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Tax and other changes have been made, but greater affluence and the rapid rise of e-commerce create more opportunities for New Zealand exporters to China, writes Tim McCready.

It used to be said that the biggest challenges to doing business in China were language, culture, and the sheer scale of the market. Now, throw in the rapid pace of change.

Over the past month, a raft of changes to regulations and tax have been introduced by the Chinese government. E-commerce is also evolving at a pace never seen before, and New Zealand’s access to online channels have never been easier.

Though some of these changes are likely to cause price increases, the premium customers New Zealand exporters target tend to make shopping decisions far less based on price and are prepared to pay for the safety and reassurance that comes with the New Zealand brand.

Research by The Boston Consulting Group and AliResearch, the research arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, found the increasingly powerful role of e-commerce is rapidly reshaping China’s economy and consumer market.

China has now overtaken the United States to become the world’s largest e-commerce market. In 2010, online transactions made up only 3 per cent of Chinese private consumption. Since then, the number of online shoppers has nearly tripled, with online transactions now accounting for 9 per cent of private consumption.

This growth is expected to continue. China’s Ministry of Commerce expects the country’s cross border e-commerce trade to reach 6.5 trillion yuan (about NZ$1.5 trillion) this year.

Coupled with an increasing demand from Chinese consumers for quality and safe products, it is no surprise this transformation presents an enormous opportunity to New Zealand exporters.

The evolution of e-commerce products in China means that it has never been easier than now for exporters to take advantage of the platform.

This was highlighted last month during Prime Minister John Key’s visit to China. New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Alibaba signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at developing opportunities for New Zealand businesses to enter China’s consumer market through e-commerce channels and potentially providing access to millions of new customers.

In 2014 New Zealand Post launched an online store for New Zealand products on Alibaba’s Tmall Global. Chinese banks operating in New Zealand also see the importance of e-commerce, and are beginning to introduce their own online shopping malls.

ICBC New Zealand, China Construction Bank, and Bank of China are all actively promoting their own e-platforms and e-commerce consulting services to their clients.

In the wake of the explosive growth of online shopping, China’s Ministry of Finance, the General Administration of Customs and the State Administration of Taxation introduced new tariffs on cross-border e-commerce, effective April 8, 2016.

Online purchases will no longer be eligible for the lower personal tax rate of 10 per cent on parcels worth less than 1000 yuan (NZ$224), or no tax on parcels worth less than 50 yuan (NZ$11.20). Instead, imported products purchased online will be treated as imported goods, and are required to include an 11.9 per cent tax.

Under the current system, many products have been entering China with minimal tax. Although some have reported this tax as a crackdown, others consider it the closing of a loophole in regulation.

Eliminating the tax advantage offshore sellers have over locals helps level the playing field, and makes up part of a pledge by the Chinese Government to protect domestic retailers.

On April 7 all major government bodies in China involved in food and drug control, customs and tax, and business trading, jointly published a cross-border e-commerce retail list of imported goods.

This so-called “positive list” outlines products that are allowed to enter the country via free trade zones. Running to 23 pages, the list initially included wine and infant formula, but omitted adult milk powder and long-life UHT milk – though it has since been revised to allow both.

In addition to the list of prescribed products, China has begun imposing tougher regulations on infant formula products sold online.

Forming part of China’s revision on food safety laws, all foreign infant formula companies will be required to apply for new product registration with the China Food and Drug Administration if they want to continue to sell through cross-border e-commerce platforms.

Companies have until January 1, 2018 to comply, but in the meantime can continue to sell without certification.

Speaking at The Global Food Forum held in Australia last month, Gary Helou, former managing director of Murray Goulburn (Australia’s largest processor of milk and largest exporter of processed food), said that although he is surprised at the “clunky way” regulatory changes are occurring in China, food companies must prepare themselves for more sudden regulatory changes.

Helou’s comments were made in light of media, stock market analysts and investors reacting quickly to the changes in China.

Company valuations – particularly those in the dairy or natural health sector – have recently climbed to new highs. This has been dubbed the “Blackmores effect” after its stock soared more than 500 per cent last year in response to the opportunity in China.

However, confusion over the impact regulatory changes on the bottom line of businesses has resulted in a sell-off in stocks.

Australian health supplements producer Blackmores fell as much as 19 per cent in one day. NZX-listed premium dairy and infant formula marketer, a2 Milk, fell 6.3 per cent.

“Daigou” is the Chinese term given to buying items overseas on behalf of others. Products are purchased by Chinese tourists, smuggled into the country through professional “personal shoppers” or bought through online channels – with international students often acting as the intermediary.

With prices of manuka honey running as high as 1789 renminbi (NZ$400) for a 500g jar in Shanghai, it is often much cheaper to buy products directly out of New Zealand.

Furthermore, there is still a deep concern in China about the safety of products – something that was already in place when the country experienced its melamine scandal a few years ago.

Instead, Chinese consumers seek out products directly from somewhere or somebody they trust.

The grey market is a multibillion-dollar business. It can be argued that daigou can help put innovative new products on the radar.

Some brands estimate daigou is responsible for a significant percentage of sales into China. Imported products can be personally promoted to friends and families, which is undeniably an excellent marketing method – particularly in China.

