Urban blight, neglected and abandoned Georgian buildings, and poor quality streetscape have long bedevilled the character of Parnell Street East, which is just off the northeast end of Dublin‘s O’Connell Street, a street apparently forgotten by Dublin City Council planners.
Be that as it may, the presence of Asian supermarkets, hair salons, internet cafes, sidewalk fruit and vegetable stalls, noodle houses, and restaurants all with their own distinctive signage also testify to Parnell Street East’s organic development over the past 20 years as an ethnic precinct.
Indeed, in many ways the bustle of daily life on Parnell Street East, the focal point for the largest concentration of the Chinese immigrants living and working in Dublin, resembles a typical Chinese (mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong included) street. The shops and restaurants provide important social gathering places for the Chinese community, while Dublin’s discerning foodies are more and more drawn to its ever expanding rich diversity of authentic and delicious Chinese and Asian eateries.
This orientation as an ethic precinct adds up to a civic asset that could be capitalised upon to incite economic growth, tourism and opportunities for new immigrants. Hitherto, Dublin City Council has yet to recognise this ethnic area as a civic asset, which sets our capital city apart from other significant international cities, such as London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris, all of which have distinguished multi-cultural Chinatown districts.
The completion of the Luas Cross City single track loop, with a Parnell Luas tram stop located in front of Marlborough House, will be an essential element in the regeneration of the precinct. It also presents Dublin City Council with a unique opportunity to build, following consultations with the Chinese and other local community stakeholders, on the ethnic character of the street by creating a vibrant district of local businesses and traders that consolidates the distinctive ethnic diversity of the precinct.
Plant more trees, consider making a space for an oriental style park or garden, play to the strengths of the street and its community. Above all talk to the residents who have reinvented Parnell Street East.
The photographs above depicting every day life on Parnell Street were shot over a two days period, March 4th and March 5th 2017 (Copyright @ Niall J. O’Reilly 2017)
In terms of Ireland – China political and trade relations 2014 was a pivotal year. The following birds-eye view draws attention to the main breakthroughs as well as offering a hunch or two regarding how the kinship can be expected to develop into 2015.
Part 1: 2014 – The year that was
Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be
– Open Sesame
– Export opportunities
– Strategic sourcing
– Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Accurate Group – China Market Makers
Part 1: 2014 -The year that was
– The year had barely commenced when China Investment Corp (CIC) and The National Pension Reserve Fund announced an investment of US$100 million in The China Ireland Technology Growth Capital Fund which is turn will invest in fast-growing Irish start-up technology companies trying to expand into China.
– Another subtle telltale sign of the improving relationship was the ChineseEmbassy in Dublin‘s anticipation of ” a need for increased facilities to carry out embassy, consular and state business“, as noted in the Irish Independent last February. It was around this time the Irish Government announced its intention to open a Consulate in Hong Kong.
– The first big dairyexport deal of the year was won by Northern Ireland‘s Dale Farm – whey protein, a deal which effectively pushed its annual exports to China up to £20 million a year.
– Chineseleasing company Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation) became the third Chinese aircraft leasing company to set up its European headquarters in Dublin..
– In March, Northern Ireland bus-maker Wrightbus of Ballymena won orders for more than 50 new buses in Hong Kong.
– While the photograph of President Higgins of Ireland being welcomed to China by President Xi Jinping in December 2014 represents the highest form of State engagement in diplomatic protocol, perhaps the most iconic image of the Ireland – China relationship in 2014 was the greening of China’s most important cultural icon, the Great Wall to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
– Meanwhile, the Bank of Ireland became the first bank in Ireland to offer business customers the facility to make payments in Chinese Yuan / RMB.
– H.E. Xu Jianguo was appointed Chinese ambassador to Ireland. Tellingly, his previous posting was as Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, the main conduit for dairy productimports into China (courtesy of a generous free trade agreement).
– However, the year wasn’t all about agriculture. Tencent, games industry giant and China’s largest and most used Internet service portal, chose Ireland’s Havok to deliver for its Iron Knight game dynamic battlefields, enhanced graphics, efficient character AI, more realistic animations and detailed destruction effects to offer players the most authentic fighting action possible. All-in-all, a huge milestone for Havok, the premier provider of interactive software and services for digital media creators in the games and entertainment industries.
– In May 30 Irish diary companies had products approved for export to China following stringent audits by Chinese authorities, a significant milestone for Ireland’s dairy industry.
– Also in May, then Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar leading a trade mission to China commented: “I think everyone accepts that sooner or later there will be direct flights between Ireland and China, most likely Dublin and Beijing...”
