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Our brand is flying in China

Edition 165 Premier Hodgman, Minister Groom and Tim Hess from Petuna with Mr Tang Qiqing  the Chairman of Shanghai Fisheries General Corporation (Group) at the Savour Tasmania dinner

Tasmania’s brand is on the rise in China, the leader of Tasmania’s largest trade mission to our biggest export customer said in September.

The Minister for State Growth, Matthew Groom, said awareness of Tasmania and its quality products was on the increase.

One of the mission organisers, Mark Bowles of the Department of State Growth, said: “The level of recognition and respect for Tasmania is really gratifying.

“In Chinese minds we are seen as a sort of earthly paradise. The brand has moved far beyond simply being clean/green to being seen as much more exotic and super-premium.”

Mr Groom said the Bank of China was establishing a Tasmania working group, with the possibility of setting up operations in the State to facilitate investment and provide services to tourists.

Chinese visitation to Tasmania has increased by 300 per cent in three years.

The eight-day mission involving more than 50 industry and Government delegates delivered a number of significant agreements, including:

  • The Tasmanian Polar Network and the Polar Research Institute of China agreeing to establish a support services hub in Hobart;
  • Department of State Growth and food-distribution company, Cofco, to work together on the online-driven distribution of Tasmanian premium produce;
  • Hydro China and PowerChina moving towards a joint venture with Entura;
  • University of China Academy of Science agreeing to collaborate on disease research with the Save the Tasmanian Devil project;
  • TasTafe and Tianjin Youth Professional College to develop a vocational education program;
  • Shenhua Energy to cooperate with Hydro Tasmania on electricity retail prospects in China.

The Premier, Will Hodgman, used the mission, in part, to build interest in Tasmania’s tourism sector.

He met several Chinese airlines to discuss routes to Tasmania and future direct flights.

“There’s insatiable appetite to come and see what we have to offer,” Mr Hodgman said. “Our job is to find more seats on planes to get people here.”

Mr Hodgman said direct flights would not be possible until 2017 when the Hobart Airport runway extension work would be finished.

Delegation member Luke Martin, from the Tourism Council, said it had been reassuring to see the State regarded as an attractive destination, particularly for nature tourism, wine and whisky.

Mr Groom, who signed the MoU on cooperation in polar research, said: “This agreement will see the Tasmanian Polar Network explore options to provide services in Tasmania.

“This will include repair and maintenance, spare parts and technical support for snow tractors, mobile polar vehicles, power equipment and other machinery, as required.

“Australia and China have a close and long-standing collaborative relationship on Antarctic matters.”

Mr Hodgman signed an MoU with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The agreement will see increased cooperation in research, development, improvement and production of medicinal plants commonly used in traditional Chinese treatments.

“Tasmania has a world-class reputation for growing premium produce with ideal growing conditions,” Mr Hodgman said.

Chinese interests have already acquired an east coast farm for medicinal plant production.

Produce, in a highly refined form, was served up by Tasmanian chef Andre Kropp and a local kitchen team during a gala dinner for 280 in Shanghai, while deals were progressed involving cherries, apples and other premium food exports.

Mr Groom said: “There were millions of dollars worth of deals being negotiated involving Tasmanian fruit … cherries and apples mainly, there were also significant deals being discussed with salmon.”

One of Mr Groom’s key messages at the dinner was: “We have the best air and water quality, as well as the safest quarantine conditions.”

During the 2014–15 season, more than 300 tonnes of Tasmanian cherries were shipped to China, making it the second-largest export destination for Australian cherries.

“We have a lot of potential for growth with our fruit production capacity,” Mr Groom told diners.

“What I would like to highlight is that premium Tasmanian fruits will be always the freshest and safest on the market, even as our export volume to China continues to rise.”

Tasmanian seafood, wine, whisky, walnuts, honey and cream were also promoted.

An energy round table in Beijing focussed on attracting energy-intensive Chinese industries to Tasmania to take advantage of the State’s abundant renewable energy.

Hydro Tasmania signed an in-principle agreement with potential Chinese partners in a joint venture aimed at creating growth opportunities for its specialist power and water consulting business, Entura.

Hydro Tasmania and its co-signatories, PowerChina Huadong and HydroChina (both subsidiaries of PowerChina), will now undertake further assessment and due diligence with the intent of reaching a formal agreement later in the year.

Hydro Tasmania CEO, Steve Davy, said: “The parties’ vision for the joint venture is to be a leading specialist power and water consultant, delivering services … to customers across Australia and the Pacific, South and South East Asia and Africa.”

The heads of agreement describes the objectives and proposed nature of the joint venture, and some of the steps that will need to occur to finalise it.

The Tasmanian Government also discussed with the Fujian Provincial Government the launching of Tasmania Week in Fujian and a Fujian Week in Tasmania.

The delegation was able to assess Chinese tourism expectations during a visit to sub-tropical Hainan island, a key holiday destination for the world’s most populous nation.

Delegates on the trip represented more than 30 Tasmanian businesses across seven sectors.

Image: Premier Hodgman, Minister Groom and Tim Hess from Petuna with Mr Tang Qiqing the Chairman of Shanghai Fisheries General Corporation.

6 October 2015, Edition 165

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