Companies fly high in China

China - South Africa

It goes without saying that South Africans are flying the flag high when it comes to doing business abroad and the 2013 South African Expos held in China last week was indicative of this.

Innovation, passion to succeed and to give back to one’s country of birth formed the elements of South African companies that recently showed off their mettle in three Chinese Cities – namely Xiamen, Shanghai and Beijing.

This is the third year of the Expos, hosted in China, by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

At the expos, South African companies showcased the scope and scale of diversified value – added products for export to China, which is a significant investor in the SA economy. The companies at the expos also profiled opportunities in South Africa for potential direct investment by Chinese enterprises.

Bayede Marketing makes its mark in Wallmart stores

At the last city to hold the Expos, Beijing, SAnews caught up with Bayede Marketing, which markets wine. The wines are now sold in Wallmart stores in China.

The wines on display at the expos carry beadwork around their necks. The Bayede (Hail the king) wines are the only South African wine range with a royal signature on the label.

The wines bear the signature of Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini. The beadwork around the neck of the bottles is the work of people in rural areas.

The expos have been good to the company with the company now signing a new export agreement, its Chief executive officer Antoinette Vermooten says as she and a colleague prepare their stand for business ahead of the opening of the expos in Beijing.

“We are in all the Wallmart stores in China. We export at least 12 containers to China a year,” she says of the nearly 200 000 bottles of wine.

The new agreement involves the sending of four containers — one of each containing 12 400 bottles of wine — to China on an annual basis. These will be exports of a new wine brand exhibited at the expos. “This is a long term agreement,” says Vermooten.

She hopes to start exporting the new brand before the end of the month. The Chinese wine market was proving to be thirsty for good quality wines.

“It’s a wonderful market and I think for the wine industry this should be the focus. They do buy top quality,” says Vermooten.

Illuba shows off fresh flower décor

As the number of the crowd grows at the Expo, another innovative South African company is attracting interest at its stand.

Illuba, another of the total 63 companies that were showing off their wares at the expos, supplies long-lasting fresh cut flowers and foliage for the local and international market. This company takes fresh cut flowers through its patented technology which involves a series of chemical dips whereby sap from the flowers is extracted and replaced with a natural preservative that will keep the flower soft and help it maintain its colour.

Through this process, the flowers should last for two to three years if cared for properly. “What we try and do is to offer the market a natural alternative to artificial flowers. What’s been happening over the last few years is that because of the economic climate people can’t afford to replace fresh cut flowers on a weekly basis. So people have been moving to artificial flowers or other means of decorations like paintings,” says the company’s Stephanus Viljoen.

With the help of the dti, the company started exporting in 2009 starting off with roses and a variety of foliage. The company had received assistance through the dti’s Export Marketing & Investment Assistance Scheme (EMIA). EMIA partially compensates exporters for costs incurred in respect of activities aimed at developing export markets for South African products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into South Africa.

The company targets the décor and gifting industry with 80% of its production going to Europe. “This is our first crack at the Asian market. It’s my first visit to China and the response we are getting is mind blowing. It is much greater than we thought it would be. People seem very interested in the product,” says Viljoen.

The retail price for one flower in South Africa is between R40 and R70 depending on the size and packaging of the flower. Domestically, the flowers are sold to gift and décor shops. The company’s exports should hit around the R10 million mark this year.

The company has grown from one employee in 2009 to 110 employees currently.

ECDC casts its net in China

Also exhibiting at the Expos was the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) which is an investment, trade and promotion agency of the Eastern Cape province. The ECDC is constantly looking for opportunities for local companies.

China — which together with South Africa form part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc — is South Africa’s biggest trading partner.

“BRICS is proving to be one huge market for local companies. China is a priority market for us,” says general manager for innovation and product development at the ECDC, Noludwe Ncokazi.

Local companies, she said, are already exporting to China, including agricultural products and manufactured products.

Ncokazi said that high level engagements had taken place over the course of the expos where the South African government explained opportunities that are in South Africa as well as clarifying issues such as political stability and financial systems.

“Chinese investors want assurance that government is supporting them throughout.  Beyond this they will have more confidence in South Africa, they know that government is behind business between China and South Africa,” she said.

Eastern Cape companies that export to China include Oceanwise which exports seafood. The company is located in the Eastern Cape Industrial Development Zone.

Asked about how local companies reacted to the fear of cheap Chinese products entering the market, Ncokazi said that that perception did previously exist. “There was that perception initially but we journeyed with the companies and made sure that they were able to take calculated risks. We assured them that products cannot be replicated,” she explained.

Given the attention received at the Beijing Exhibition Centre, and the other two Chinese cities, South African business is set to flourish in China.

“The dti is instrumental in our growth. If it wasn’t for the dti, we wouldn’t be growing so fast. Such exhibitions help us to grow,” said Vermooten.

SA, China celebrate strategic relations

This year’s expos come as South Africa and China celebrate 15 years of strategic relations. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner from both the import and export perspective, with South Africa’s exports to China increasing from R6.4 billion in 2004 to just over R81 billion in 2012. South Africa’s imports from China were at R120 billion in 2012.

At a business seminar on Thursday, Deputy Director General in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Jiacheng Cao said that South Africa is an important and strategic trade partner, adding that the ministry wants to deepen relations between the two countries. –