– …while a leading tourism survey in China observed that 62% of Chinese travellers were reasonably familiar with Ireland.
– Huawei Technologies, the leading Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services giant announced the establishment of a new R&D centre in Athlone.
– ChinaHR, the fast growing Asia-focused recruitment company owned by Leslie Buckley and Denis O’Brien, which employs 2,600 staff in 26 cities across China, was said to be mulling over plans to float in Hong Kong. There was also muted talk (but little substance) of a potential listing in Hong Kong by PCH International, which sells product development and supply chain management services – and is widely considered Ireland’s biggest exporter in China.
– On a serious note the Chinese sheep shearing team arrived in Ireland to compete for the first time in the World Sheep Shearing Championships. On a less serious note, Irish-American comedian Des Bishop wowed Chinese television audiences… in Chinese!
– H.E. Xu Jianguo, the new Chinese ambassador to Ireland, undertook a well-publicised pilgrimage to what Chinese officials consider to be Ireland’s Mecca – the Shannon Free Zone, following in the footsteps of Jiang Zemin’s 1980 trip to study the Shannon Free Zone model, which has since been adopted across China in the development of its hugely successful special economic zones.
– In June, Dublin Airport announced its intention to secure a direct air-link to China by mid-2016.
– June also saw a boost to Irish businesses as AIB Merchant Services enabled acceptance of the Chinese card UnionPay.
– During the same month a new visa to let Chinese tourists travel freely between Ireland and the UK was announced, a significant milestone for Irish tourism.
– Mr. Liu Yunshan, a leading member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, was the most senior Chinese official to visit Ireland in 2014. He was accompanied by four ministers in a delegation of fifty-one officials. Since 2011 nearly thirty Chinese Ministers or Vice-Ministers have visited Ireland. Clearly, the Chinese leadership considers a strengthening of the ties between the two nations to be of benefit for China.
– In October it was announced that China is to open a consulate in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
– On the education front, Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education and Skills’s trade mission to China in late October was a fitting backdrop to a slew of positive news announcements:
– University College Dublin (UCD) opened an office in Beijing as Irish universities sought to step up their expansion into China. UCD estimated it has 1,000 alumni in China with over 100 based in Beijing.
– Trinity (TCD) announced a new Masters in Chinese Studies and the opening of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, which it says “aim to advance Chinese scholarship and to promote Ireland as a leading knowledge centre for pan-Asian language studies and research”.
– University of Limerick (UL) also signed deals with four Chinese institutions.
– In November, as the year drew to a close, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney led a major trade mission of 37 companies to China. He also had plenty of positive news to announce:
– Kerrygold unveiled a new milk product for Chinese market, under the Chinese trade mark “Jin Kai Li”.
– UCD, Irish company Richard Keenan & Co and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences joined forces to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre with the goal of improving feeding efficiency, animal health and reduced environmental impact of dairy farming.
– Kerry Group launched a new Irish made infant nutrition product ‘Green Love’ for the China market. Produced at Kerry’s new €40 million facility in Charleville, Co. Cork. More importantly, 100 new jobs were created.
– Glanbia launched its Avonmore UHT milk brand in China.
– Richard Keenan & Co entered into a franchise partnership with Shanghai Shengmu Livestock Company, a €7 million deal to accelerate sales of Richard Keenan‘s mixer wagons across the Chinese market.
– Machinery company Samco, based in Adare, Co. Limerick, secured a purchase agreement with two companies based in Inner Mongolia, Northern China for their SAMCO maize planting machine and bio-degradable mulch film.
– Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), along with 12 Irish seafood companies, exhibiting to key buyers at the premier China Seafood Expo in Qingdao, highlighting boarfish in particular as a new viable product option.
– Irish mobile technology company Cubic Telecom signed a lucrative global agreement with China Unicom, to provide machine-to-machine (M2M) services to enterprise customers across mainland China and Hong Kong.
– Arthur Cox Listing Services acted as Listing Agent on the first Chinese transaction to list in Ireland, when China Petrochemical Corporation acted as guarantor for Sinopec Group Overseas Development (2013) Limited which listed its Dollar and Euro Senior Notes on the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE).
– Other notable deals for the island included: AB Pneumatics, a Lisburn Northern Ireland-based manufacturer of air springs for vehicle seating, won new business to supply £600,000 (€766,000) a year of equipment to Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) in Shanghai; Antrim-based Fastank won a deal to supply portable liquid storage systems for environmental clean-up operations at a major chemical plant in Shanghai; while BI Electrical, a specialist in electrical engineering services, has signed a £20 million (€25.5 million) China agreement with Keenshine in Shanghai.
