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SME's we want you... well actually China does

Monday, 14 September 2015

It’s not often that you find representatives from two major global trends in the streets of Toowoomba at the same time.

But come 22-24 September, that will be the case when Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) host Chinese E-Commerce giants JD.com and SF Express at the Ag in the Asian Century Conference in Toowoomba, and in the context of the new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), their visit could not have come at a more opportune time.

While they may not be household names in Australia, in China JD.com and SF Express are everywhere, and they are coming to Toowoomba on the lookout to source more Australian products.

JD.com, China’s second largest E-Commerce platform with a market capitalisation of $US46 billion, have announced a number of partnerships with Australian companies in recent times, including vitamin company Blackmores and beef processing and marketing companies Sanger and Bindaree Beef.

And it is clear they are keen to further their investment in Australian products.

Richard Liu, who runs JD.com, recently said Australia would be the company’s number one destination for international investment.

TSBE chief operating officer Dr Ben Lyons said this was very pleasing news for Australian food and agricultural businesses, particularly those in the Toowoomba and wider Darling Downs region.

“These E-Commerce platforms are seeking more and more suppliers of high quality food and lifestyle products, and they are looking to Australia,” Dr Lyons said.

“Food is about status in China. Chinese consumers face food scandals every day - they love to buy high quality food and health products, and pay premium prices for it.

“E-Commerce is great because producers can now get data on who is using, eating and buying their product, and as a result, can get immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

“And with Toowoomba now housing an airport with the capability to deliver jet fresh produce to these fast growing markets, the Darling Downs region looks superbly positioned to literally takeoff with the boom in online retail in China.”

Dr Lyons said that with rapidly changing pace of Asian markets there are so many gaps in knowledge for many businesses, and that’s where the Ag in the Asian Century Conference comes in.

“The world is changing – the world’s biggest taxi company, UBER, doesn’t own a car; the world’s biggest accommodation group, Airbnb, doesn’t have any hotels, rooms or concierges, and the list could go on," Dr Lyons said.

“These E-Commerce platforms are basically very new to international supply chains and products, and while their knowledge is deficient in many areas they have the ability to communicate with consumers – so we see the Ag in the Asian Century Conference as great way to learn with them on what the end consumer will want and how to get that prime rib fillet or that fresh broccolini to affluent Chinese homes.”

More information about the Ag in the Asian Century Conference can be found at www.agintheasiancentury.com.au

For media enquiries contact Anna Jones on (07) 4639 4600.

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