Encouraged by captains of Irish industry, who should know better, Opposition politicians with an agenda, and armchair critics within the tabloid and online media, a degree of pessimism appears to be growing among Ireland‘s small to medium (SME) sized business sector regarding the ‘risk versus reward’ futility of getting involved in China business. More mature markets in EU and the USA are being represented as offering more scope to grow for Irish SMEs with the right value proposition.
Irish businesses no matter what their size cannot afford to be pessimistic about China and here is why.
“…China’s transformation is one of the defining facts of our lifetime. Last year China became the world’s largest trading nation. Next year China is set to become the world’s largest importer of goods and later this century it will become the world’s biggest economy.
We should be clear that there is a genuine choice for every country over how to respond to this growing openness and success. They can choose to see China’s rise as a threat or an opportunity. They can protect their markets from China or open their markets to China. They can try and shut China out – or welcome China as a partner at the top table of global affairs..”
The British Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron, on the eve of his second official visit, in an article published this week in Caixin (pronounced ‘sigh sheen‘), China’s financial news heavyweight, couldn’t have been more explicit about China’s growing importance.
Most China watchers will agree that – largest, longest, fastest, biggest, greatest, tallest superlatives aside- China is still in the very early stages of its re-emergence: Get in on the ground floor now and potentially be in the happy position of earning revenue hand over fist.
Sure China is no cake walk. At the beginning, building a China market presence from scratch involves hassles, stumbles, issues, errors, problems, stresses and utter confusion. Yet, isn’t that what getting in at the beginning of any start-up business or market looks like? The only way to WIN is through hard work, support, communication, committment, patience, and understanding that there will be many instances of having to deal with a lot of confusion. Similar to a start-up company, these are the learning steps that must be taken to break new ground and grow a viable market presence in China.
In a start-up there also comes a point when the challenges start to be overcome and things begin to gel together. And so to in insatiable China where the surmounting of challenges and barriers or difficulties will open the way to doing fantastic things and improving on a daily basis faster than would have happened in more traditional, mature, markets.
With certain senior business executives and media in Ireland advocating a niche market approach for SMEs with respect to China [“China is a … slow burn” (Mr. Sean O’Driscoll, CEO Glen Dimplex); “More fortunes have been lost than made by getting in too early,” (Liam O’Mahony, Chairman, IDA Ireland) “Putting Mandarin on the school curriculum is a typical proposal from armchair ‘experts’ who have no experience of the challenges of selling in China – – 1.3bn consumers and all we need is a very tiny slice of the pie!” (Michael Hennigan, Editor of Finfacts.ie)] the crux of this Accurate China Insight is to draw attention to the fact that almost all of Accurate Group’s Irish clients, no matter what size, doing business in China or with China succeed at it, while the vast majority of European and American companies in China are flourishing.
Moreover, we do not share the view that China is a particularly risky market for foreign companies. Like any foreign market with a unique language, business culture, and legal system something can go wrong. However, despite the challenges China remains, will continue to remain a very profitable place to do business, which is really what matters most for Irish businesses.
Returning to David Cameron:
China is at a defining moment. It has just announced bold reforms that show real ambition to free its markets and open them up to foreign participation…
As Chinese cities expand dramatically and Chinese people become more prosperous, Britain has the world-class goods and services they need…
Building on the recent launch of EU-China negotiations on investment, and on China’s continued commitment to economic reform, I now want to set a new long-term goal of an ambitious and comprehensive EU-China Free Trade Agreement. And as I have on the EU-US deal, so I will put my full political weight behind such a deal that could be worth tens of billions of dollars every year…
We should recognise that China’s economic transformation is happening at 100 times the scale and 10 times the speed of Britain’s own urbanisation two centuries ago. In the last 30 years, China has made unprecedented social and economic achievements. The recent meeting of China’s leaders – the Third Plenum – has now set a clear goal: comprehensive reform, including issues such as governance and the judicial protection of human rights, and recognising that all types of reform are inextricably linked. The promise is of an economy with a more predictable legal environment and with stricter enforcement of protection for intellectual property rights…
The fact is that businesses thrive in a stable, secure and corruption-free environment that limits the risk of shock, provides certainty of dispute resolution and offers protection of capital and intellectual assets. These conditions are good for growth in China…
And therein lies the rub for all Irish businesses. For our closest neighbour China is now at the core of its international trade relations. With the Chinese Yuan surpassing the Euro to become the second-most used currency in global trade (Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-03/yuan-passes-euro-to-be-second-most-used-trade-finance-currency.html, China, the number one retail growth opportunity in the world (Source: http://yum.com/annualreport/), is where it is happening NOW. Moreover, the best has yet to come!
Ireland’s SME’s should be able to determine a new China business model that suits their situation. Top management and business owners who are destructively determined to succeed by increasing efforts to ‘do more of the same better’ in their traditional markets and ignore the potential of China are going to lose out in the medium and long term.
Irish businesses across the board need to intensify efforts to tap the China market otherwise they will be left behind.
Source: Accurate China Insight http://accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=SreDdexWHkE=
Managing Director, Accurate Group Ireland China Market Makers (Route to Market, Export, Import, Partner Due Diligence)
China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253
Ireland Office: Accurate Ireland, Dublin – O: +353-1271-1830