In December 2022, China suddenly discontinued its zero-COVID policy across the whole country, stopping the blanket health checks involving QR code scanning and daily/weekly nucleic acid tests as well as lifting restrictions on cross-provincial movement of people. Furthermore, on 8 January 2023, the Chinese authorities finally scrapped the mandatory quarantine requirements for inbound passengers, opening the country’s borders to business travel.
The strict zero-COVID policy, and especially the lockdowns, considerably hampered China’s economy, damaging investment and consumer confidence. The lifting of the restrictionsis expected to reboot the Chinese economy, driven by increased domestic consumption underpinned by governmental policies and stimulus packages. What does the change in China’s policy mean for European SMEs and what can European SMEs expect when doing business with China in 2023? To answer these questions, the EU SME Centre and the China-Italy Chamber of Commerce have organised a seminar on the Economic Outlook in China for SMEs in 2023.
The first part of this seminar covers the possible impacts of lifting of the zero-COVID policy on China’s economy and what European SMEs can realistically expect from doing business with China in 2023. In the second part, panellists share experiences of SMEs from various industries and discuss how their business activities are impacted by the end of zero-Covid measures and what they expect in 2023 in terms of business confidence and market access.
Born in Germany, Klaus Zenkel graduated in Industrial Engineering. He worked from 1993 to 2006 in executive management positions within the Siemens Group, one of which was Technical Director at Siemens SSMR in Shenzhen. Mr. Zenkel joined the European Chamber South China Board in 2016. As Vice President of the European Chamber and Chairman of the South China Board, he supports the member companies and meets with government officials.
As one of the 300 member companies in European Chamber South China Chapter, Imedco provides MRI shielding solutions for hospitals and research institutions. The company was founded in 1987 in Zurich, Switzerland. In 2006, Mr. Zenkel opened its Shenzhen subsidiary and started its business in China.
Director, JT Business Development Limited
Jure Tomc is the director of Hong Kong-based business development and sourcing company JT Business Development Limited. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing communication and an executive MBA from IEDC School of Management. With over 18 years’ experience with the Chinese market, he has helped prepare over 200 companies/projects from various industries for market entry into the Chinese market. His expertise is in business development, project development and investments. He currently serves as a vice president of the Slovenia-China Business Council at the General Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Slovenia and cooperates with a number of Chinese organisations on private or government level including International Technology Transfer Network, Tianjin Science and Technology Bureau, Belt and Road Medical Alliance, China-CEE SME Cooperation Zone. As a start-up and SME growth mentor and business coach, he is now involved with EBRD, StartupBootcamp, F10 Accelerator and Incubator, BlueInvest EU, etc. With a good overview and understanding of both EU SMEs and Chinese business environment, he can guide and help EU SMEs to find the right connections and business models for entering or operating in the Chinese market.
Novae DXXII LTD
Ms. Yang LIU has unique hands-on experiences in academic research, innovation strategy and management, government relations and policy advisory, business development, public funding and private investment focused on Europe and China with a global footprint, especially for technology and innovation advanced companies or industries. Yang currently focuses on venture capital investment and financial market advisory, as well as innovation project development and management.
Yang has attended the eMBA from Aalto University Executive Education held in Europe and the US, as well as doctoral training in material science and industrial engineering from Åbo Akademi University in Finland.
Vice Chairman, European Chamber South China Board; General Manager, AMS Group
Fabian Blake is a Belgian national who presently serves as the Managing Director of AMS Assembly Foshan, a Dutch-owned company that has been operating in the Pearl River Delta, providing manufacturing services in South China since 2003.
Having resided and worked in China since 2008, Fabian has accumulated 15 years of experience exclusively in South China. During this time, he has played a pivotal role in the operational development of major corporations like the ETEX Group. Additionally, he has successfully managed smaller Chinese business units specialising in engineering services, offering value-added solutions to European clientele.
AMS Group, under Fabian’s leadership, currently boasts a workforce of 90 employees, with 80 of them based in our facilities located in Foshan and Shenzhen. The company is actively involved in the development, manufacturing, and assembly of hardware devices, primarily serving customers situated in Europe.
Furthermore, Fabian has also served as a Member of the Board of the Benelux Chamber of Commerce from 2013 to 2016. His extensive experience and dedication to the industry make him a valuable asset to both AMS Assembly Foshan and the broader business community.
Jochen Michael Thomas
CEO, Giannoccaro Italian Design and Creative Agency
Jochen was born and raised in Munich, Germany, and moved to South Africa at the age of 18 to enroll at WITS University. He quickly realised that the real business world was more interesting, and at age 19 he founded his first company. As a result of his diverse interests, he achieved success in a variety of industries. His primary focus has always been the marketing of these companies. After twenty years in South Africa, he moved to London for two years before relocating to China in 2012 in search of new challenges. Utilising his marketing expertise, he co-founded a Design and Creative Agency in China with two partners, which now employs twenty people and has offices in Shongshan Lake, China and The Netherlands. The company’s primary objective is to provide marketing and branding assistance to western companies seeking to enter the Chinese market, as well as provide assistance to Chinese companies seeking to expand in western markets.
Jochen is also an international expert consultant for UNIDO in the field of entrepreneurship and has completed a number of projects for UNIDO in Pakistan to aid in the country’s and its people’s development.
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