– In December a team of Chinese veterinary inspectors visited Ireland to officially inspected Irish beef slaughtering and processing facilities. Irish beef producers are competing with Canadian and USA beef producers to gain China export approval. For Ireland to be the first EU member to have its beef approved for export to China would be major coup.
– The year ended on a high note with President Higgins of Ireland’s historic state visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, during which it was announced that President Xi Jinping of China had accepted an invitation to visit Ireland. (For additional insight into President Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to China click the following url: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-182)
Part 2: 2015 – The year that will be?
The one certainty in the relationship is that in the run-up to President Xi Jinping‘s return trip to Ireland, which is more likely to happen in 2016 (although with the next Irish general election expected to take place no later than 3 April 2016, the Irish Government will be pushing for President Xi Jinping to make undertake his State Visit to Ireland during the latter part of 2015) the political, economic and cultural relationship can only grow stronger. The one vulnerability is the transient Chinese economy, which although experiencing an extended period of volatility is unlikely to go off the rails.
So soon after the close of such a vibrant year in Ireland – China relations, any talk of China’s massive appetite for Ireland’s baby formula, beef, pork suddenly metamorphosing into becoming a major cash cow at this point, is greatly overstated.
Every country trading with China wants a piece of the action, and in the food and drink sector competition is set to grow in intensity. For instance, Chile recently started exporting live cattle to China, while Australia recently concluded a free trade agreement with China that will give its exporters preferential pricing similar to that already enjoyed by New Zealand exporters.
It is highly probable that 2015 will see Irish beef producers benefit from the strengthened political bond by having their produce approved for export to China. Moreover, the formal announcement of a direct air-link and a significant rise in the numbers of tourists visiting Ireland are also highly likely.
Relative to the overall size of the China market, for Irish businesses in search of China market opportunities, we would also beat the drum for:
Construction Products and Technology;
Food Technology and Ingredients;
Healthcare and Hygiene Solutions;
Industrial Components (OEM suppliers), Life Sciences, Medical Devices (class I and II);
While in the B2C space, where domestic consumption is creating opportunities for foreign brands to sell products in China, the sectors we would make a pitch for include:
Foods and functional foods sold through grocery retail, health stores and on-line.
OTC and other products, e.g. baby products, consumer medical devices and aids, cosmetics, etc. that are sold through pharmacies, parapharmacies, health stores and on-line;
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
In addition, we are of the opinion that the time is ripe for a significant FDI from China, and in this regard two words come to mind: ‘Open Sesame’
Driven out of necessity, Hangzhou-based E-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group – arguably the world’s largest online and mobile company – is activelyplotting its expansion to become a truly global company. Investments in Europe and the USA beckon. In this regard, we would be inclined to think the December visit by President Higgins and Minister of Finance Michael Noonan to Alibaba‘s headquarters in Hangzhou would have been quite effective in putting the squeeze on Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman, Alibaba Group, in considering Ireland as a possible location for further European expansion, bearing in mind that Alibaba already has an office in London’s Canary Wharf. (For additional insight into President Higgins’s visit to Hangzhou click the following url: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-18c)
Given the extensive publicity that usually accompanies a China market breakthrough for an Irish exporter, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Ireland – China trading relationship is two-way.
Long known for manufacturing cheap products, over the past few years rising labour and real estate costs, have forced Chinese manufacturers to move up the value stream. Concurrently, an unrelenting series of tainted product scandals have generated a multitude of exacting government decreed benchmark quality standards. The ensuing marked improvement in product and food safety standards represents an economic transformation that is already rekindling China’s export competitiveness. By its very nature, we foresee Irish businesses increasingly focusing on China for strategic sourcing options, which over the course of the year will gradually eat into Ireland’s trade surplus with China.
Accurate Group – China Market Makers
“Ireland is a long way away and Chinese people like to see a presence here. The first advice that we give to Irish companies coming to China is that they need to commit to the market. They are not going to come in and make a quick buck.”
The only way to succeed in China is to be aware and prepared – and to be on the ground. With this vital rule of thumb in mind, in 2014 Accurate Group, which is based in Hangzhou and Shanghai, was directly involved in developing China trade worth up to €4 million for Ireland’s food and drink sectors.
– By Niall O’Reilly
Niall O’Reilly is the Managing Director of Accurate Group, China Market Makers, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association, has been based in Hangzhou since 2007.
