Successful exporting countries generally have high GDP per capita and a standard of living to match. Wages are high and people enjoy good health and education and can afford the luxuries of life – modern cars, nice houses, overseas holidays, leisure goods and other comforts.
So, exporting matters, and this is where the Go Global conference comes in.
Dubbed ‘the exporters’ conference’, the single-day event, held in late September 2017, featured a panel of experts offering their insights in a programme heavy on real exporters telling their stories, warts and all.
Dr Chris Hartshorn – Chief technology officer, Callaghan Innovation
“Manufacturers need to re-think the way they do things to prevent Darwinism hitting them in the face in the future.
“New Zealand companies need to get better at looking for digital opportunities outside of their traditional customer and/or supply chain. There is a reluctance amongst some to move into this century with their thinking.
“A lot of NZ companies are in the digital dark ages. There is a lack of awareness about how much technology has advanced globally, and they are falling further and further behind what is state of the art in the rest of the world. Some don’t even recognise how far behind they are.
“Now more than ever, there’s got to be a willingness and a capability to talk to areas of digital expertise and types of companies that you would never have thought about talking to before.
“Because there’s so much technical convergence, and value chain convergence, and market convergence going on now, eventually someone who you never thought would be relevant to you is probably going to become either a potential collaborator or a potential competitor.”
Antje Fiedler Senior Lecturer – Auckland University Business School
“There are some common pitfalls that NZ businesses experience in China and we have solutions to mitigate these challenges.
“NZ businesses often have a specific customer in mind that works well in NZ and they try to transfer that overseas, but things work differently in China.
“There are two steps – the first is to identify the right target customer in China (which is a whole story in itself). Step two is selecting the distributor or business partner in the market.
“If NZ businesses don’t do this, they will stay completely disconnected from the market. They may achieve some sales, but they will never achieve a good understanding of the market and create more value for customers.
“There are strategies and mechanisms that can help exporters understand how to select good business partners and how to maintain that relationship.”
Elinor Swery – PhD – Digital Strategy, IBM
“If 40 percent of NZ’s GDP is going to be from exports by 2025, as part of that we need to manufacture high-quality goods to export overseas, so we need to be competitive on ensuring there are no defects.
“We can use AI (artificial intelligence) to detect defects in real time in a manufacturing line as part of a relatively low-cost quality assurance process.
“The technology is available now and is accessible to anyone, you don’t need to be an expert. You just need either a simple camera or office scanner as a way to capture images for inspection. We can then train Watson (the AI platform) to look for anomalies in the images.
“Using AI to produce guaranteed higher-quality goods can help differentiate us in overseas markets. Ultimately, it will ensure that higher quality parts are produced at a lower cost.”
Charles Finny Partner – Saunders Unsworth
“Right now, the global trade policy world is hugely confused. There are two major sources of that confusion.”
“In Europe, it’s the Brexit process – no one’s quite sure where that’s going to land and what that’s going to mean.
“And in the United States, we have the new Trump administration. It’s already pulled out of the TPP, there’s a major renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico underway, and they’ve also tried to renegotiate the recently signed USKorea Free Trade Agreement.
“None of those negotiations are making any progress. So we’re still not sure what Trump’s trade policy is going to look like, but it may not be good for New Zealand.”