China Business Summit: 2020

Covid-19 – The Recovery

The China Business Summit was jointly presented by NZ INC. and Auckland Business Chamber. The Summit was held on Monday July 20, 2020 at The CORDIS Hotel, Auckland.

2020 was the time for New Zealand business to step up trade with our largest trading partner, China, as we started to put the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic behind us.

The sixth China Business Summit provided a unique business and political perspective on what changed since the Covid-19 crisis began.

It examined the outlook for the Chinese marketplace, and, for key sectors like tourism and education, lessons from NZ companies who successfully overcame supply chain disruption and strategies by businesses large and small to help guide future success.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Trade Minister David Parker and a strong array of insightful speakers gathered to discuss the vital opportunities, challenges, and changes in the post-crisis world.

The event was the largest gathering in New Zealand post-lockdowns as we moved into Alert Level 2 for the first time.

The 2020 Summit included

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Trade Minister David Parker addressed the Summit and provided critical insights into New Zealand’s relationship with its major trading partner, China, in the Covid-19 era.
  • The “View from the Top” – keynote addresses from leading New Zealand chief executives on how they were beginning to manage new realities for their companies in the midst of the international Covid-19 crisis.
  • The changing geostrategic landscape: The effect this might have on business, trade and investment with China.
  • Insights into China’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the implications for international business including bilateral trade with New Zealand.
  • Strategies being employed by the tourism and education sectors to maintain strong links with China and enhance NZ brand presence while bilateral travel remains limited.
  • New Zealand and Chinese innovative firms share their lessons on how they have managed through the Covid-19 crisis.

Event photos




  • Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Q&A: Fran O’Sullivan



  • Hon David Parker, Minister of Trade and Export Growth



  • Ambassador Wu Xi, Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand



Three leading CEOs spoke on how Covid-19 affected their businesses and their strategies for managing through the crisis including business with China.

  • Greg Foran, Chief Executive, Air New Zealand and former China head for Walmart. Air NZ was strongly affected when international aviation links became paralysed during the Covid-19 crisis. Despite this, Air NZ played a critical role assisting exporters maintain links with the Chinese markets.
  • Antonia Watson, Chief Executive, ANZ Bank New Zealand. As the CEO of New Zealand’s largest trading bank, Antonia Watson has a unique insight into how NZ firms – including those with major exposures to China – handled the Covid-19 crisis. That focus is informed by ANZ’s own banking experts based in China.
  • Miles Hurrell, Chief Executive, Fonterra. Fonterra had a unique and early insight into the emergence of the Covid-19 threat. Miles Hurrell said its China food business  ‘almost stopped overnight’. But the dairy cooperative’s agility and unique projection of its products meant Fonterra hardly missed a beat during the crisis.

Moderated by Fran O’Sullivan



  • Hu Shuli, Founder and publisher of Caixin Media

As founder of China’s leading financial press, Hu Shuli shared her insights into China’s handling of Covid-19 and the implications for the bilateral business relationship. Internationally recognized for her achievements in journalism, Ms Hu was named one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune in 2017.


Strategies used by companies to keep exports flowing during the Covid-19 crisis

These range from the strategy NZTE deployed during the height of the Covid-19 crisis to assist exporters on the ground in China. Lessons learned from leading export focused companies and thoughts on how the New Zealand brand could be projected into China whilst the direct links were still marginal.

  • Charles Finny, NZ Trade & Enterprise director and former NZ deputy chief of mission in Beijing
  • Jade Gray, Co-Founder of Gung Ho! Ventures in China
  • David Courtney, Chief Grower & Alliances Officer at Zespri International

Moderated by Mark Hiddleston, Managing Director Commercial & Agri ANZ


Chinese businesses invested in New Zealand are taking steps to recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Chinese firms have rapidly expanded their business footprint with New Zealand since the 2008 bilateral free trade agreement was signed ranging from investments in major aviation ties, tourism, food and beverage, technologies and construction. In this session we talked with Chinese firms about the impact on their bilateral business, investment matters and future prospects.

  • Lily Wang, General Manager, China Southern Airlines (Auckland)
  • Xiaoyu Kang, Managing Director COSCO Shipping Lines (New Zealand)
  • Gavin Yang, CEO, Trademonster
  • Yanek Fan, Managing Director, Huawei Technologies New Zealand
  • Terry Lee, Managing Director, Milk New Zealand


Winners & War stories: Lessons from New Zealand SMEs.

The session explored lessons from SMEs that have successfully built businesses with China. The focus was on how panelists’ businesses were affected by the Covid-19 crisis; critical pivot points that ensured business continuity during the various lockdowns, strategies employed as China and New Zealand got back to business and lessons for the future.

  • Nicola O’Rourke, General Manager, Lewis Road Creamery and Chair NZ Food Basket
  • Tara Tan, Founder & Director, Grin Natural Products
  • Kiri Nathan, Founder & CEO Kiri Nathan
  • Paul Cook, Managing Director at Marque Magnetics

Moderated by Mike Arand, China Business Development Adviser, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise


Building a bridge to China.

E-commerce clearly came into its own during the Covid-19 crisis. But will the trend accelerate? And what will it take to reinstate safe travel between New Zealand and China in the Covid-19 era? Those were the questions we asked experts about and talked about the strategies the tourism and education sectors were to employ to keep the Kiwi brand upper mind until air links could be restored. We also learned about how the ‘Southern Link’ initiative between China-NZ-Latam was proving its worth.

  • Adrienne Young-Cooper, Acting Chair, Queenstown Airport
  • Lisa Li, Managing Director, China Travel Service
  • Rachel Maidment, Executive Director, NZ China Council
  • Pier Smulders, Country Manager, New Zealand at Alibaba
  • Professor Jenny Dixon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Engagement), University of Auckland

Moderated by Tim McCready, Director of Innovation, NZ INC.


Collaborating through Covid-19 and Beyond.

The Covid-19 pandemic had an economic impact on Auckland – which is not only New Zealand’s key “International City” but an important international gateway into NZ. Auckland has benefited from immigration, investment and innovation out of China and is home to a large number of Chinese migrants. Tourism operators adapted to leverage the New Zealand brand in other areas at a time where travel is restricted.

We heard from relevant business organisational leaders on their ideas for leveraging the ‘people to people’ and business connections to strengthen Auckland’s economy.

  • Felicity Roxburgh, Director Business, Asia New Zealand Foundation
  • Michael Barnett, CEO, Auckland Chamber
  • Martin Thomson, Chairman, New Zealand China Trade Association
  • Pania Tyson-Nathan, Chief Executive, Māori Tourism

Moderated by Pam Ford, GM Economic Development, Ateed


STREAM SUMMARIES: What have we learned?

  • Pam Ford and Tim McCready



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

Air New Zealand 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.

Media Coverage

New Zealand Herald




One News

Newstalk ZB



Chinese Herald

Phoenix TV


Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

The AM Show

New Indian Express

African Times


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