Recent changes, however, have seen authorities tighten up on the practice. A maximum value of 2000 yuan (NZ$450) per single cross-border transaction has been introduced, as well as an annual cap of 20,000 yuan (NZ$4500) per customer before paying an import duty.

To ensure this is monitored, logistics companies are requiring consumers to register online before they will deliver products.

Furthermore, Chinese authorities are tightening up on inspections of goods entering China through airports.

There have been reports of two-hour delays in Shanghai’s largest airport – and products being dumped at the border – as customs officials inspect luggage and charge tax on items worth more than 5000 yuan (NZ$1120).

China is evolving on a daily basis. Managing that, as well as the more traditional challenge of doing business in China is not easy. But greater affluence and the rapid rise of e-commerce is creating more opportunity than ever.

Assuming New Zealand companies continue to have patience, comply with changes as they occur, and get their products across the border, the opportunities in China for New Zealand businesses continue to be almost limitless.

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Tim McCready

Three Chinese banks are now registered and trading in New Zealand.

When the NZ dollar became the sixth currency to be directly traded with the renminbi in 2014, China’s biggest banks looked more closely at the market here. They wanted to boost bilateral economic relationships and support trade, people and capital flows in and out of New Zealand and China.

So far, three Chinese banking corporations — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank and Bank of China — have made the move. They are identifying New Zealand investment opportunities for their existing Chinese clients, as well as working with New Zealand businesses to expand into the Chinese market.

Their positioning in the New Zealand market has been smoothed by the appointment of former National MPs to chair their local boards: Dame Jenny Shipley (CCNZB); Don Brash (ICBC NZ) and Chris Tremain (BOCNZ).

Trading directly with the Chinese renminbi removed the requirement and associated cost of conversion through the US dollar — a significant benefit for importers and exporters.

ICBC, the largest bank in the world by total assets and market capitalisation, was the first to set up in Auckland in 2014, followed by China Construction Bank and Bank of China. All three are among the largest four global public companies as ranked by Forbes. Agricultural Bank of China, which is third on Forbes’ list, is presently not in New Zealand, although it does have a footprint in Australasia, having opened a branch in Sydney in late 2014.

Here’s how the three Chinese banks are positioned in New Zealand.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Registered November 19, 2013)

In the year ending December 2015, ICBC NZ had assets of $742 million, $70 million in issued bonds, and more than $100 million in mortgages.

Although the bank’s capital base here is small compared with the Australian-owned trading banks, in its first two years ICBC’s focus has been on increasing its profile and establishing itself as a recognised bank here. ICBC NZ has 37 staff in New Zealand, with plans to increase that significantly over the next year, and is the only Chinese bank in New Zealand with a retail banking presence.

Don Brash, chairman of ICBC NZ, says: “During ICBC’s start-up phase, the investment required in people, systems, profile and marketing has been significant. It’s not surprising that we’re not in profit yet, but we aim to as soon as possible.”
ICBC introduced its e-commerce platform to the New Zealand market late last year and has had over 4500 transactions since its launch. The “E-mall” allows reputable New Zealand companies to sell directly into the Chinese market through a secure sales channel. ICBC NZ chief executive Karen Hou says, “New Zealand is an innovative country. The bank wants to learn more from this market, so that we can adapt and launch products and technology here that will be of value to our customers.”

China Construction Bank (Registered July 15, 2014)

The launch of China Construction Bank New Zealand (CCBNZ) took place during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to New Zealand in November 2014. CCB is the largest infrastructure lender in China, and wants to bring this expertise to New Zealand. Its local chairman Dame Jenny Shipley has also served on the parent company’s board.

CCBNZ’s total assets reached more than $400 million at the end of December 2015, with around $300 million coming from loans and advances, 75 per cent of which are to local blue chip companies and small and medium enterprises. At March 31, 2016, the total value of mortgages issued reached $100 million for more than 60 clients.

CCBNZ employs 35 staff, with one-quarter seconded from CCB Group and the remainder locally employed. Last year the bank launched the CCB Enjoy NZ QDII Scheme, providing a one-stop solution for migrant investment applicants, offering foreign exchange, funds transfer and bond investment.

CCBNZ’s total value of issued bonds is currently $120 million, including $90 million issued to local institutional investors in 2015 and more than $30 million worth of immigration bonds. CCBNZ doesn’t plan to operate any retail branches here. Instead the bank does a significant amount of marketing through Chinese social media and New Zealand’s most popular Chinese website, Skykiwi.

Bank of China (Registered 21 November 2014)

BOCNZ was launched here in November 2014, with former National Party minister Chris Tremain as chairman. The bank employs 35 staff in New Zealand, and at the end of December 2015 it had total assets of $208 million. BOCNZ’s clients include major Chinese companies Haier, which bought Fisher & Paykel Appliances in 2012, and telecommunications giant Huawei. BOCNZ hasn’t issued bonds in New Zealand, and doesn’t provide mortgages — but intends to do so in the future.

BOCNZ provides full commercial services to New Zealand companies seeking access to China’s e-commerce market. Last year the bank held a cross-border e-commerce seminar with more than 30 Chinese e-commerce operators, and had 200 New Zealand companies attend.

