July 19, 2009

Time to Bridge Business Gap with Chinese Community

Posted by NZ Herald - 17 July 2009
by Lincoln Tan

The Auckland business community is failing to maximise the economic potential of the Chinese community which has become an important part of the city's retail landscape and provides a link to trade with Asia, a study found.
The Asia New Zealand report, entitled Chinese Businesses and the Transformation of Auckland, will be one of the papers discussed at the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas Conference at the University of Auckland Business School tomorrow.
"It appears that many local institutions have yet to realise the importance of Chinese business development," the study by Paul Spoonley and Carina Meares from Massey University said.
"These activities are a major source of interest internationally, as Chinese immigrant communities play an important role in business innovation, entrepreneurial activities and international trade.
"It was therefore surprising to see that these relatively new - but still very important - dimensions of Auckland's economy were not given more attention in the royal commission's report on the governance of Auckland or the Government's initial response to the report."

Researchers interviewed 39 Chinese business people - 10 local-born, 11 Asia Pacific-born and 18 China-born - to look at how different Chinese communities have responded to the challenges of setting up businesses in Auckland.
"The royal commission's report and the Government's response both acknowledge the cultural diversity of the city, but do not explore what this means for the contribution of such businesses to Auckland's productivity, innovation or future growth," the report says.
It said Chinese businesses are an important source of innovation, and contribute to the city's cultural and economic diversity and are important contributors to international trade. But because of a lack of local networks, and English language difficulties, many depend extensively on other Chinese for employees, suppliers and customers.
Many business owners make regular trips to maintain relationships with overseas contacts, especially in China.
A feature of Chinese businesses is the development of ethnic precincts in Auckland, such as Dominion Rd in Auckland City, Northcote on the North Shore and Meadowlands in Manukau City.
Only 22.2 per cent of the China-born participants said they spoke English "well", and 94.4 per cent said Mandarin was their main language, although 63 per cent of Asia-Pacific born claimed to be conversant in English.
All local-born participants, claimed they had experienced discrimination in New Zealand. But while 25 per cent of New Zealand-born thought there was "a lot of" discrimination against them, none of the China-born saw this as an issue.
"One possibility is that the locally born were more attuned to the language, including body language, that signalled distaste and hostility."
Local Chinese business owners often expressed frustration in dealing with local institutions, such as banks.
The report said New Zealand business organisations should increase its understanding of the Chinese business community, and more opportunities should be provided for Chinese business owners to establish links and networks with non-Chinese businesses.
By Lincoln Tan