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Monday, 21 February 2011

Business and Chemistry - IYC 2011

The International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) is a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind. The unifying theme “Chemistry—our life, our future,” for IYC 2011 will offer a range of interactive, entertaining, and educational activities for all ages and is intended to reach across the globe, with opportunities for public participation at the local, regional, and national level.
The goals of IYC2011 are to increase the public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs, to encourage interest in chemistry among young people, and to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry. The year 2011 will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Madame Marie Curie—an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to science. The year will also be the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies, providing a chance to highlight the benefits of international scientific collaboration.
IYC 2011 events will emphasize that chemistry is a creative science essential for sustainability and improvements to our way of life.
The IYC 2011 is an initiative of IUPAC, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It involves chemical societies, academies, and institutions worldwide, and relies on individual initiatives to organize local and regional activities.    Source: http://www.chemistry2011.org/about-iyc/introduction .  
There is a New Zealand node for the IYC which you can find at:         http://www.chemistry2011.org/connect/the-iyc-network?show_node=1385
 In 1921 Arthur D. Little wrote in an article entitled The Place of chemistry in business:
The wholly abnormal conditions under which business everywhere is now conducted lend particular interest to another function of industrial research, namely, that of finding new outlets for present products and new products for existing plants. Bankers and capitalists should realize, as they doubtless do, that the basis of credit for industrial enterprises has shifted. Past earnings have lost their significance. Audits and inventories and balance sheets tell the story of past performance. What is now required is the assurance of future earning power. That assurance can be safely based only on technical studies covering raw material supply, the adequacy of equipment, the relation of processes and methods to the best modern practice, the efficiency with which energy and material are utilized, and the status of the product in the market under the new industrial and economic conditions. Now is the time to put our house in order, to sweep out wastes and inefficiencies, to study and solve our problems, to make ourselves worthy of and ready for a sounder and broader prosperity than our country has yet known. Let us go to it.

New Zealand’s international  trade based the export of primary products has at its base, the research and knowledge that comes from chemistry.   Without that chemical knowledge, the ability to export and  the  wide variety of products we export, would not exist.    Little’s article is dated in parts but surprisingly up to date in others, but importantly makes the link between the importance of chemistry to business, and of course to international trade.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

TPP negotiations – Santiago, Chile

Right now the fifth round of TPP negotiations is being held in Chile finishing on Friday 18 February.   These talks are very important for New Zealand and equally important is that New Zealanders are able to see what is going on at the talks through the release of information.  President Obama has said the agreement ‘must be enforceable, and of the highest standard, in the interests of our workers, farmers and businesses.’  I'm sure New Zealand workers, farmers and businesses as well as those of the other countries in the talks agree with that.

There is some information about the Santiago Round at: http://tppwatch.org/  from Professor Jane Kelsey who is a stakeholder at the talks.   The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has no information at this point but there is a little on the Australian Foreign Affairs site at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/fta/tpp/index.html  including the submissions that have been made to the Australian Government.

This Free Trade Agreement has great potential for both good and for harm and New Zealand exporting companies of both goods and services need to be aware of these continuing negotiations.  It is difficult to comment of course when there is no draft text upon which to comment!

NZTE Capability Development Vouchers

Small businesses such as exporting companies with under 50 full-time employees, may qualify for vouchers to help pay for services such as training workshops, courses and coaching that build the management capabilities of their owners, operators and key managers.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Capability Development Vouchers are only available through Regional Business Partners around New Zealand.   Regional Business Partners assess local businesses to determine what their needs are, and to assist them with a plan to help them develop, grow and innovate.

Vouchers may be allocated as part of a plan to help businesses pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of services (up to a maximum value of $5000 excluding GST) from registered providers that improve management capabilities in targeted areas.

For more information on the Capability Development Voucher Scheme or to find your Regional Business Partner go to:


Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Apples and NZ Being Sued by US Multi-nationals ?

