Bank of China NZ unit funds Chinese-NZ mission to boost trade
By Tina Morrison
May 25 (BusinessDesk) - Bank of China, one of the country's biggest lenders, funded 55 of its Chinese company clients to meet with 120 Kiwi agricultural businesses in a bid to grow trade and help meet its goal of becoming the largest Chinese bank in New Zealand.
The bank flew over two to three representatives from each Chinese company and hosted 348 matchmaking sessions, which have so far resulted in at least four Memorandums of Understanding between firms to work together. A similar venture for 20 second-tier e-commerce companies in November last year helped local manufacturers export US$3 million in the first quarter of this year, it said.
The conferences are part of a push by the Bank of China to bolster China's trade and business links around the world. The bank, majority owned by the Chinese state, turned its focus to fostering a "cross-border matchmaking service" for small- and medium-sized enterprises last year, holding 11 investment and trade conferences, attracting more than 4,000 businesses and 10,000 people and securing more than 3,000 cooperation intentions. Language is seen as one of the major barriers to closer ties, and the bank has funded 60 translators for today's event.
"It’s all about trade and facilitating trade," Bank of China (NZ) chairman Chris Tremain told reporters on the sidelines of today's Auckland conference. "We want to play a key role in fostering trade between our two countries. I think we can do a great job in helping to build exports."
China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, as exports soared to Asia's largest economy following the inking of a free-trade agreement in 2008.
"It’s about leveraging the trade opportunity and of course as a bank we want to play a role in the financing of those trade opportunities," Tremain said.
Bank of China (NZ) registered in New Zealand in November 2014, but didn't start effectively trading until July 1, 2015. It lagged behind Chinese competitors in this market with China Construction Bank (NZ) gaining registration in July 2014 and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (NZ) becoming registered in November 2013.
Tremain said Bank of China didn't intend to compete head-to-head with New Zealand's main Australian-owned banks, but aimed to be "the largest and most successful Chinese bank in New Zealand."
Bank of China (NZ) had $208 million of assets and $145 million of gross loans as at Dec. 31, 2015, compared with $402 million in assets and $307 million of loans for CCB, and $742 million of assets and $381 million of loans for ICBC, according to Reserve Bank data.