Canadian Cleantech Can Clean-up in China

First appeared in the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters' magazine "20/20" 

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Canada’s environmental technology companies know there are huge pollution problems in China, but many are not sure if they have what it takes to enter that growing market. No one wants to be the first one to try something, but you have to start somewhere. Knowing whether you can “play ball” in the Chinese market will help.

Not quite Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might be a Redneck If”, but knowing if you are ready to do business in this market is essential for any Canadian company in the Cleantech sector thinking about exporting to China.

 

You know you’re ready to do business in China if...

  • You have the patience and money to develop and market your solution over a period of time, knowing you are not likely to hit a homerun on your first visit
  • You have access to financial capital to fund the project
  • You have control over your intellectual property
  • You understand what the issues/opportunities for your products/services are in that market
  • You have a unique, differentiating technology that sets you apart, and you have the capacity and experience to efficiently manage projects
  • You have already exported to another international market
  • You have a commercial demonstration plant in Canada or elsewhere where you can showcase your technology’s capabilities
  • You have a solid management team that consists of more than just the inventor of the technology
  • You have sales people, partners or consultants who understand how to navigate China’s complex economic systems
  • You understand the cultural subtleties of doing business in China and can invest in the required translation capabilities to ensure communication is clear and concise
  • You have won awards that give you credibility — in China such accolades are used as ‘calling cards’ and can help you establish your profile

Things you need to think about

Once you understand your position and capabilities in regards to China’s market, there are a few more details to consider:

  • Can your prospects gain permission to leave China to see your installation? This isn’t a guarantee for Chinese citizens so if a prospective buyer can’t leave the country, your sales opportunity can quickly end.
  • How will you maintain communication after your initial meeting if your main contact does not speak English?
  • Can your prospective customer borrow funds to finance your project, even though the solution is sourced from outside their country?

Getting into the market

Even when you know you are a prime candidate to enter the Chinese market with environmental solutions for pollution reduction knowing how to do it is not always clear. In such a complex market, you may need support from other experts to help you understand your options.

  • Talk to experts at EDC including our representatives based in China
  • Get in touch with the experts at the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) who understand the market
  • Join a group of business people or politicians heading to China on a sales mission, and introduce yourself through that network
  • Hire a consultant or industry expert to provide you with background research on state-owned enterprises and the market you will be entering

So! You’re not quite ready. Now what?

If you find you are not yet a candidate for China’s market but you would like to be in the future, there are organizations and expert who can help.

  • Talk to BDC and access their consulting services
  • Talk to any relevant business and trade associations you belong to, start with the experts at CME
  • Talk to Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service with expertise in China
  • Talk to the provincial organizations that support international economic development

Venture into the unknown

With China’s great need for pollution controls on the rise, Canadian Cleantech companies are well-positioned to take advantage of the massive opportunities. It is time to take a step into the unknown and discover how close you are to providing what that vast market requires. More information about the business environment and key industries in China can be found in this China Country Overview.

About the Author

Lynn Côté is a Sector Advisor, Infrastructure and Financial Services Group with the Business Development team at Export Development Canada (EDC). With over 24 years of EDC experience, Lynn has worked in a variety of roles. During the past 5 years working as a Sector Advisor, Lynn has been responsible for the development of strategy, tactics and industry knowledge development for a variety of sectors including the Resources Group focused on Forestry and Livestock and the Light Manufacturing Group focused on apparel, food, logistics and the plastics and packaging sectors. Lynn is now an integral member of the Infrastructure Group focused on environmental technologies and clean technologies. Lynn has a BSc from Concordia University.

About EDC

EDC is Canada’s export credit agency, offering innovative commercial solutions to help Canadian exporters and investors expand their international business. EDC’s knowledge and partnerships are used by nearly 7,000 Canadian companies and their global customers in up to 200 markets worldwide each year. If you are looking for timely information on the latest news in international trade, practical insights from trade experts and learning new ways to protect and grow your sales, subscribe to TradeTalk.

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