The International Economic Law and Policy Blog picks up many of the big trade issues that are being discussed in world fora.   If you are interested you can subscribe to email notification when new posts are available.  The Blog's URL is:  http://worldtradelaw.typepad.com/ielpblog/

Two of the recent issues that interested me were notification that Australia has until August 117th of this year to get organised to issue import permits for New Zealand apples.  Here is the URL for that post:


The other is the  investor-state dispute clause which allows multinational companies to sue governments if they lose profits as a result of new regulation - these are a feature of US trade deals.   According to this post New Zealand could get itself involved in these through accepting this clause in the TPP talks.  See the post for comments by John Key and Russel Norman:


Friday, 11 February 2011

Ceramics Exports to Australia, Canada, Japan – uncovering our trade history

 Photo: Three Colour glaze saucers by Crown Lynn.  Graeme Siddle

Last week I visited the exhibition at the City Gallery in Wellington entitled Crown Lynn: Crockery of Distinction.   Using examples of the wide range of ceramics produced, it tells the story of the Crown Lynn company from 1929 to 1989.

In the early 1930s New Zealand was an importer of porcelain, chinaware and stoneware products valued at £273, 621 from Britain (Source: The Case for Closer Trade with Britain.  ELIS: 330.993 N545).  However the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company Ltd run by the Clark family in New Lynn, Auckland, took advantage of the new market conditions created by the onset of war and import restrictions, and by 1946 100,000 pieces of china per week were being produced.   The Crown Lynn name which became so well known in this country was launched in 1948.

In 1961 the first case of dinner-ware was exported signalling a move into overseas markets.  In the mid-1960s Crown Lynn attempted unsuccessfully to export to the Japanese market, and investigated establishing a factory there.   Considering the high value that was placed on the ceramic craft in Japan and the high esteem in which artisans such as Shoji Hamada were held, this was an extraordinary move.   In spite of this failure, Crown Lynn’s exports doubled in 1966/67 – the main markets being Australia and Canada.  As a result of these efforts the Trade Promotion Council presented Crown Lynn with an award for outstanding effort in the export field in 1969.

The company even expanded overseas and bought the Royal Grafton factory in Stoke-on-Trent , England and began producing fine bone china.   In 1973 there was a joint venture in the Philippines called Mayon Ceramics.

Most New Zealand households had some Crown Lynn and many still do, even if it is only the cat’s saucer!  Going around this exhibition was like going down memory lane.  What was new was seeing the objects we didn’t recognise as Crown Lynn and learning about the history of a vibrant exporting company.
The lifting of import restrictions in the 1980s and opening of the market to foreign investors effectively removed the policies which protected Crown Lynn since the 1960s. In 1989 the factory closed and was subsequently destroyed by fire.

If you are an exporter, go along to the City Gallery in Wellington and see what this company achieved.   The exhibition is well organised and curated and the booklet (free) is excellent. (Information Source: Crown Lynn: crockery of distinction.  Wellington: City Gallery, 2011 ELIS: in processing)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

IT Firm in Palmerston North does Dell deal

Unlimited Realities, a New Zealand software company founded in 1996 in Palmerston North, New Zealand, has developed software which will be bundled on millions of computers sold by US manufacturer Dell.   The company has built Dell Stage which will be installed on all Dell’s consumer market PCs.

Back in 2007 when the New Zealand School of Export was being founded, I talked with Russell Brebner about their export business.  At that stage (July 2007) they were only exporting one product – their multimedia creativity software product Umajin.  David Brebner participated in a trade mission to Japan in 2007 and Russell had already been to Korea.   Russell described the atmosphere in the company as ‘very educational’ reflecting the nature of the Umajin product which was a one-stop shop for schools by bringing together a number of applications.   The Umajin product website is still at www.umajin.com .

The company had two arms in 2007 ‘bespoke solutions’ and ‘the creative arm’.   It expanded into international markets with its launch of Fingertapps in 2008 and currently a number of Fingertapps touchscreen products are listed on the website:

Last year Unlimited Realities received the Most Innovative Software Product Award at the annual New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards for its Fingertapps multi-touch software product.   The judges commented ‘ ‘Unlimited Realities’ are leading in their field, and their application is on the leading edge of the way we will interact with computers, telephones and entertainment devices.’   Unlimited Realities was also a finalist in the 2010 Red Herring Asia 100 awards in which New Zealand companies LanzaTech and Mi5 were winners.