David Thomas at the Imperial Springs International Forum 2018

David Imperial Springs International.jpg

His statement to the breakout session on global trade on Tuesday 11th December 2018:

“As a facilitator of investment, trade and business between Australian and Chinese SMEs, I am always faced with two major challenges:

1. Cultural differences

2. Complexity and costs involved in establishing and running a business in China

I feel well equipped and experienced to tackle the first of these challenges, though it is by no means straightforward. But the second is much harder.

From my discussions with Chinese Government officials, I know there is frustration and disappointment with the lack of foreign companies who choose to establish their Asian HQ in Mainland China despite the many attempts to simplify and streamline the process (eg establishment of Free Trade Zones, special economic zones etc) and this remains a major problem as many foreign companies choose to operate out of Singapore, Hong Kong and other regional centres. 

For China to further develop its ‘reform and opening up’, I believe it needs to urgently address this problem. My suggestions are:

  • take a leaf out of the experience in Hong Kong, which is consistently rated as ‘the easiest place in the world to set up business’

  • research the work done in Singapore to encourage foreign companies to set up there, including subsidies, concessions and proactive introductions to local businesses

  • deal with concerns and perceptions about IP protection, capital controls and bureaucracy which are often less onerous than they appear to foreigners

  • engage with business people from foreign countries who should be openly encouraged to express their opinions without fear of causing offence or criticism.

It’s hard enough for me to persuade Australian CEOs to give up their first class lifestyle in Sydney or Melbourne to move their homes and families to Chinese cities to operate their China business, without having to face the complexity and costs of navigating China’s business establishment rules and regulations which can be very confusing and opaque to foreigners.”