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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Warm Christmas Greetings to Exportersblog Readers

Christmas Greetings to all readers of this blog wherever you are.  Since most of you are in the northern hemisphere I thought some pictures of warm flowers which we have flowering this Christmas might 'export' some warmth into your reading.
Thank you for continuing to read the posts I put up. On Thursday last I listened to a radio interview with the developer of the Read Write Web blog, Richard McManus.  For those who may not be aware this blog was developed in Petone, New Zealand - Richard is a New Zealander - and has just been sold for ca US$5 million.   Richard said that he was getting 5 million hits a month whereas Exportersblog is getting just over 800.  Although paltry in comparison, it very worthwhile for me, and hopefully for those interested in international trade.  I trust you will continue to dip in and see what I am thinking about and maybe in 2012 make a comment.
Certainly in New Zealand with all our political parties in the newly elected Parliament promising to grow the economy with 'export-led growth' - we can  expect  some new and exciting things to happen!?
I know that one of my presents this year is a Kindle - thank you to our American friends who have exported this e-reading technology around the world.  At the moment it is tantalisingly wrapped and awaiting Christmas morning.   It will be a Christmas of discovery for me - importing titles, getting used to the way it works, almost certainly sharing it with family for the first few days.  In one of my early posts for 2012 I will let you know how I have been getting on.
In the meantime try to keep warm and enjoy these summer flowers from my garden in Palmerston North.  Before Web 2.0 this kind of exporting was  much less frequent  - aren't we blessed with technological advances.
Best wishes to you all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Chairs from Lower Hutt

What do the ZAF chair, the LIFE chair, and the Be chair have in common?   They have all been designed by New Zealand exporting company Formway which is based in Lower Hutt.

The New Zealand School of Export's file on Formway makes very interesting reading with three newspaper articles and one magazine article covering 2008-2011.  In the earliest article the furniture maker had just been awarded the Outstanding Individual Award at the Design in Business Awards.   The company had made a ZAF chair for Prince Philip and a LIFE chair for both Steve Jobs and President Bill Clinton.
The next year 2009 seems to have been a roller-coaster year for Formway with the Be chair winning the Gold Award at the Neo-Con trade show in Chicago.   But just a month later the newspaper article from 1 August reports that the Unemployment axe falls on Lower Hutt companies.  Formway was forced to shed 50 staff but decided to retain its design team.
This year in a survey article on 'design thinking' published in the New Zealand Listener (June 4), Formway features alongwith key NZ companies such as Gallagher, Pacific Aerospace, Howard Wright and Zeacom.   The author Rebecca Macfie reports that Formway's Be chair has generated $60 million in international sales since it was launched in 2009.
So what is this design thinking that had been so crucial to the success of these NZ companies?

The guru of design thinking is Tim Brown (Change by Design) and it is about using intensive observation - of customers and potential customers, work and social patterns, and global trends - to uncover latent needs, and applying teamwork, experimentation and expertise to figure out ways to meet them.

Creative design is becoming a key feature of New Zealand's export products and this blog has earlier posted on the innovatove lighting firm David Trubridge Ltd.

Formway's website is at: http://www.formway.com/ and is well worth looking at with two fascinating case studies.

The Be or Knoll Chair -  Image source: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/136/in-the-hot-seat.html

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Export Bank for New Zealand?

In the latest issue of the Exporter (November/December 2011), the Director of the New Zealand School of Export, Dr Romuald Rudzki floats the idea of an export bank for New Zealand.  He says:
'What we need is a comprehensive economic plan founded on an export-based economy.  One which includes all the essentials such as the use of the Superannuation Fund to invest in New Zealand export companies..., an Export Bank that has a different view than the ludicrously high interest rates of the Reserve Bank, more funding for NZTE both here and abroad, and major tax breaks for income earned overseas.' (p.43)

Dr Rudzki says that many countries have an export bank which specialises in support for the exporter.  Four  examples of countries that have an export bank are:
Turkey - Turk Eximbank at: http://www.eximbank.gov.tr/eng/
Malaysia - EXIM Bank of Malaysia at: http://www.exim.com.my/
USA - Export-Impport Bank of the the United States at: http://www.exim.gov
Vietnam - Vietnam EXimbank at:  http://www.eximbank.com.vn/

Since the private sector banks in New Zealand don't see a role for themselves in this area, Dr Rudzki suggests that Kiwibank could become the bank for exporters.   Food for thought for both government and the banking industry here in New Zealand....