During the Prime Minister’s official visit to China last month, Immigration New Zealand and Bank of China signed a deal that will help simplify the visa application process for the bank’s high net worth customers wishing to study, visit or invest in New Zealand.

BOCNZ will hold a China-New Zealand Agribusiness Investment and Trade Conference in Auckland later this month to introduce New Zealand agricultural technology, products and services to a Chinese delegation interested in investing in New Zealand.

“China presents great opportunities for New Zealand agribusiness to produce and export more, but companies here need the right partner to support them in making that first step,” says David Lei Wang, BOCNZ chief executive. “By hosting 70 Chinese agricultural companies here, we aim to introduce local agribusinesses to people who can potentially help them access the Chinese market and grow their business,” he says.

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Tim McCready

Chief executive says hiring local talent part of ambitious plans to help develop bilateral trade relationship.

It has been two years since the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank by total assets, officially opened its New Zealand subsidiary in Auckland.

ICBC was the first Chinese bank to gain New Zealand banking registration, and since then has made significant progress in the New Zealand market.

Karen Hou, chief executive of ICBC New Zealand, says: “In the past two years, ICBC has worked hard to become integrated into New Zealand. We have grown our understanding of the market and the regulations, and introduced new products. We are still the only Chinese bank in New Zealand with a retail banking branch.”

Total assets of ICBC NZ grew to $742 million in the year to last December 31. Although the bank’s capital base in New Zealand is small compared with Australian-owned trading banks, ICBC’s current priority is on establishing itself in the New Zealand market.

Don Brash, chairman of ICBC NZ, says: “During ICBC’s start-up phase in New Zealand, the investment required in people, systems, profile and marketing has been significant. It’s not surprising that we’re not in profit yet, but we aim to be in profit as soon as possible.”

In the same year that ICBC NZ was established, the New Zealand dollar became the sixth currency to be directly traded with the renminbi.

The deal removed the requirement and associated cost of conversion through the US dollar when exchanging renminbi for the New Zealand dollar.

ICBC NZ aims to make transactions between China and New Zealand cheaper and more efficient. Along with traditional banking services, the bank has introduced new products to market with that in mind – including an e-platform to sell New Zealand products into China, a dual currency credit card, and overseas renminbi-related products.

ICBC NZ considers itself a bridge that can encourage bilateral trade and economic co-operation. ICBC hopes to bring more investment to New Zealand from China, bringing the strengths and expertise of both countries together.

In 2014, ICBC NZ and its parent bank provided $100 million of the $800 million banking syndication for the 27km Transmission Gully motorway from MacKays to Linden. In 2015, the bank joined a funding facility for the telecommunications company Two Degrees.

The bank works at strengthening both sides, by helping Chinese investors understand the New Zealand market, and New Zealand businesses understand how to operate in China.

“Chinese companies are increasingly interested in investment opportunities in the New Zealand market. Helping to build a good relationship between the two countries provides great opportunities for ICBC New Zealand. We can help investors understand the market and how to be successful here,” Hou says.

ICBC group established its own e-commerce platform, “E-mall”, in January 2014. Since then, the number of globally registered customers has increased to over 31 million, turnover has reached more than $200 billion and transaction volumes place it among China’s top two e-commerce platforms by the end of last year.

The NZ pavilion of the E-mall was launched in November and allows reputable New Zealand companies to sell directly into the Chinese market through a secure sales channel.

Since the NZ pavilion of the E-mall went live in New Zealand, ICBC NZ has facilitated more than 4000 transactions on the platform.

Leveraging the increasing demand from Chinese consumers for high quality, safe products, the majority of items on the New Zealand pavilion are New Zealand food, personal healthcare products, cosmetic products and snacks. More and more quality New Zealand-made products will be boarding in the E-mall soon.

The ICBC E-mall has a well-established network in China, which can take care of customs requirements, warehousing, sorting and packing and domestic logistics. Products can be purchased in renminbi in China, while the seller receives New Zealand dollars – with immediate and direct NZD/RMB settlement.

This innovation opens New Zealand manufacturers up to a potentially enormous customer demand, especially now that China has overtaken the US to become the world’s largest e-commerce market. This is expected to continue with China’s strong domestic consumption and rapid urbanisation.

One of ICBC NZ’s key retail growth areas is its mortgage business. Over the two years in which the bank has been operating in New Zealand, customer numbers have grown substantially, and the value of home loans has also grown substantially.

ICBC is known internationally for its innovation and use of technology in banking products. Although the bank demonstrates its retail commitment through its branch in the heart of Auckland’s Britomart precinct, it is preparing to enhance the customer experience by launching a complete online direct banking solution.

This may not require the customers to visit the bank, instead replicating the traditional banking experience online – right through to opening a bank account. In addition, the online banking system is able to do cross-border remittance all over the world.

“Creativity and innovation are both very important to ICBC,” Hou says. “New Zealand is an innovative country. The bank wants to learn more from this market, so that we can adapt and launch products and technology here that will be of value to our customers.”

