InterChamber VIP delegation Pearl River 13-14 June 2013

At the instigation of The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau invited members to attend an InterChamber organized VIP tour of the Zengcheng Economic Development Zone and to a VIP opening and special preview before the trade and public had access to the Guangzhou International Food Fair on 13 and 14 June.

Despite a well represented contingent from both the Kowloon and Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce, and both the New Zealand and Sweden Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong, surprisingly Loretta and I were not only the only members or representatives of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Macau but the only delegates from Australia wherever we went – including no representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce – South China(AustCham – SC), formerly known as the Australian Business Association in Guangzhou(ABA) and China Australia Chamber of Commerce – South China(CACC) in Guangzhou or anyone else.

Picked up from Guangzhou Station by staff from CCPIT Guangzhou, the delegation travelled to the Zengcheng Economic Trade Development Zone, picking up government officials (and a police escort) along the way, who not only touted the existing business dynamics of Guandong Province but also the extensive planning , environmental and socio- economic policies which included a reach for foreign investment, supply, procurement and partnership.

This included a visit to the spectacular man made Gualu Lake in Zengcheng and a VIP Lunch hosted by the Zengcheng City Government and attended by many provincial delegates.

The afternoon consisted of an economic and trade introduction of Zengcheng City and promotion of its food specialty market,a visit to Guangzhou Huangpu Food Industry Park and a VIP welcome dinner of China Guangzhou International Food Ingredient Fair and a subsequent networking event.

Friday saw the VIP opening ceremony of China Guangzhou International Food Ingredient Fair, VIP tour around the Fair, attending the Guangzhou Food Industry Forum, a cocktail and exchange between Hong Kong delegation and food associations, chain stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels in Guangzhou and Guangdong, and a food import B2B matching opportunity.

Organised by the Guangzhou Sub- Council of CCPIT (China Council for the Promotion of International Trade) and GIFF (Guangzhou International Food Fair organizing committee ) The GIFF was to be held at Guangzhou Pazhou Poly World Centre¬ from 14 to 17 June 2013. The GIFIF was being held in association with the “Guangzhou International Ice Cream & Dairy Product Exhibition”, “Guangzhou International Coffee, Tea & Cocoa Exhibition” and “Guangzhou International Wine Exhibition”. In addition, the 70-year-old Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo (HKBPE), Hong Kong Coffee Festival, and Korean Pickle Festival made their debut at the exhibition. Quiet diverse, from the quaint to the local and other regional Chinese , Chinese and global conglomerates

The exhibition was set up in geographical clusters within government trade procurement pavilions, well designed for deal making between traders, dealers, agents as well as supermarkets, chain stores, hotels, restaurants and other professional buyers from specialized markets of food, ingredients, coffee, tea, grain and oil in Southern China and the world and whilst only the second such event 300,000 people were expected.

There was much support from many of the world’s official international trade institutions and chambers of commerce. Official trade organizations from over 20 countries and regions including had high visibility and although AustCham South China in Guangzhou was heavily promoted as a supporter there was no evidence of this anywhere that we went.

We were late registrants to the delegation and with our hosts and their organisers ever mindful of a) missing an opportunity and b) missing an official Australian representative wherever we went we were hastily invited to the head table , repeatedly upseated from our allocated seats with much apology and fanfare and paid extra attention to and more fuss than normal made over the effusive introductions and toasts that are normally experienced at these affairs.

This caused much amusement to our fellow travelling companions from New Zealand, Sweden, Kowloon and Hong Kong in the InterChamber VIP delegation and despite the usual well natured ribbing about the rugby union and the other normal trans tasman mutual tormenting and good natured one upmanship it was often suggested that it was only because of Loretta’s perennial charm that we received this special attention amongst a plethora of champions of commerce and trade that travelled with us.

In reality it was really because of two things. Firstly, an abundantly clear desire and enthusiasm to engage with Australian business in this region, and secondly because of their gained knowledge that I was both a corporate member of AustCham Hong Kong, and that I sat on one of its Committees.

If ever there was an appreciation of, and at what level of esteem that AustCham is held within the region, and secondly what AustCham can do for any of its members it was demonstrably evident repeatedly that the Chamber’s mission “ to promote and represent Australian business and values, while enabling members to connect, engage, and grow bilateral relationships” is well and truly working in South China.

Our delegation included

• David Whitwam , Chairman of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Executive Director of Mace Consulting Ltd
• Conrad Lee Chairman of Kowloon Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director of Wah Sing Sports Trade Co Ltd
• Andrew Yuen. Member of the General Committee of The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and executive director of a Hong Kong seafood importer and exporter
• Per Agren , Director of Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Regional director of APC Asia Pacific Cargo (HK) Ltd
• Leslie Wong, Chairman of the Hong Kong Food Council

Many new friends and relationships were made both within South China, Hong Kong, Kowloon and beyond and also surprisingly many old relationships rekindled as government, founders and executives of food , beverage, transport, logistics and commerce were in our delegation or with us at the VIP events.

On a final note, both my website, and my professional linked in page received many hits from South China both during , and for many days after my visit. Analytics often support this when on a transaction, a business sojourn or after a networking event in a particular city, however the due diligence and back grounding from this trip to the Pearl River Delta was phenomenal. This has been followed by an unusual number of follow up emails seeking connections, engagement and other facilitations.

I am happy to share information with and to facilitate introductions for any Aust Cham member.

Sean Rothsey

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