Why taming Four Tigers’ makes more sense than taking on a Dragon.

The Four Asian Tigers; South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, are resilient, free markets with a thriving middle class and a thirst for international goods. They sit apart from their Asian neighbours as role models for growth and prosperity.

Exporting to the Tigers is a breeze thanks to clear regulatory platforms and uncomplicated business processes. In the Food and Beverage (F&B) sector, where I operate, compliance with local authorities can be achieved in a matter of days. No time is wasted wading through layers of red tape.

New Zealand now has Free Trade Agreements with all Four Tigers and while this is a moot point in Singapore and Hong Kong, tariff preferences under the respective FTAs in Taiwan and Korea make our goods significantly more competitive.

Of course, exporting to the Four Tigers is not without its challenges. Strong competition from rival nations, expensive trading terms and communication challenges are part of doing business in these markets. And yet, these factors are trivial when compared to doing business with China, the Dragon of the East.

Intricate and changeable regulatory systems mean that it can take many long months before compliance is gained and your goods can be legally sold in China. The complex nature of the market also makes it difficult to know your customers, respond to market changes and protect your investment. Its common to hear cautionary tales of exporters who have not been paid or have lost their market share due to copy cats manufacturing their product for a fraction of the price.

With challenges like these, taming the Four Tigers is a walk in the park compared to taking on the Dragon of the East.