ICBC NZ was the first bank in the Southern Hemisphere to offer the UnionPay credit card. UnionPay is the second largest payment network (by the value of transactions processed) behind Visa, and can be used for transactions in New Zealand by NZD and renminbi in China, lowering the cost of transactions when travelling in China.

ICBC NZ has 37 staff currently. “Last year, more experienced local staff joined us and they are playing very important roles in our business and helping us to understand local regulations and the local market,” Hou says.

As ICBC New Zealand moves past the start-up phase, it has ambitious plans for the next two years. To manage growth, the bank will need more experienced staff. Reaffirming ICBC’s commitment to New Zealand, Hou aims to recruit new staff locally.

“We are very excited about the next phase of growth for ICBC NZ,” Brash says. “Although ICBC NZ has only been here two years, we can already see the opportunities ahead of us are very substantial.”

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Law change means companies need to check their insurance policies, writes Tim McCready.

Company directors and senior executives should think twice before adopting a “she’ll be right” attitude under the new health and safety in the workplace regime, cautions NZI’s Ryan Clark.

“Businesses, directors and those in managerial positions will become more accountable and responsible for their actions and non-actions in providing a safe working environment for their staff, and for people that visit their workplace,” he says.

Clark – who is NZI’s National Manager Liability – points out that changes in health and safety legislation consistently rate as one of the top three concerns for boards.

The new Health and Safety at Work Act imposes a broader scope of liability on directors, chief executives, and other officers of the PCBU – “person conducting a business or undertaking” – who can be held personally liable if they breach their due diligence duty.

Clark hopes the new Act will address New Zealand’s poor workplace health and safety record compared to other developed economies.

“NZI takes health and safety responsibility seriously,” he says. “From our perspective, the new Health and Safety Act will hopefully achieve a significant reduction in these types of claims.

“To reduce any incidents at the workplace is a good thing.”

An obvious challenge in introducing the new Act is getting people used to the new terminology. But one of the most significant challenges is changing the mind-set of some New Zealand companies.

Clark believes there needs to be a change away from a “she’ll be right” attitude, towards an understanding that directors and companies must provide a safe environment for their employees, and that the new Act has consequences.

While many larger companies have brought in consultants to review their health and safety processes, Clark notes that changing the attitude of small- to medium-sized businesses will be particularly important.

“The most important thing for New Zealand companies or boards to appreciate is that health and safety can no longer be about putting safety signs in the workplace and a dusty manual on the shelf,” he says. “Companies of all sizes must be significantly more proactive about managing their exposure.”

To prepare for the new legislation, NZI has been undertaking internal underwriting training and educating its brokers and clients about the new law.

Statutory liability insurance insures individuals and businesses against an unintentional breach of numerous statutory acts.

It covers legal defence costs to deal with WorkSafe investigations and prosecutions, and in the case of conviction, sentences of reparation to those who are injured.

While statutory liability insurance has always provided cover for health and safety investigations, and will continue to provide cover under the new Act, cover for legal defence costs will be more important, as more people become vulnerable to prosecution, with higher penalties.

Insurance against any fines remains uninsurable under current New Zealand law.

Unlike ACC, statutory liability insurance covers the legal costs arising out of an investigation, such as the cost of defending an allegation made against a business.

ACC is capped at 80 per cent of lost earnings, and the Sentencing Amendment Act 2014 means the Courts are now able to enforce reparation orders to top up this shortfall, as well as recover medical bills and loss of benefits.

Unlike ACC, an insurance policy is capped only at the level of insurance a business purchases.

“Many New Zealand companies already have statutory liability insurance, but it is often only considered a bolt-on, with not much thought put into it,” says Clark.

“As the policy covers not only companies, but directors as well, I am sure the new Act will thrust this insurance to the forefront of directors’ minds.”

Clark notes that statutory liability has historically been underinsured. Companies may take $250,000 or $500,000 limits, but when taking the new Act into consideration, this would probably be significant underinsurance.

Clark encourages companies to give careful consideration as to whether they have the right insurance policies in place. Defending a prosecution for a workplace injury can be expensive and time consuming, and has the potential to adversely affect the ongoing viability of a business.

Statutory insurance can provide access to specialists, which may include health and safety legal experts. These experts can work to get the best possible outcome for the company or the individual, including protecting their brand and reputation.

Insurance gives access to those specialists – as well as paying for them. “If you have a claim against a company, managers will typically get involved and take their eye off the ball of running their company,” Clark says.

“Insurance allows a business to not only get access to those specialists, but to transfer the financial expenditure to the insurer’s balance sheet – not theirs. Management can get on with running the business, and minimise the time they are distracted.”

The changes are not expected to result in an immediate jump in insurance premiums. Any future increases will likely be reactive rather than proactive.

It will depend on how the regulators use their new authority and regulatory tools, and how much of an example they make of New Zealand companies.

Healthy work

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act will come into force on April 4th as part of the Government’s reform of New Zealand’s health and safety system.
  • The Act introduces a new legal concept of a “person conducting a business or undertaking” (PCBU). This will usually be a business entity, such as a company, rather than an individual.