The State Visit, the highest form of engagement, in diplomatic protocol, that one country can have with another, will be the 3rd overseas State Visit since the President of Ireland took office and is recognition of the warm relationship Ireland enjoys with the People’s Republic of China encompassing all aspects of the exchanges between Ireland and China in culture, education, trade and investment.
The President’s programme in China, which officially commences in Beijing on Sunday 7th December, will include State ceremonies, cultural, educational and business events, such as an Irish Cultural Performance in Beijing‘s Forbidden City Concert Hall, and Enterprise Ireland / IDA Ireland business and Embassy of Ireland Irish community receptions. A state dinner in his honour, hosted by the President Xi Jinping and Madame Ping will be held on Tuesday 19th December. On Thursday, 11th December, the Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai will host a reception for the Irish community, while on Friday 12th the President will visit the third city involved in the State Visit, Hangzhou. In Hangzhou, President Higgins will visit Alibaba, and have a meeting with Mr. Jack Ma its founder and Executive Chairman. Staying overnight in Hangzhou – perhaps at the West Lake State Guest House where Nixon and Mao signed the historic “3 Joint Communiques” in 1972– on Saturday he will visit the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, which dates back to 328AD, take a Bronze Dragon Boat trip on Hangzhou’s spectacular West Lake, followed by a visit to a Longjing Tea Plantation before returning to Shanghai by bullet train. President Higgins will return to Ireland on Monday, 15th of December.
The importance of high-level diplomatic visits between the Ireland and China, which are helping to widen and deepen bilateral relations, cannot be overstated, and in our opinion a substantial trade spin-off can be expected to follow this major State Visit. Real potential exists for further enhancing the relationship between Ireland and China in Ireland’s niche industry sectors such as energy and green technologies, food and agriculture, financial services and aviation leasing, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, educational services, and tourism.
During his momentous visit to China President Higgins can be expected to emphasise the importance of trade links, and, more importantly from a Chinese perspective, growing mutual trust, while encouraging even greater economic co-operation between China and Ireland.
While there is considerable optimism in Ireland’s agri-food sector about Ireland having the potential to resolve problems of food security in China, New Zealand’s and, most recently, Australia’s free trade agreements with China serve to highlight the daunting task Ireland dairy and meat producers face gaining traction in such an intensely competitive market. As Mark Twain observed “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement”. However, one point President Higgins is very good at is talking up Ireland and he will have separate official meetings at the Great Hall of the People with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister, Mr Li Keqiang and the Chairman of the National People’s Congress, Mr Zhang Dejiang, the three most powerful people in China.
“both countries enjoy an excellent political, business and cultural relationship, much to the envy of Ireland’s European partners”.
Firstly, China’s political leaders are clearly impressed by Ireland’s ongoing economic renewal brought about by the country’s strict adherence to fulfilling its commitments as an international Monetary Fund (IMF) country programme country, as recognized by the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the European Commission. From an export dependency perspective, China has a vested interest in the European Union’s rapid return to growth and in this context Ireland is a shining beacon of light.
Secondly, such positive awareness dovetails with the ‘Irish Model’ that has proved so successful in the development of China’s own special economic zones areas. In Chinese political circles, whether we realise it or not, Ireland has made an important contribution to China’s economic development. In 1980, a visit by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, then Senior Vice Minister of State Imports and Exports Administration, to the ‘Shannon Free Zone’ (the world’s first free trade zone) paved the way for Chinese companies to import goods into a special economic zone, manufacture or reconfigure the goods, and then export them without intervention of the customs authorities. The resulting export-led growth has delivered an economy that has experienced the fastest expansion in GDP per capita of any major economy in human history. In recent times after years of economic expansion China’s economic growth rate has being losing speed, in part due to a decline in demand for its exports from key markets. To stall the slowdown new economic prototypes are being assessed such as the fledgling Shanghai Free-Trade Zone that bears characteristics that can be traced back to the ‘Shannon-Free Zone’. The February 2012 visit to the Shannon Development Zone by President Xi Jinping, then Vice President of China, was no mere happenstance.
Thirdly, Ireland currently enjoys a unique position in Europe between two of China’s traditional rivals, the USA and the UK, which for China represents a “soft power” relationship it is determined to make the most of over the long-term.
Fourthly, in addition that Ireland is the only English speaking country in the Euro zone enjoying tariff and border free trade across the European Union makes for a useful entry point into the European market of 500 millions. However, from this perspective Ireland has yet to notch up any significant Chinese investments, a point that President Higgins will no doubt be highlighting during his meetings with China’s political elites.
During the second week of December Ireland will take centre stage in China like never before.
