By Kate Madley

Recent economic data suggests the Chinese growth is slowing slightly, but there is no shortage of opportunities if you know where to look.

While China’s annual rate of growth at 7.4% in the third quarter was down 0.2% from the previous three months, retail sales are 14.2% higher year-on-year signalling domestic consumption is growing.

The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) says the markets are there – especially if you are prepared to look beyond the main centres.

With China being the size of an individual continent and home to 20% of the world’s population, breaking the nation down geographically is vitally important for any business looking to enter the market.

“Businesses often look for familiar places as potential destinations for trade, but there are opportunities in most regions, not just in the more well known areas around Shanghai, Beijing and South East China,” says Mike Thomas, manager and China business adviser at CBBC.

“Language and cultural differences very often deter some businesses from considering China as an export market but if certain steps are followed there is potential for considerable rewards.”

The CBBC’s latest report suggests there is a multitude of opportunities for businesses looking to trade highlighting the vast, untapped south-west region of China.

Exports to China account for 3% of British international trade, a low figure for such a large economy and one CBBC says is considerably lower than other countries such as Germany and the USA.

For a Llanelli based industrial fans manufacturer, China is a growth market with which they now have direct links.

“With exports accounting for approximately 90% of our turnover in the last year, we have made significant inroads in developing stronger business links with China and have shipped two large orders to the Shanghai region,” says Neville Daniels, Managing Director of Daniels Fans.

“The business had been indirectly exporting to China for a number of years through suppliers in Europe, but now we have a direct route to trade.

“China is a priority market for us, but making an initial network of contacts has been quite challenging. We recognise the huge potential the market offers the business and with the help of local representation we now aim to secure sustainable work.”

“Product quality is extremely important in the Chinese market. We are competing fiercely against lower priced Chinese manufacturers but it is the high quality product that we deliver that makes us a desirable supplier.”

CBBC offers a wide range of services to help businesses reach Chinese markets. “Before taking on China, any business should seek professional advice from specialist organisations such as the CBBC,” said Mike Thomas.

“We can help determine if there is demand for their product or service and which region of the country to target first.  And further assistance can then be given to help identify reputable potential Chinese business partners.

“The Chinese business culture is very different to that of the West but Chinese businesses are being encouraged to look globally, and to be more receptive to trade with the West.”