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Businesses changing their tune on China - investment chief

Published: 2:22PM Friday September 14, 2012 Source: ONE News

New Zealand businesses have done an about-turn over the last two years in regards to doing business in China, according to the head of a Chinese investment company.

Though firms are getting more enthusiastic about doing business with China, David Mahon, the head of Mahon China Investment, told TV ONE's Breakfast show it has not always been the case.

"We weren't taking advantage of the free trade agreement. This is not a failure of government policy, it was a failure of the private sector in New Zealand," he said.

"They weren't recognising the fact that this is an extraordinary relationship with the world's most powerful and dynamic market."

It was something that drove Mahon to leave his position as the China advisory board chairperson of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Beachheads Programme.

But he said there is a lot to gain from a closer relationship with the nation - especially because a lot of the cash coming from China is for commodities New Zealand does not need to try hard to create.

"The passive figures are great. The commodities - logs, whole milk powder, but actually the value added products that New Zealand could be making so much more money out of in that market are not being created. "

But New Zealand is in a "much better" situation than it was two years ago, said Mahon.

"I think New Zealand companies have been able to recognise the importance of China," he said.

"I think people are going into the market more sensibly, and I can see many companies are often quite small companies."

In part, it is because New Zealand has realised it cannot rely on the US or Europe economies any longer, he said.

"There's a recognition in New Zealand that our position in Asia, is that we are a Southern Asian economy. And we can no longer depend on the United States or Europe," he said.

"It's arguable that both of those economies are heading into 5, even 10 years of stagnation or even decline. So the shift, and it's a huge shift historically, is that now the Asian economies are going to be the engines."

In regards to the recent Fisher & Paykel bid by Haier, Mahon said money is "agnostic" and it will be a successful deal.