This is a huge vote of confidence in Ireland’s future economic vitality. Yet, what’s even more significant is the way this has played out since 2011.
China‘s state media made great play out of the leaders of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy going ‘cap in hand’ to Beijing in search of China Investment Corporation sovereign funds to mitigate their economic woes.
Not so when it comes to Ireland. State media coverage of Ireland has always been characterised by the highlighting of particular qualities or attributes which the Chinese Government views as the basis for the close relationship between Ireland and China, the importance of which is highlighted by the growing number of senior Chinese leaders/officials visiting our shores on a regular basis.
Behind the subtly of carefully crafted official speeches and commentaries regarding Ireland there has clearly been a sense of purpose in China’s strategic approach. For example, when senior Chinese officials say “China attaches great importance to its relationship with Ireland” what they mean is ‘English speaking’, ‘between Europe/USA’, ‘same time zone as UK’, ‘potentially resource rich (food, energy)’, ‘friendly’. In other words Ireland is clearly of strategic value to China.
In a new world order potentially led by China our Mediterranean friends don’t offer such strategic attributes.
Following the signing of joint government sponsored NTMA / CIC MOU back in early 2012, an initiative involving CIC was always going to bear fruition. The questions to be answered were when/where?
Given that CIC only makes strategic investments which in China’s vested interests, the statement that Irish and Chinese companies in “core technology sectors such as internet, software, semiconductors, and clean technology will be targeted by the fund’s managers, as well as a number of other technology areas where the Fund’s strategy is uniquely positioned. These include agriculture, food, medical, and financial services” clearly offers the chance of a “win-win” solution for all.
Now that there is investment money on the table: China is now set to become a major market for Irish companies in terms of joint collaboration and market access; while Ireland’s technological prowess and investment climate, backed by CIC’s vote of confidence, place us at the top table in terms of attracting Chinese outbound investment into Europe.
Coming hot on the heels of the announcement of the established of a new Irish-domiciled exchange-traded fund (ETF) offering European investors direct access to China’s blue-chip stocks for the first time, the approaching Year of the Horse looks set to be a thrilling year in Ireland China relations.
Managing Director, Accurate Group Ireland China Market Makers (Route to Market, Export, Import, Partner Due Diligence)
Speech by Niall O’Reilly
Founder Ningbo Business Club
2nd B2B Networking Reception
33rd Floor, Mingzhou Suite, Shangri La Hotel, Ningbo.
7th November, 2013
Good evening Ningbo Business Club members and distinguished guests.
I am delighted to see so many of you here tonight attending the second Business To Business networking reception of the Ningbo Business Club, which is brought to you in this magnificent Shangri La Hotel setting by Ningbo Focus – our media partner – Point Corporate Services, and Reindeer Station.
By way of introduction, in August 1988 courtesy of a Chinese Government Scholarship I came to Beijing to study the Chinese language and foreign trade. I assured all my family and friends “just one-year and I will be return back to Ireland. Well, that was 25 years ago and, as you can see, I am still here!
Once the dynamism and buzz of day by day living and working China breeds permeates your skin… well, it stays there, and with respect to Ningbo, for very obvious reasons:
We are in a city which in 2012 registered GDP of RMB 652.47 billion, at an annual growth rate of 7.8%
where the GDP per capita, by resident population count, is over US$13,500 and heading towards the US$20,000 mark by the end of 2016
A city that in 2012 recorded an import / export trade value of US$96.6 billion.
Ningbo is now firmly on the map as a leading business city in China in its own right and nowhere is dynamic change more evident than in Ningbo’s infrastructure construction boom:
The CRH high-speed train I took this afternoon from Hangzhou East Station to Ningbo East Station involved a journey of only one hour. Two years ago I recall a rail journey of over two hours. The completely new 150 kilometres high-speed railway line between the two cities took less than two years to construct.
The 35.7 kilometres long Hangzhou Bay Bridge, which took only four years to build, now makes driving to Shanghai is now a breeze
Looking out the window of this 33rd floor presidental suite at the spectacular views it is clear Ningbo’s infrastructure investment explosion over the past 5 years is simply beyond staggering.
Yet, given that we are living and doing business in the city that hosts the World’s second (soon to be) largest trading port… Where else would you want to be?
Perhaps you have heard, or not heard, about the story of the six blind monks who are asked to determine what an elephant looks like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body.
The first blind monk touches a leg and says the elephant is a pillar.
The second blind monk touches the tail and says the elephant is a rope.
The third monk touches the trunk and believes it is a tree branch.
… and so on until the
The sixth blind monk who feels the tusk and says the elephant is a spear.