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Cyber attacks becoming new normal, writes Tim McCready

Cyber risk rated as insurers’ top concern over the next two or three years in a survey released last year by PwC and CSFI. That was up from 13th place in 2013, and 11th in 2011.

Among New Zealand insurers, natural catastrophes remain the biggest risk, but cyber risk — at fourth place — rated as a major concern.

The amount of data about clients that insurers keep on their systems — including credit card information, medical details and underwriting information — makes them prime targets for cyber-attack. For that reason, there is a high level of anxiety among insurers towards cyber risk, particularly software failure and data security breaches.

One Australian respondent acknowledged the level of the cyber risk. “We repel more than 20 serious attacks every day. Half of those we suspect are state-sponsored attacks.”

As cyber attacks grow in number, scale and exposure, they are becoming a new normal for companies right across the spectrum. With that comes an increase in the number of cyber insurance policies issued globally. PwC estimates annual gross written premiums will increase from US$2.5 billion ($3.7 billion) today to US$7.5 billion by 2020.

The nature of cyber attacks means the geographical isolation that protects New Zealand’s biodiversity is no barrier to cyber-related crime. Although the uptake of cyber insurance in New Zealand is rising, it is still low by global standards.

PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey showed that only 37 per cent of New Zealand respondents have cyber insurance, compared with 59 per cent globally, 56 per cent in Australia, and 70 per cent in China. Of those New Zealand organisations with cyber insurance, 25 per cent made a claim in the past year — compared with 50 per cent globally.

It is estimated cyber crime has cost our economy $257 million in the past year, although any figure is likely to be conservative as businesses are often reluctant to disclose a cyber breach, and it is notoriously difficult to assess the true cost of an attack.

In the United States, the Target retail chain reported costs of US$162 million, after insurance payments, from a 2013 attack in which hackers stole data from as many as 40 million credit and debit cards.

To provide protection, insurers need to be confident their clients have appropriate internal defence systems to mitigate the risk of attack. Yet SMEs have traditionally been poorly equipped and lacking the resources and awareness to put the necessary security measures in place to protect their IT infrastructure.

Tim Grafton, chief executive of the Insurance Council of New Zealand, says “the problem in New Zealand is that the vast majority of businesses are SMEs that lack sufficient risk management processes within their governance structures to identify the need for cyber cover. Having said that, brokers are playing and can play more of a role in offering cyber as an add-on to the suite of offerings.”

The Government is trying to address the lack of awareness and strength of cyber security through the Connect Smart partnership, a public-private collaboration launched in 2014, and its new Cyber Security Strategy.

The cost to a business from a cyber-attack can vary enormously depending on the industry and type of data breach. Costs may include a degradation of network performance, theft of physical devices, disruption of business, defacing a company website, forensic investigations, credit monitoring, legal fees, and even penalties for breaches of privacy as a result of not having sufficient protection in place.

Other less tangible costs including reputation and brand damage and the loss of privacy, intellectual property or classified data mean that how to establish the cost of a cyber-attack is still largely unknown.

This uncertainty and the immaturity of insurance offerings mean insurers hold major concerns about underwriting risk for cyber security, and could be exposing themselves to massive losses.

Insurers lack the data required to understand how likely an attack is, or what it will cost when it happens. Attacks are quickly becoming more advanced, and risks increase as companies rely on cloud services to keep their data backed up.

Stroz Friedberg, a global leader in investigations, intelligence and risk management, has predicted that constantly evolving cyber threats, immature risk models, and an underdeveloped reinsurance market will cause premiums to increase over the next year. This is particularly relevant for companies operating in sectors considered high risk, including retailers, healthcare and finance.

This has been seen recently in the US, where an increase in the number of cyber attacks on companies has begun prompting insurers to hike premiums, raise deductibles and cap the amount of coverage available. This is forcing some high-risk firms to scramble for insurance cover.

AIG NZ financial lines manager Katie Young says, “We live and work in a time of constant innovation and increased connectivity, with a resulting increase in the complexity of networks and supply chains.

“At AIG, we’ve seen a growing awareness by businesses in respect of cyber exposures and this has increased demand for our cyber insurance policy. While we’ve been covering cyber risks for more than a decade globally, it is still a relatively new market for insurers overall.

“As claims data develops, adjustments to premiums and coverage could follow.”

Grafton notes that a key point about insurance markets is that “premiums generally rise as the underwriting risk increases”.

“In the context of cyber security, that will differ from insured to insured, but the exponential rise in connectivity and devices linked to the internet of Things does raise the overall risk profile.

“Insurers, though, can cap their exposure through the use of limiting the sum insured, deductibles, exclusions etc.”

With something so unpredictable as cyber security, the only certainty is that a proactive approach to protecting against cyber attacks is essential. After all, cyber insurance will only help recoup the costs incurred after an attack. Preventing a security breach — and recovering from one after it occurs — rests squarely on the shoulders of the business.

• US$2.5b
Global cyber insurance premiums today

• US$7.5b
Predicted cyber insurance premiums by the end of the decade

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Cyber risk creates a real opportunity for New Zealand, Kordia chief executive Scott Bartlett tells Tim McCready

New Zealand businesses are starting to show a real mindset shift when it comes to cyber security, agrees Kordia’s chief executive Scott Bartlett.

