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Aust businesses urged to become “insiders” within China

21 February, 2007

One of the important factors for export success in China is to understand how the market works ‘on-the-ground’ according to newly appointed Country Manager of the Austrade network’s 15 offices around China, Peter Osborne.

“Chinese business practice is heavily relationship based, so Australian firms need to be willing to spend time in the market with their business partners to develop strong relationships and trust, on which very good business can be achieved,” Osborne said.

“In-market representation is critical for business success, with the options dependent on the type of product and service being exported – from agency arrangements right through to establishing a wholly owned foreign enterprise.

“Having realistic expectations of the market potential combined with adequate resourcing for market development is a good basis for export success in China – halve your expectations and double your time and budget. Austrade is able to provide comprehensive advice to Australian companies in this regard, from our ongoing support for over 1,000 Australian exporters in the China market each year,” he said.

According to Osborne, success in China is not dependent on the size of your business. 

“For smaller firms, Austrade’s extensive presence in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as in 12 second tier cities in China provides access to markets that are often better matched to Australian small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) production capacity and are attractive, but less competitive than the often hyper-competitive major urban centre markets,” he said.

“Then on the other end of the scale, larger Australian businesses use the Austrade network as an extension of their own marketing teams to expand their reach, source in-market business intelligence and assist in representations to Chinese Government agencies,” he said.

Osborne pointed out there are a wide variety of export opportunities in China, with China now Australia’s second largest export market, and over 3800 Australian companies exporting products and services to China in 2005-06.

“The diversity of export opportunities is vast. Beyond the well known trade in minerals, energy and agricultural commodities there are niche opportunities ranging from organic biscuits to architectural services, fire control systems to glass artworks,” he said. 

“The Chinese economy continues to grow at a blistering rate of over 10 per cent GDP growth in 2006 and the same projected for 2007.  While China remains a complex market in which to do business, the market is becoming more open and international, particularly in the major urban centres. The size, diversity and varying levels of development across the width and breadth of China provide a range of niche and mass market opportunities for Australian companies to provide products and services to meet China’s needs.” 

Austrade’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter O’Byrne in announcing Osborne’s appointment to Beijing highlighted, Austrade’s network of 15 offices across China, with close to 100 staff as providing an invaluable range of market intelligence, in-market representation and services to assist Australian companies enter and develop business in China. 

Priority industry sectors for the Austrade network include mining and energy, industrial automation, automotive, environmental management and technologies, transport infrastructure and logistics, environmental management and technologies, industrial infrastructure, building materials, furnishings and fit-out, marine, agribusiness, food and beverage, ICT, business services, education and training, health and wellbeing, film services/multimedia, design and consumer and retail. O’Byrne said that while this seems a very broad range, Australian companies have been successful in winning business in China in all of these sectors.

Peter Osborne, Beijing-based senior trade commissioner and Austrade’s country manager for China was born in Sydney and grew up in Albury and Grafton,  After completing university studies he started work with Austrade on the day it was formed, 6 January 1986.  His extensive experience has encompassed senior roles in the North East Asia region, including postings in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

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