The New Zealand China Trade Association has appointed Martin Thomson, partner at DLA Phillips Fox as chairman.
Thomson says that the association plays an important role in New Zealand China relations.
“The organisation’s focus has really broadened. It supports trade, but it’s also about the broader relationship between China and New Zealand, which has become very important to the New Zealand economy,” he said.
“With two quite different cultures and business practices, there’s quite a bit of learning on both sides to make that relationship more effective.”
A key focus for the organisation is improving the understanding of exporting systems and ensuring that New Zealand is up to date with changing Chinese regulation.
“They are changing their regulatory environment and there have been instances of some difficulties with getting product into China through the border control,” he said.
As a member of DLA Phillips Fox’s China practice, Thomson believes that language skills are essential to firms working with Asia. He said that firms need to get better equipped to meet the needs of Chinese clients.
“It can be quite challenging dealing with a Chinese organisation that may have limited English and quite different cultural practices and approaches,” he said. “The New Zealand economy is changing where there is much more involvement of Chinese companies and individuals. It’s really an important skill set that pretty much all service providers in New Zealand need to have.”