China Business Summit: 2019

Sustaining the Momentum

The China Business Summit was jointly presented by NZ INC. and Auckland Business Chamber. The Summit was held on Monday May 6, 2019 at The CORDIS Hotel, Auckland.

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern – who had recently made her first official visit to China – gave the opening keynote address at the Summit.

The 2019 Summit included

  • The “View from the Top” from leading New Zealand chief executives on how they were addressing new realities for their companies in the China environment.
  • Hon David Parker with a “report back” from his first trade mission to China and addressed the role the Government was playing to ensure a stronger platform for bilateral business through the free trade deal upgrade.
  • Changes in the Chinese and New Zealand political landscapes: How they affected business, trade and investment with China.
  • Critical issues like the Huawei decision: Huawei presented on how the GCSB decision has affected them as we looked at how New Zealand should best navigate its way through choppy waters.
  • Cross border investment and trade: We saw case studies from Chinese and NZ pathfinders.
  • The tourism industry on how it was deploying cutting edge technology to attract more Chinese travellers.
  • New Zealand and Chinese innovators shared their stories.

Event photos




  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s first official visit to China saw her meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Prime Minister’s discussions in Beijing were widely read as ‘establishing a tone’ for bilateral relations between New Zealand and China at time of growing international complexity and great power rivalry.

The one-day visit – which took place soon after the mosque attacks in Christchurch – was a clear signal of the Coalition Government’s commitment to a strong relationship with New Zealand’s major trading partner and presented new opportunities for collaboration.

Q&A: Fran O’Sullivan



  • Hon David Parker, Minister of Trade and Export Growth.

Minister David Parker ‘reported back’ to business from his mission to China where he was leading a delegation to Guangzhou and Beijing. There were key issues on Mr Parker’s agenda: He shared his thinking on the negotiations on the upgrade of the 2008 Free Trade Agreement between China and New Zealand which were stepped up after the Prime Minister’s visit; the proposed introduction of a national interest test for foreign investment and New Zealand’s developing response to China’s signature Belt and Road Initiative following his attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum.



  • Ambassador Wu Xi, Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand

Ambassador Wu Xi, an influential player in the bilateral relationship, shared insights from the Prime Minister’s recent official visit to Beijing and charted opportunities for future collaboration between China and New Zealand.


VIEW FROM THE TOP: New Zealand Business Leaders talk China.

China’s rapid growth and dynamic business environment is not for the faint-hearted. Yet it presents compelling opportunities for businesses. We heard from some of New Zealand’s top business leaders on some of the biggest questions of the time: How do business leaders view the Chinese commercial landscape? What strategies are they using to gain and grow their companies’ own footholds in a rapidly changing and exceeding competitive market? How is the move to greater environmental sustainability influencing their decisions in the China market? Has the trade war between the US and China had an impact on their own businesses? What are the big new ideas that New Zealand business can advance to foster and support China-related business?

  • Christopher Luxon: Chief Executive, Air New Zealand and Chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council
  • Don Braid: Managing Director, Mainfreight
  • Bruce Cameron:Chair, Zespri

Session Chair: Fran O’Sullivan



  • Andrew Bowater, deputy chief executive of Huawei New Zealand

Huawei was not far from the headlines since the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) notified Spark that using the telco supplier in its upgrade to 5G presented a security risk.

Bowater discussed Huawei’s commercial footprint in New Zealand, its 3G and 4G partnerships with Spark and 2Degrees and discussed how Huawei endeavoured to mitigate the risk that had been identified by the GCSB.


PANEL: Navigating Choppy waters.

Geo-strategic rivalry resulted in a trade war between China and the United States. Global supply chains were being disrupted and the effectiveness of multilateral trade institutions were under question. National security concerns were also on the agenda and impacting on business choices. We asked a panel of experts: How does New Zealand best navigate these choppy waters?

  • Charles Finny: Partner, Saunders Unsworth and former trade negotiator
  • Professor James Laurenceson: Acting Director Australia China Relations Institute
  • Andrew Grant: Senior Partner Auckland, McKinsey & Company

Panel Moderator: Fran O’Sullivan


Finding the key to thriving investment.

New Zealand’s largest company Fonterra was undertaking a strategic review of its investment profile in China amidst major transformative changes in the dairy market driven by e-commerce and consumer choice. This session will provide insights into how NZ companies – like Fonterra – addressed investment decisions in China; looked at how Chinese co-investment in a major New Zealand meat exporting company – Silver Fern Farms – could pave the way for future mutually beneficial investment into New Zealand and looked at the potential impact of a proposed national interest test for foreign investment on future investment flows.

  • Judith Swales, Chief Operating Officer Global Consumer & Foodservice, Fonterra
  • Cathy Quinn, Senior partner and head of China Practice team, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
  • Rob Hewett,Chair, Silver Fern Farms

Session Chair: Paul Goodwin, Managing Director Institutional NZ-ANZ



  • Mark Tanner, Managing Director, China Skinny



  • Duncan Innes-KerRegional Director, Asia and Australia, The Economist intelligence Unit (EIU).

Duncan Innes-Ker presented the EIU’s unique insights into the Chinese economy; new trends affecting business and identified high growth areas in China. This was complemented by an overview of the political outlook in China; a focus on China and the relationship to New Zealand and impact of protectionism and the US/China trade war.

Session chair: Summit Co-chair Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber


Keeping New Zealand on the map.

New Zealand companies had begun leveraging China’s rapidly developing digital and technological capabilities and massive e-commerce platforms to expand trade in critical areas like tourism. Developments in the NZ film industry were also enhancing the New Zealand brand. Ateed – which pioneered the highly successful Tripartite Summit between Auckland, Guangzhou and Los Angeles – used this to develop strategies to foster innovation in our major “international city.”

The panel told us how keeping New Zealand ‘top of mindshare’ remained key.

  • Justin Watson, Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer, Christchurch International Airport
  • Pam Ford, General Manager Economic Development, Auckland Tourism and Economic Development Agency (Ateed).
  • Sharon Zollner, Chief Economist, ANZ New Zealand
  • Annabelle Sheehan, Chief Executive, New Zealand Film Commission
  • Pania Tyson-Nathan, Chief Executive, NZ Māori Tourism

Session Chair: Malcolm Johns, Chief Executive, Christchurch International Airport

3.30PM – (STREAM B)

Winners and War stories: Lessons from New Zealand SMEs that have successfully built business with China.

New Zealand firms gave us a taste of what it is like to “jump into the river” and forge successful business with China. We asked: What are the strategies panellists have employed? How did they make the right connections and partnerships, protect valuable IP, and overcome obstacles on the route to success?

  • Louie Li, Managing Director, Ctomi
  • Kevin Parish, Former general manager of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (Shanghai) now Chief Executive of China Connections
  • Karl Ye, Managing Director, GMP Pharmaceuticals
  • Joanne Edwards, Chief Executive, Kiwigarden
  • Richard Wyeth, Chief Executive, Miraka

Session Chair: Mike Arand, China Business Development Adviser, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise


FUTURE STEPS: What have we learned?

  • Session chairs: Malcolm Johns and Mike Arand report back.



  • Summit Co-chairs Michael Barnett and Fran O’Sullivan

Prize Draw



With Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff who as a former Trade Minister in the Helen Clark Labour Government inked NZ’s 2008 free trade agreement with China and maintains a strong interest in the benefits his city gains from a strong China relationship. Mayor Goff was introduced by Ateed CEO Nick Hill.

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