“It’s in the papers a lot more, there is a real narrative going on in the business community around business obligations, endless surveys where CEOs say it is a top five issue — a real groundswell happening.”

But Bartlett admits that while this increased awareness is something to take notice of, it is just the beginning.

The next question companies must ask themselves is what they can do to make themselves safe. Businesses need to create a strategy — and then monitor it.

Bartlett sees organisations at different stages in addressing cyber security. “We have seen a lot of public sector departments and agencies jump on that maturity curve sooner than some others. And there are some standout examples among the business community.”

The challenge is that the issue, opportunity, and the subject of cyber security is universal — those instigating attacks don’t discriminate. “The reality is that you will get hacked, and you may not know that you have been,” says Bartlett.

“That is the attitude you must go into this with.”

Over the next year, Bartlett sees external threats increasing.

“We are going to see far more automation of attacks, and the tools are only getting better. Over the course of the next couple of years we are going to see the impact of these attacks worsen.”

One of the major challenges for businesses is legacy code that has been iteratively added to over the past 10 years.

“Find an organisation where all the web systems are new — they don’t exist,” Bartlett says.

“You are probably still vulnerable to things that came two years ago.” For external threats, raising the hygiene factor is critical. But they will always exist regardless of what a company does. Internal threats, on the other hand, depend on culture.

“There is a tendency to think of cyber security as a technical problem. But you can have all the policies, procedures, and firewalls in place you want, but if your people don’t understand the risk that comes with picking up a USB stick and throwing it into a computer, or doing commercially sensitive work on public hotel Wi-Fi, then the bad guys will get around your systems.”

Kordia’s mission is to be New Zealand’s leading business-critical technology company — “you can’t be in the business-critical game without cyber security.” In line with this, Kordia announced the expansion of its cyber security offering with the acquisition of Aura Information Security for $10.02 million in November last year.

Before the acquisition, Kordia already provided security products to customers, but Bartlett describes bringing Aura into the portfolio as Kordia’s “secret sauce”.

Fifty per cent of their business is in telecommunications, and roughly half of that in New Zealand is now security services.

Aura has about 300 customers, most of which are New Zealand’s largest organisations, including government departments, banks, and large insurers. They are also increasingly working with medium sized businesses.

Bartlett stresses that the biggest requirement in cyber security is to do a terrific job for customers — “if you drop the ball once, you are done”.

It is that requirement that makes Kordia acutely conscious of responsibly managing the growth of its cyber security consulting services. Although growth can be alluring, Bartlett insists that serving existing customers first is the priority.

“While we have experienced CIOs and technical folk in New Zealand, cyber security is specialist.

New Zealand’s pitch to attract people here isn’t bad, but Bartlett admits that the world is competing for the same talent. We need to have a combination of “grow our own” as well as attracting the best, he says.

For Kordia, this means making sure their cyber security team of 30 spends more than a fifth of their time on R&D — research that interests them. It’s a huge investment for Kordia, but things are changing rapidly — “if you’re not doing research, you’re falling behind.”

As opposed to Aura’s consultancy services, Kordia’s security product is very scalable.

RedShield provides defence for websites and web applications, and is currently shielding most of the Government and large businesses. It has the potential to go truly global, beyond current deployment in Australia and the UK.

It is obvious that Bartlett has a real passion for the opportunity cyber security can offer both Kordia and New Zealand.

“Exporting IP is fantastic and it is definitely part of the plan,” he says. “Products like RedShield will be key for New Zealand’s economic future — weightless and scalable. With fair wind and a lot of smart people it could become a big opportunity for New Zealand.”

Bartlett notes that the Government plays a leading role in informing and educating. The establishment of a CERT — a computer emergency response team — provides businesses a first port of call for advice, and allows knowledge sharing from the global community and within New Zealand.

This will ultimately help to lift awareness.

But the Government can’t do it alone.

Bartlett has been surprised at how much desire there has been across the spectrum to make the country safer, and how willing people are to contribute to it.

“We are a small country, and should be able to become a cyber security paradise,” he says. “If we can make New Zealand a cyber safe country — the world’s first — that would give New Zealand an enormous competitive advantage.”

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Tim McCready

Sheep milk products may become a Holy Grail as the agricultural industry continues to diversify, writes Tim McCready.
Dairy diversification is a very New Zealand preoccupation, and with good reason. Dairy prices are not becoming any more predictable, an uncertainty that feeds constant rhetoric about the need to diversify away from dairy.

It is true that diversification into technology and intellectual property exports offers New Zealand an exciting future, but it overlooks the potential for diversification within dairy. This can offer New Zealand significant opportunity, new markets and potentially less environmental damage.

Though dairy is still dominated by industry giants, this has not crowded out smaller innovative players. The “alternative dairy” industry has already had success in New Zealand.

Hamilton-based Dairy Goat Cooperative developed the world’s first goat milk-based infant products in 1988. Focusing only on the premium market, Dairy Goat’s turnover in 2014 exceeded $150 million. They show no signs of slowing, with a $70 million spray dryer opening last year.

