationships were important.

"You need to take time to gain confidence and trust and to build your network," he said.

Mr Boesinger said there was a very large food and drink market to tap into and that the chemical industry was the highest growth market for foreign companies because of China's heavy dependence on imported raw materials.

James Westwood, a solicitor with Myton Law, looked at intellectual property (IP) and some of the legal aspects of doing business with China.

He said: "It is a complex and difficult market and there are risks involved, one of which is IP right infringement."

Mr Westwood spoke about the main forms of IP, issues and risks and Chinese IP law, and offered practical tips.

"It is only relatively recently that China has recognised IP rights," he said, urging people to take expert advice from those with an understanding of the market.

"There is a centuries-old tradition of communal ownership. The main risks are in counterfeiting of branded goods, copying technology and IP theft."

Paul Ferguson, sales director at John Good Shipping, said key considerations when looking to buy from China included modes of transport and the relative transit times and cost variance; the volatility of freight rate trends; customs clearance – "delays can become costly pretty quickly" – and the need for inspections, from raw materials through to finished goods and container loading.

Belinda Gabiro, a final-year chemistry student at the University of Hull, was supported by the Chamber's Sir Henry Samman Endowment Fund to study in Shenzhen, China.

She provided an insight into Chinese business culture and etiquette, including an explanation on the correct way to present a business card to show respect.

The event concluded with a Chinese lunch and networking.

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