Selling to China


Last April, six New Zealand marine companies, with support from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, exhibited at the China International Boat Show, in Shanghai.

This first ever co-ordinated exhibition at the event was so successful that double the space has already been booked for 2006.

All this year’s participants are firmly committed to returning next year and are confident of winning hundreds of thousands of dollars of new business, and feel they have gained a crucial toehold in the fast growing Chinese marine market.

New Zealand Trade & Industry says that China’s rapid economic growth, combined with the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is fuelling demand for boats and related marine products.

“The companies that exhibited at the show were impressed by the potential to do business in China, particularly given the window of opportunity New Zealand will have when a Free Trade Agreement is signed.” says Kevin McPherson, General Manager of New Zealand Marine.

NZTE also hosted a networking event at the show where New Zealand’s capability was highlighted and introductions made to key players in the Chinese industry.

Warwick Yacht Design is a veteran exporter to South East Asia, and has a long standing relationship with a leading Chinese boat building yard. Director Alan Warwick says “Networking conducted at the Shanghai event looks set to deliver an exciting new contract for the company, which will see its designs for an 80 foot and a 100 foot sail boats being built by an Australian/Chinese joint venture company. We had numerous approaches at the show from other boat building yards keen to work with us. Many simply don’t have the skill level or standards yet to produce designs at our quality level, but the interest shows that New Zealand companies definitely have a future in China.”

Warwick says the show was an excellent forum for the company to host existing and potential clients, and demonstrate New Zealand’s marine capability to an international audience.

Auckland’s Maxwell Marine is another pioneer exporter to China and took its world leading anchoring equipment, boat hatches and high performance rope for sailing boats to the Shanghai show.

Sales Manager, Ron Czerniak, expects Maxwell Marine’s sales to China to approach half a million dollars this year and says “As a direct result of contacts made at the China International Boat Show, the company has just quoted to supply thousands of dollars of equipment for a 45-metre superyacht expedition ship being built there.” He continued “The New Zealand marine industry has to see China as a key market for the future. Boat building companies from Taiwan, North American, and Europe are increasingly using China as a production base and a raft of Chinese companies are moving into the leisure and recreational boat building market. There is huge demand for hardware, accessories and design capability, all areas where New Zealand is very strong.”

Like New Zealand, a number of other countries also had their first ever national pavilion at this year’s China International Boat Show, signalling the growing attention that the international marine industry is placing on the market.

Auckland’s High Modulus, which specialises in the design of marine composite structures such as yacht hulls, says that joining the New Zealand stand at the Shanghai show was an invaluable door opener.

“Having NZTE staff in China working with us was like having our own team members on the ground. By using interpreters on the stand we conducted successful face to face meetings with potential customers and joint venture partners in China and other parts of the world.” says Murray Greenhalgh, Manager Market Development for High Modulus. “To leverage off our success we’ve already exhibited at another marine event in China and will definitely be back at the Shanghai show in 2006,”

Andrew White, NZTE’s Trade Commissioner in Shanghai, says the marine sector in China is poised for significant growth with a wealth of opportunities for New Zealand companies. However, he says, a lot more research needs to be done in areas such as understanding the dynamics of the market, identifying the right partners, and putting intellectual property strategies in place.

“Demand is growing for components and accessories, and there is also demand for technical training across different areas to improve the skills base in China. As well, there are likely to be opportunities in infrastructure related business for marina and coastal community developments, but the competition will be intense” says White.