Auckland-based health product provider New Image Group has partnered with Oete Farms, and plans to increase goat milk products, particularly due to a strong response from China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Even Hawke’s Bay’s regional economic development agency is spearheading a project to capture the value chain for the region’s goat industry — from breeding through to processing and exporting.

Yet it is New Zealand’s sheep that may provide the next exciting opportunity for diversification within the dairy industry.

The global market for sheep dairy is large and growing, driven largely by health, tradition, and fashion. Sheep milk has considerably more milk solids than cow’s milk, almost double the protein, more calcium, high levels of key vitamins, and a creamier texture. It is also reported to be more easily digested than cow’s milk, making it attractive to the Asian market.

The New Zealand government has recognised this potential. The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, tasked with helping businesses to become more productive and internationally competitive, is running a six-year programme to boost exports of New Zealand’s emerging dairy sheep industry.

Their research, involving AgResearch scientists from across New Zealand, aims to grow our dairy sheep industry to become an international leader by better understanding sheep milk composition and function, boosting production and value, and ensuring the environmental footprint of the industry is sustainable.

New Zealand’s dairy sheep industry is already reasonably established, with five commercial operations, but there are signs it can expand and innovate further still.

AntaraAg, New Zealand’s largest producer, has around 20,000 stock units and produces cheese and milk powder, mostly for export. Earlier this year AntaraAg’s predecessor, Blue River Dairy, sold its processing plant and brand to Chinese company Blueriver Nutrition HK — a necessary step for expansion into Asia after a year of unsuccessful negotiation to have Blue River Dairy’s infant formula certified in China.

On top of this, New Zealand’s sixth commercial sheep dairy operation was announced last month. Spring Sheep Dairy is a 50/50 partnership of SLC Group and State-owned enterprise Landcorp, and has ambitions to lead this field.

The partners aim to make Spring Sheep a leading dairy operation in terms of innovation, on-farm best practice, sustainability, product safety and quality, and product and brand development.

Landcorp is one of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations and aims to improve the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of farming. Besides holding New Zealand’s largest dairy cow herd, it is also considered a world leader in sheep farming, genetics and research.

SLC Group is a boutique investment company that provides strategic support to turn New Zealand’s small and medium enterprises into brands that are attractive to a global market and to multinationals, with particular expertise in selling high quality New Zealand products into Asia.

Spring Sheep’s initial operation will be based on 400ha of farmland at Reporoa in the Bay of Plenty. They are converting the farm to milk 3000 East Friesian ewes and ultimately expect to milk 3500 sheep and produce one million litres of milk annually.

Though sheep milk is typically associated with feta, Spring Sheep sees this as a European dominated product and not maximising New Zealand’s added value potential. Spring Sheep is also steering clear of infant formula, which has historically been difficult to capture value from. Instead, they expect to start with ice cream, with the aim to expand their product range into senior and sport nutrition products. They will initially target Taiwan and Korea.

Lucy Griffiths, a 2014 New Zealand Nuffield scholar, spent a significant amount of time last year travelling to meet and work with sheep milk farmers around the world, and has arguably become one of New Zealand’s leaders in the industry.

Her report provides a business plan for New Zealand sheep dairy to become a billion dollar industry in 10 years’ time.

Griffiths can see the sheep industry offering New Zealand massive opportunity. “When I met with leading industry experts in the Middle East, Afimilk, they pointed out that the return on investment for sheep dairy is five years on average, versus 20 years for dairy cows. Sheep dairy could also provide a more viable return for the land and reduce the environmental impact at the same time.”

But Griffiths noted: “If New Zealand wants to position itself as a leader, we must be market-led and offer a point of difference from other large global producers.”

From Soju to Sauvignon blanc – Korean FTA (NZ INC)

Tim McCready

When the New Zealand – Korea free trade agreement signed in March enters into force, tariffs will be eliminated on 48% of current goods. New Zealand’s exports to Korea current attract $229 million every year in duties.

In the first year alone the free trade agreement will save an estimated $65 million in duties, and within 15 years of establishment the remaining tariffs will be largely eliminated. The industries that will see the most benefit are those exporting dairy, red meat, kiwifruit and wine.

The current tariff on wine exports to Korea is 15%, and this will be wiped immediately as the agreement enters into force. This tariff concession will provide a good boost to exporters, but despite the removal of tariffs, exporting wine to Korea remains a challenge for New Zealand.

This is largely due to the tax and distribution system. When wine arrives in Korea, a liquor tax of 30% is applied, along with an education tax of 10%. This is even before it hits the distribution networks, a value-added tax of 10%, and retailer markups.

Korea produces and consumes a large amount of liquor locally. Beer and Soju make up 86% of locally produced alcohol. Wine makes up approximately 20% of imported alcohol. Wine is considered to be a luxury product and is consumed by only a small fraction of the population. Red wine is dominating wine imports at 71%, but white wine is beginning to gain more traction.

With the removal of tariffs, New Zealand wine producers will now be placed on an equal playing field with major international competitors in the market including the US, EU, Chile and Australia. However, the rest of the taxes that make up the total cost of wine are payable whether a free trade agreement is in place or not.