Each blind monk could feel a part of the elephant, and are certain they had the whole of the elephant.
However, in reality they only had a part of it. None could grasp the reality of the big picture: Many of us look at China in the same way.
The media, both here in China and outside, can distort our awareness and perceptions about China by sensationalising the good and the bad, while from time to time its seems that everyone has a different opinion about what is going on..
So how do we make sense of all the information we are being exposed to?
Each time we return home to our countries, or when we read newspapers from back home, it seems that the path to business success here in China can be neatly packaged into three themes:
Understand the culture
However as we all know these clichés can inevitably turn out to be the most difficult, misunderstood and costliest approaches to success and profitability in China.
For example, the fact Chinese businesspeople from Hong Kong (speaking Cantonese), Taiwan (Mandarin/Hakka), Singapore (Mandarin/Fukienese) and Malaysia (Fukienese) struggle for success in China indicate more than language skills are needed.
Being based on the ground here in Ningbo you will know that the word guanxi is a widely misunderstand concept, not to be confused with back door games and buying favours. It takes a very long time to build true guanxi, which, as we know, can be stronger than any contract.
We also know that when it comes to learning the culture, what’s really important is getting a handle on the specific nuances, for example at business meetings when sometimes what is not being said can indicate the true meaning, while our Chinese counterparts can hear the same words but interpret things completely differently.
Yù zhī qiánfāng shì, qiě wèn guòláirén
“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”
And in my opinion there is really no better way to make the right connections and access the right information here in China than through Networking Networking Networking.
The Ningbo Business Club
With such conviction, and seeing the considerable potential in China for the social networking website for business professionals that is LinkedIn, 5 years ago I set up a series of China city business networks including Ningbo Business Club (NBC), which now has close to 450 members.
Our Ningbo Business Club (宁波市商业协会) is devoted to bringing professionals and entrepreneurs here in Ningbo and surrounding areas quality (as opposed to quantity) connections, information and knowledge about how to use and leverage business networking to meet their professional objectives.
The fact that our origins are online enables us to not only reach out to members doing business on the ground here in Ningbo.
Ningbo Business Club (宁波市商业协会) also provides an excellent business resource platform for business people around the world to find out about all that is relevant to doing business here in Ningbo and Zhejiang, and ultimately to secure business deals along the way – which is why we are all here tonight!
In addition, akin to us foreign businesspeoplehere, many ‘Ningbo-born, bred, and raised businessmen and businesswomen’, or Ningbo’s Diaspora, are dispersed far and wide, living and working all over the globe. Ningbo Business Club provides an excellent platform for them to connect with their laojia 老家and keep abreast of what’s going on in Ningbo’s business scene.
I am the Managing Director of Accurate Group, a China market-making consultancy, operated out of Hangzhou and Ireland. Our clients outside china constantly ask us searching questions about all aspects of city and provincial market information the real-time answers to which lie within a network connection. I can also tell you that over half of Accurate Group’s client base came via connections made on Linkedin.com
Of course being on the ground here in Ningbo we all want an opportunity to meet our fellow members socially to learn “what was” and “what is” happening in Ningbo’s business scene.
Hence, this our second B2B event tonight, where moving forward, and given calibre of our two guest speakers tonight – Candy Tang, from Deloitte Shanghai (who will talk about China’s VAT Reform Pilot) and Tormod Ludvik Nilsen, from Wikborg Rein Shanghai (who will talk about the new duty-free zone in Shanghai), we anticipate that Ningbo Business Club will continue to prosper as the leading source of business interaction for businesspeople with an interest in Ningbo.
Now I would like to hand you over to our Chairman Helge Hareland, Chairman & Business Development Director at Point Services (Ningbo) Co Ltd. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Recently he has been very much at the forefront of EU-China dialogue:
Prior to his visit to Ireland Vice Premier Ma is leading the Chinese delegation at the fourth High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue taking place today in Brussels to discuss trade and investment frictions.
Last week he also co-hosted with Chancellor George Osborne the recent 5th UK-ChinaEconomic and Financial Dialogue at which London’s role as a global offshore hub for RMB trading and consequently a hub for RMB investment into China were strengthened.
On his visit to Ireland Vice Premier Ma will possibly be accompanied by Trade Minister Gao Hucheng and it will be interesting to see whether the potential for cooperation with our own financial sector, as in IFSC, is raised in deliberations with their Irish counterparts. Or perhaps in the face of moves towards EU tax harmonisation and recent coups regarding London’s role as a global offshore hub for RMB trading the Chinese no longer view the IFSC offering as being attractive, if they ever did.
