Unlock Global Opportunities: Importers and Exporters Evening

Business After Five

Thursday, 11th April at BNH offices

One of Business North Harbour’s (BNH’s) priorities is to engage meaningfully with as many members as possible to help them succeed. This was the first event focused specifically on current and potential exporters and importers. Welcoming guests, general manager Kevin O’Leary said that preparing for the session had been a really enlightening “voyage of discovery”, learning how much support existed and where.

On this occasion, there were four guest speakers:

  • Sanjay Prakash, Foreign Policy Officer, MFAT
  • Michelle Taylor, Senior Engagement Advisor, MPI
  • Marcelo Menoita, New Zealand Brazil Business Chamber (NZBBC)
  • Ruth Boyes, Area Manager – Auckland, EMA /Export NZ

Sanjay Prakash

MFAT works globally to help make New Zealanders safer and more prosperous. It is responsible for FTAs (free trade agreements) and currently has about 73 per cent of its target in place. If MFAT opens the doors, then NZTE walks through them; the two organisations work closely and share office space in Auckland.

There are ambitious plans to grow Aotearoa’s exports, and MFAT can help existing and new exporters in several vital areas.

The Tariff Finder helps exporters search for FTAs for their product and desired country, plus the required documentation and certification, etc. It does the same for importers who bring in raw materials.

NZTE’s market intelligence reports are a free resource but potentially invaluable as they’re written by people in overseas jurisdictions.

If an exporter suddenly comes across a new problem or regulation, they can log this with the Trade Barriers team, who will check if this is consistent with the FTA.

If there’s a risk that the exported product could infringe on a person’s rights (e.g., drone technology), the Exports Control team can offer advice about how to proceed.

Answering questions from guests, Sanjay observed that market selection is tricky. Exporters need to balance costs carefully and not spread themselves too thin. Depending on their targets, focusing on provinces /states may be more appropriate than a country overall.

Michelle Taylor

Michelle is part of the Exporter Regulatory Advice Service (ERAS) team, helping exporters of food and fibre navigate domestic and international regulations. She advised that MPI and NZ Customs were the two “essential” agencies for exporters and echoed Sanjay’s message of the government’s ambitious export growth plans – to double the current value.

Queries to ERAS have increased significantly, most frequently relating to honey and dairy, innovative or indigenous foods, or those making medical claims.

MPI’s Ducks in a Row is a self-guided model that gives potential exporters all the basic information they need to get started. Additionally, Michelle stressed the importance of finding a good local distributor. As people on the ground in a territory, they are often the first to know if, for example, a regulation changes.

MPI also provides OMARs (Overseas Market Access Requirements) for registered exporters. These are password-protected and only available to NZ citizens.

Marcelo Menoita

The NZBBC is very new, having officially opened on 8 December 2023, but there are already exciting plans afoot to massively increase the export potential between the two countries, currently worth less than $500 million. Marcelo described this as a “universal opportunity” for Kiwi businesses to break into:

  • The world’s fifth-largest country by territory
  • The world’s ninth-largest GDP
  • A population of 203 million

NZBBC’s first project is to open up a direct flight from Auckland to Sao Paulo. “Just 13 hours to the financial capital of South America.” This direct flight would also connect Asia /Oceania to South America, with Auckland becoming an international hub.

The second priority is to create a cooperation agreement for the film industry.

Things are moving fast; it’s hoped that the FTA will be signed in October.

Ruth Boyes

ExportNZ describes itself as “the voice of New Zealand exporters”. It’s a division of BusinessNZ and part of the EMA’s (Employers and Manufacturers Association’s) comprehensive network of business support organisations.

Ruth explained how would-be exporters can tap into extensive expertise, including business mentors, HR, and health and safety, and workshops covering key areas, such as the risks facing exporters (with insights from the Serious Fraud Office).

For exporters wishing to target the US, Ruth said that Mike Hearn, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce, is an excellent person to follow online. They may also wish to investigate SelectUSA trade fair events, where every state is represented.

(Please note: Mr Hearn couldn’t attend on this occasion. However, it is hoped he’ll be available for a future BNH event.)

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Ben Yang

Ben Yang