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Can South Australia’s relationship with China deliver better results for business?

April 10, 2017

So how is South Australia doing with its China strategy?

South Australia has been nurturing its relationship with China through the government’s sister city program with Shandong, China’s third largest for around 30 years now. However, despite this effort and it’s ramped up approach since 2012 through the South Australia – China Investment Strategy, our State continues to lag behind most of the others.

InDaily’s David Washington wrote recently that Chinese investment in Australia grew by 60 percent in 2015 to $15 billion but that South Australia only attracted $540 million or just 3 percent of the total investment. With only 3 percent of total investment coming to South Australia though, it seems the strategy by itself just isn’t enough and it makes one wonder why.

Why are we not doing better? Well, the strategy could be a flop, the Government may not know what it’s doing or maybe it’s just that they have done they can do at the official diplomatic level and now it’s up to South Australian business to leverage the opportunities. Perhaps also South Australian business people need to determine if they have what it takes to leverage emerging opportunities, upskill and back themselves a bit more.

South Australia has hosted numerous Chinese trade delegations and funded the travels of a reasonable number of business people to meet Chinese business people all hoping to land deals but what bottom line benefits is the State seeing? There have been a few success stories, mostly in established industries like education, wine, food and fibre but it’s hard to know how much of this represents new business and new jobs. For many, it would seem, China is too much of an unknown and they're a bit wary.

Doing business with China has been made complicated by Government. They should be breaking it down, streamline the process and cut through red tape to facilitate market access. Let's stop a minute and take the advice of one of South Australia’s most successful businessmen, Albert Bensimon, and cut out the “hoo-ha”. After all, it’s not rocket science, it’s marketing through the building of mutually beneficial relationships. It’s what most business people do every day.

If you’ve got a great business idea, project, service or product, isn’t it worth having a go?

As with all business decisions though it’s important to do your homework and determine if the Chinese market is right for you. Research your market thoroughly, plan well and make sure you get good advice to reduce risk and maximise success.

At the end of the day, whilst Government is advocating doing business in China, it would be your baby and Government won’t be there to pick up the pieces if everything goes pear shaped.

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