“And so to the prosperous east of China, to the cities of Suzhou and Hangzhou, where the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) organised a trade mission that included a meeting with mainland China’s richest man: Zong Qinghou.
There is a Chinese proverb: “In heaven there is paradise, on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou.”
As well as being pleasant cities, they are important business locations, and they fit right in with the current thinking on how to exploit the China market best. That involves focusing on second-tier cities that have large populations.
Hangzhou has 9.5 million inhabitants, while Suzhou has 12 million, which is why the IEA’s Asia Trade Forum chose them for its business visit.
“This is all about taking a phased approach to Asia, and getting to know Asia better,” said Hugh Kelly, the chairman of the IEA’s Asia Trade Forum.
“We wanted to get people out here and get them over the hump of making the trip. We wanted to try to get people to experience China and better inform them if it’s the market for them.”
The IEA’s director for China, Niall O’Reilly, is a long-time Hangzhou resident and he orchestrated the coup of arranging a meeting with Mr Zong.
He is estimated to have a personal wealth of 82 billion yuan (€10.23 billion) and is the chairman of the privately held Wahaha group, China’s top homegrown beverage firm, producing bottled water, tea and other drinks, which had pre-tax profits of €1.23 billion last year.
A chain-smoking member of China’s annual parliament, the National People’s Congress, Mr Zong is famously frugal, spending just $20 (€15) a day on himself. He is the third-richest man in Asia and 23rd richest in the world.
His knowledge of Ireland was extremely limited, something the delegates were keen to remedy, but he seemed receptive to the possibilities offered by Ireland – the visit was supposed to be 20 minutes’ long but went on for one and a half hours.
Wahaha has about 60 factories in 29 provinces, and it also makes baby formula and children’s clothes.
The Wahaha group has considerable geographical spread in China and Mr Zong said that he can get a new product into two million shops inside of a week.
“Mr Zong was very interested in what Ireland had to offer,” said Mr Kelly.
During the visit, Mr Zong invited the IEA to attend a Wahaha event in three weeks’ time, which will be an opportunity to pitch products to the 20 shopping malls owned by Wahaha.
Among the companies taking part on the delegation was Áine Handmade Chocolates. Owner and chocolatier Anne Rudden was impressed by the scale of operations at Wahaha.
“I was here on this trip to see if there were opportunities, so I got more than I thought out of it. Meeting with Mr Zong was the best. And choosing Hangzhou seems to have been a good idea,” said Ms Rudden.
Mr Zong also tried Darling Cocktails’ ready-to-serve cocktail.
Mr Kelly said that while companies were happy to go to the US six times a year, companies found the trip to Asia more daunting and had less of a presence as a result.“Everyone is going home with a great impression. There are a lot of layers here and we’ve achieved more than we expected on this trip. You have to come here to see the scale on which they plan,” said Mr Kelly, the chief executive of Associated Marketing.
Unlike other Government trade missions, the IEA trade delegation had the benefit of not having to meet political obligations.
Mr Kelly said the choice of Hangzhou and Suzhou as the main venues for the trip was part of a plan to match Irish companies with their counterparts in smaller cities.
“Many Irish companies are small and medium-sized companies and are very small in China. If you pair off with someone too big you will fade,” said Mr Kelly.
The delegation also visited the Hangzhou Economic Development Authority and was received by the local government.
Sights:The scorching heat, the pickets, the helicopter, the blank stares of bus loads of apprehensive People’s Liberation Army soldiers surrounded by Beijing’s irate mothers and fathers, the water tankers, the chuandan (pamphlets), the handwritten messages on the school noticeboard, real tears, fleeing, panic, emptiness, dry tears, bloated bodies. How many more?
Tastes: Dry, salty and bitter.
Time:Central Beijing –3.45pm Saturday June 3, 1989, the first time I heard the traumatising sounds of teargas canisters exploding all around me, gunfire. A wave of spine-chilling panic and astonishment shuddered through the maddened crowd.
“Look at what the People’s Liberation Army are using against the people”, said my local friend.
I was standing near Zhongnanhai, the Communist Party of China and central government’s seat of power. Nine hours later from the safety of my dormitory my eyes were fixed on the horizon where a menacing, murky pall of orange hung over downtown Beijing. June 4, 1989, one month, two weeks, six days since the popular student-led ‘nothing to my name’ [Read more at: http://wp.me/p15Yzr-19] demonstrations began in Tiananmen Square. All was eerily quiet in the immediate vicinity, but we knew, the rumour machine knew, and it wasn’t long before the first of the bloated purples would be carried back to the campus. No wailing, just lifeless silence.