The combination of taxes, high distribution costs and mark-ups can make New Zealand wine significantly more expensive in Korea than in many other countries. And because New Zealand wine is typically sold as a premium product, and tax is applied as a percentage of price rather than a cost per unit, this can increase the markup on a bottle of New Zealand wine significantly when compared to budget brands of wine. This differs to Japan where tax is applied per bottle, and education tax doesn’t exist.

In the year ending June 2014, South Korea accounted for just $2 million of New Zealand’s $1.3 billion wine export business globally. That said, New Zealand wine is increasingly becoming of more interest to South Korea. Until 2001, only one New Zealand winery had a presence in the Korean market. The number grew to 38 in just six years. Demand for New Zealand wine is growing as consumers become more aware and curious to try white wine.

But we still have a way to go.

I visited three cities during my visit to Korea, and one thing that surprised me is that I was frequently asked if New Zealand produced any alcohol. High-end restaurants had New Zealand wine on their wine list, but my experience demonstrated that the average consumer was largely unaware of our ranking in the wine world.

The free trade agreement will undoubtedly be great for New Zealand’s dairy, meat and horticultural industries. But the wine industry will be one to watch. Chile had a noticeable boost in wine exports after their free trade agreement was signed with Korea, and it is likely that New Zealand will see a similar lift.

But it could be that the free trade agreement gives New Zealand the impetus it needs to boost the recognition and acceptance of our wine brands in Korea. And if that occurs, the benefit of the free trade agreement would vastly exceed any reduction in tariffs.

http://nzh.tw/11447897

Tim McCready

Silicon Valley investment an art, not a science says expert.

A leading American venture capitalist, Bill Reichert, believes entrepreneurs and investors have a huge opportunity in New Zealand, particularly in the areas of graphics, animation and agriculture.

Reichert, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures which is based in California’s Silicon Valley, says New Zealand has a unique and compelling advantage across a variety of sectors and is ripe for disruptive innovation.

He says New Zealand now has strong angel groups that have made good investments, and some have graduated to small venture-style funds. However, he feels angel resources could be more aggressively pooled so that capital is set aside for follow-on investment when companies go global. A beachhead adviser for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Reichert travelled with SVForum chief executive officer Adiba Barney to Auckland and the other main centres, making presentations and meeting entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.

They were supporting Callaghan Innovation’s incubator programme and providing local technology businesses with a connection in Silicon Valley. Barney believes New Zealand should leverage the success of technology companies like Xero — just as Sweden, her home country, has done with the likes of Skype, Spotify, Minecraft and Candy Crush. They have strengthened the Swedish innovation ecosytem.

She says Xero is a trailblazer and the network it has created will make the path easier for future companies to follow.

Reichert outlined his 10 investment myths New Zealand angel investors and innovators could learn from (below):

His parting advice was that the water separating New Zealand and Silicon Valley shouldn’t matter – there is also a lot of space between Silicon Valley and New York. New Zealand should recognise its strengths and successes, feel the pride and not be afraid to brag about it.

Myth 1: Invest in what you know.

If you have become an angel investor, what you used to know is unlikely to be relevant. Instead, you should be technology agnostic and consider all opportunities. Most winners are black swans – random opportunities where success seems obvious with the benefit of hindsight.

Myth 2: Focus on making money

You can’t look at a start-up company the way you look at the stock market. The margins and projections an inventor or CEO provide are almost always wrong. Focus on whether they are creating value, and in turn, a valuable company.

Myth 3: The key is good due diligence.

Investors often feel a robust due diligence process will result in a good decision. But you cannot capture the data required to show if there is inherent value in a start-up. Instead, you have to develop good intuition and use your heart to make decisions. This is not something that fits into a standard due diligence checklist.

Myth 4: Don’t let emotions cloud your decision.

Since start-ups can’t give you reliable data, you have to pay attention to your emotions. If, for whatever reason, you don’t like the founders, it doesn’t matter how amazing their business model is.

Myth 5: Build a consensus among a syndicate of investors.

Most investors look for consensus. But historical data shows the best investments are controversial. If an idea is obvious it is unlikely any particular company will dominate the industry.

Myth 6: Success comes from adding value.

Everyone working in investment likes to think they add value. The harder you have to work for an investment the less likely it is to succeed. Instead, invest in a team that has the technology and understands the market. Investors don’t build companies, entrepreneurs build companies.

Myth 7: Protect yourself from follow-on investment.

By including protective provisions for yourself, you will likely poison the company. If you think you need them because you don’t trust the entrepreneur, don’t invest in the company.

Myth 8: Valuation is important.

You can focus so much on valuation that you lose sight of what is important. So often after signing a deal investors go through a surprise at the first board meeting. They were buried in term sheets and negotiated from a presentation that is now long out of date.

Myth 9: It is cheap to start a company now.

This is true, but it is more expensive than ever to build a successful company. Anyone can start a company, which means there is a lot of competition. Growth costs money, and a flat open world doesn’t necessarily make things cheap.

Myth 10: Diversify your portfolio.

There is no point diversifying into arbitrary categories. Diversify your entire portfolio, but not your angel investments. Instead of chasing hot sectors, invest in ideas that are exciting and have an edge – things that could be the next black swan.