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Bridging a trade divide

Many times in my career, the courage and acumen of New Zealand exporters has inspired me.

This happened most recently when I interviewed Bob Richards of Wine Technology International Ltd for a case study for the New Zealand Export Credit Office (NZECO).

Bob related how he appeared to be in a bind.

“It was a stressful situation,” he said. “I had to assess from all angles the risk associated with the deal. Without the deep level of trust I had in my partner, and the knowledge I had of the industry, I wouldn’t have proceeded.”

Ultimately a high level of confidence was required.

Similarly, when I interviewed another exporter, Neil Cullen of Wimpex Ltd about a deal he was working on, he said at the end a leap of faith was needed.

After 18 months of exponential growth, his company had landed a large export order but it needed a big investment in machinery and stock to realise it. How could Wimpex secure the order and maintain its cashflow? You can read how it achieved it here.

I have also written a case study on NZECO’s assistance for New Zealand Apple Ltd.

The brief has been to communicate in compelling, plain English what are complicated trade financial arrangements.

I hope the confidence, calculated risk-taking and hard work you will read of in these case studies will be an inspiration for you too in your ventures.



Proposing city initiatives

Last month, the Porirua City Council published the third economic development discussion document I had largely drafted for them. The three documents are strategies for global business, and the digital and services industries.

I was delighted to work with the council on this project, as I have lived in the wider city for 25 years in the seaside ‘villages’ of Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, Whitby and now Titahi Bay – 20 minutes north of Wellington City.

I first met the council’s economic development manager, Chris Lipscombe, on my trip to Shanghai in 2010 with the Wellington mayoral delegation. It was great to sit around the table with him again, and his colleague Sakirin Sapeas, sip some Chinese tea and share their thinking and enthusiasm.

Each of the discussion documents needed to summarise international, New Zealand and Wellington regional trends in plain English for the city’s residents. They also had to be structured in an inviting way and propose half a dozen recommendations for the council to act on for the city.

The council didn’t have a lot of money to plough into these recommendations, although it is uniquely positioned to act as a catalyst for them. The work drew on my 20 years of experience in economic development and trade.

As well as assisting my local city, the project was an opportunity to discover some fascinating trends in the digital and services industries, and also in trade.

Did you know for example that ultra fast broadband applications could reduce missed school days in New Zealand by 25 million?

That the services industry accounted for 71 percent of New Zealand GDP in 2011?

And that there are 20 exporters in Porirua City with a turnover of over $10 million?

After a consultation phase, the documents will set out planned activities from next year and long-term goals.




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