The most dramatic and formative event of my life, all permanently etched in my mind as if it was yesterday.
“You missed Woodstock” said my brother upon my return home.
In August 1969, forty-nine years ago this Summer, during the height of the Vietnam War, and a year after the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a 450,000-strong hippie commune established itself at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair to hear rock legends the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Gimmie Shelter” and a feast of other rock bands belt out some of the most powerful rock music ever written. Braving rain, mud, heat, cold, poor sanitation, and food shortages it was just another typical rock concert they were all going to. None of them had come in search of a huge historical turning point, they just wanted to listen to what is still the most powerful rock music ever made. As it rained and rained the calmness and undisturbed feeling of the gathering grabbed the attention of the world’s media who gazed in grudging admiration at the 450,000 [the same as the number of American soldiers at the time fighting the Vietnam War] number spectacle.
People turned to each other and said “Can you believe this?”
It wasn’t a rebellion, rather the people doing as they pleased for the happiness of it, enjoying the freedom. Towards the end of the Fair when much of the crowd had already left, Jimi Hendrix, intoxicated by the mood, took to the stage: “No to the Vietnam War, No to racism...” and then came his 4 and a half minute rendition of the American National Anthem the “Star Spangled Banner“…. the culmination of a new patriotic counter culture that was questioning the direction of American society.
American journalist and educator Max Lerner summed up Woodstock as:
“a turning point in the consciousness generations have of each other and of themselves“.
People who were there spread out across America and the world to relate stories of an ideal and perfect time and place called Woodstock, where for three days everyone lived in harmony and everything was for the best in size and spirit surpassed all fantasies. They find themselves part of history.
Woodstock was proof that America was still big enough to contradict itself on a huge scale, and to stand up in the best possible spectacle against its worst excesses.
“We have kneeled down too long and are getting up to stretch our legs” (Anonymous 89er)
I recall the heady weeks leading up to June 4, 1989 as vividly as if it was yesterday: a passionate flowering of student idealism, mingling with the students, exchanging stories, philosophising about the differences between capitalism and socialism, how energetic, so full of life they were. Their thirst for information, their frustrations with the harsh restrictions of life, their optimism for the future, the music, the sense of intellectual excitement, a free-spirited atmosphere, more debates, pasting their manifestos on campus boards across Beijing, the marching, the banners, the hunger strikes, the city at a complete standstill, the enormous public compassion and understanding, being in Tiananmen Square staring at the statue of the lady in white and realising this was their rebellion not mine. The cry was for reform. An entire nation was about to blossom, but then came the cruel response, and with it the death of hope, romanticism and idealism in China.
China’s Woodstock? Yes, flattery indeed. The bands didn’t play on.
In the intervening time the Zhongnanhai Establishment still advocates the same lamentable verdict in relation to the events of June 4, 1989...
… Modern China’s enduring transformational pain. 遗忘症节快乐!
In light of the growing realisation, as highlighted in Eddie O’Connor’s (Founder of Mainstream Renewable Energy) opinion piece in the Irish Times, dated 7th October, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/1007/1224305386447.html that over the next decade China is likely to present more business, educational, and tourism opportunities for Ireland than any other country, is it not the case that we are seriously deluding ourselves into thinking China will provide such economic deliverance unless our policy makers embrace a new radical approach to engaging China?
Bearing in mind every other country in the western world is courting China’s Yuan currency, how about each government department being directed to devise a five-year plan regarding how best to position Ireland as China’s gateway to Europe? A junior minister with a special portfolio covering China would be responsible for monitoring the plan’s implementation.
In the meantime, while waiting for Chinese companies to make the investment decisions we see as so vital to our future, the Government should also consider practical initiatives aimed at making China market entry easier for our small and medium-sized businesses.
For instance, a feasible and cost effective approach for small and medium-sized businesses, involving a sharing of incubation office, administrative, legal, financial and logistical resources, would be the construction of a Government supported IDA-style ‘Irish business park’ on land leased from one of many enthusiastic municipal or provincial governments in China. Such a valuable enterprise could be carried out under the auspices of a public/private partnership, with special tax breaks offered to encourage Irish businesses to establish their offices. There is a prescient: In the mid-1990s Singapore leased land from the Suzhou Government to build what is now a key gateway to China for Singapore businesses: The Suzhou Industrial Park.
The future success of our China engagement policy lies in embracing bold initiatives that stand out from the crowd.
Accurate Ireland – China Products & Services Sourcing | Business Development Consultancy