Guan Xian Mei, the General Director of the Ukrainian-Chinese International Business Center, told about the lack of enthusiasm of Ukrainian entrepreneurs, about the high demand for our products and the need to present oneself to the world.
LDaily: For which purpose the business center was created? Why is it useful for business?
Guan Xian Mei: The Ukrainian-Chinese International Business Center was created in the ‘a single window’ format more than 19 years ago. We aimed to support the development of the bilateral business cooperation between Ukraine and China, to contribute to the growth of the countries’ market economy. We are useful to companies, because we provide them with the full information about the potentially interesting partners and projects, help them resolve legal, logistics, investment and organizational issues. By understanding the complexity of the Ukrainian and Chinese markets, cultural nuances and traditions. We try to act as a bridge which improves communication and commercial relations. We always try to be at the heart of everything, keep an eye on economic trends and news to provide our partners and clients with the best services. From April 25 to 27, there will be a significant conference One Belt One Road in Beijing. Gennadiy Chyzhykov as the President of the Chamber of Commerce and me as the Director of the Business Center will take part. This is a high-level international event which will host about 2000 participants, including heads of state and CEOs of the largest world corporations. The Chamber of Commerce and our Business Center have passed the accreditation for participation in this conference. There will be a delegation of six people from Ukraine. I think that taking part in this event is very useful for the Ukrainian representatives, also, we are eager to listen to the speakers.
LDaily: Is China interested in import of only Ukrainian food products or, maybe, other products and services?
Guan Xian Mei: There are many interesting things, however, not all Ukrainians agree to promote themselves in China. Many people don’t want to spend on such trips. No one wants to risk. Ukrainians are striving to come to China for particular meetings with a partner or a counterparty – to not only show their company but to sign agreements. The Ukrainian business itself is not very active. This year, the second China International Import Expo event for drawing companies from all over the world will take place in November. The Chinese government sponsors the event. The companies will present their products in the Chinese market. By the way, we began to prepare for the expo right after the first one has finished.
An additional pavilion will be constructed, where so-called ‘quality of life’ items will be demonstrated. China is currently strongly interested in this. Despite that, it has not create a significant uproar among Ukrainian manufacturers: not many are willing to invest in such events.
Understanding the concerns of Ukrainian companies, we try to contribute to enterprises as much as possible and invite Chinese companies to visit Ukraine by organizing business forums and B2B meetings. We do our best for businesspersons to find new partners.
LDaily: So, do you consider the lack of investments the main reason to present one’s products?
Guan Xian Mei: Exactly. Western Europe is significantly more active than Ukraine. There, even small companies are ready to invest in their presentation and they find important and influential clients at similar exhibitions. I would also like to notice that those Ukrainian companies which agree to participate in various events achieve great results. Last year, we supported such event for the first time, and many participants remained satisfied. That is why they decided to expand their exhibition area up to 100 m2 this year. They expect to sell plenty of goods at the exhibition, as well as sign agreements for the upcoming year.
LDaily: Did companies with really major contracts arrive at the latest exhibition? How did you convey the information to those who are not ready to visit China for presenting their activity?
Guan Xian Mei: Well, large suppliers of oatmeal have already signed the agreement, and our center is now contributing to them to formalize documents. There is one more reputable company which works with sunflower oil. It has signed several agreements for supplying huge volumes of sunflower oil. This is one more proof that all expenses and efforts are worth it. Even if there are no contractual results, companies receive essential experience by studying how other enterprises represent themselves on the international level and how they can improve their products and presentation. Since, it is impossible to get such experience remotely at home, in Ukraine.
LDaily: Probably, few participate in such events – companies simply do not know how such trips can result?
Guan Xian Mei: We fully inform publicity about successful cases, we share information and conduct meetings. Many companies take an interest at first but, unfortunately, they refuse at the very last moment when it is necessary to pay for the participation. They explain this by doubting the outcome of the exhibition. But where can the Chinese market hear about them, if not at such events?
LDaily: You tell this is about money. How much does it cost to participate in the exhibition?
Guan Xian Mei: The price is $300 per one square meter. On our part, the task is only to contribute their participation. As the exhibition is quite serious, not all enterprises get accreditation, which is conducted in several stages. At this exhibition, we submit and register as a collective stand and become security for companies, displayed from us. It is difficult to get into the event independently. However, as we have already proven ourselves and the Chamber of Commerce supports us, we would like to help other companies and familiarize the Chinese market with their products and services.
LDaily: Does the state contribute you somehow in promoting business through the business center?
Guan Xian Mei: The full contribution is provided by the Chamber of Commerce. The state does not take part.
LDaily: Which Ukrainian projects is the Chinese business currently investing in?
Guan Xian Mei: The Chinese business in Ukraine is interested in agriculture and alternative energy, as well as in high technologies and fundamental construction. We often organize forums in various business areas. Chinese entrepreneurs arrive and we show them Ukrainian projects and companies. We also send them projects’ descriptions via email. Recipients inform us what they are interested in, and we organize meetings. Our Center is a so-called bridge between Ukrainian entrepreneurs and large Chinese companies. Before coming to Ukraine, PRC companies learned about the Business Center, about its reputation. They now fully trust us. They consider the information from us reliable and correct. So, we are a kind of a resource which fully provides data, finds and offers potentially interesting projects.
LDaily: Do you support any social projects?
Guan Xian Mei: Last year, China University of Physical Education decided to start cooperation with Ukrainian University. We helped them by providing contacts and organizing meetings. We are currently in the process of negotiations between Ukrainian and Chinese Universities about the exchange program and cooperation in the research field. Today, only the draft contract was agreed, nothing is signed yet, as this process is not fast.
LDaily: What projects are you currently working on?
Guan Xian Mei: We are actively preparing for the above-mentioned November exhibition in China. In May, we hosted a large delegation of companies from the PRC and conducted a successful event ‘Business meeting Ukraine-China’. In autumn, we organize an investment forum. This is what relates to the exhibition activity, but besides this, there is a range of other projects we promote in China.
LDaily: Who is financing the activity of your Business Center? Is this the Chamber of Trade and Commerce?
Guan Xian Mei: We finance our activities with our own funds.
LDaily: What plans do you have for the nearest three years? Are you going to expand?
Guan Xian Mei: Our work is not easy and requires a lot of time and efforts. The most difficult is the negotiation process which often can be lengthy. Organizing one big event in a year means a huge work behind. We are currently conducting negotiations in several directions, and once they are finished, our immediate activity starts. Then, of course, we will be able to talk about the expansion.
LDaily: Which business directions did Ukrainians develop in China in 2018?
Guan Xian Mei: The main focus was on the food products industry. Ukraine has to show itself, demonstrate its capabilities, potential, and the already achieved results. If you don’t present yourself, there will be no cooperation.
If the sales of food products in Ukraine do not increase, there will be a need to sell abroad, and this will increase income. China buys products in Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland, and other countries. This is not a problem. Ukraine simply needs to show the highest quality and its market privileges. China has a 1.5-billion population. People eat a lot, and Ukrainian products are in high demand there. There is room for improvement for Ukraine.
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