The Inevitability of Doing Business With China

There’s a huge difference “between taking active risks and sitting passively at risk,” as Paul A. Laducina of A. T. Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council writes in this edition. Approaching new and unfamiliar markets is always a gamble, but it’s much more dangerous to ignore these opportunities. This is especially true for large Canadian companies. Given the size of our domestic market, companies must exploit markets outside our borders to expand. And inevitably, that growth will require doing business with China.

Great swaths of markets around the world already depend on China for their economic health. The fast-growing Chinese economy is gobbling up commodities from scrap steel to oil to grain to cement. Chinese consumers are hungry for the latest state-of-the-art conveniences, from appliances to communications devices. Today, China is the world’s largest recipient of foreign investment and the lowest-cost manufacturer in dozens of industries. By 2020, the International Monetary Fund predicts that China’s economy will overtake the U.S. economy to become the world’s largest, and therefore most influential, market.

Already, China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner with two-way merchandise trade of $23.3-billion in 2003. That’s up 16 per cent from 2002. And more than one million people of Chinese descent now call Canada home, 75 per cent of whom were born outside Canada.

At Ivey, we have long recognized the increasing importance of Asian markets. With the creation of Cheng Yu Tung Management Institute in 1998, Ivey was the first North American business school to establish a campus in Asia. We currently produce about 50 Asian business cases each year and we lead the world in producing case studies on doing business in China. In addition, the Financial Times recently ranked Ivey’s Executive MBA program as the top North American program in China.

Building on these pioneering successes, Ivey just recently announced the China Business MBA Stream. This new program will allow Ivey MBA students to gain experience in Hong Kong and Mainland China and on-the-ground exposure to Chinese business, culture and language. It addresses the critical need for Canada to develop business leaders who have the knowledge, sensitivity and sophistication to exploit the increasing opportunities offered by China and Asia. Once again, Ivey is at the vanguard of a critical trend – the inevitability of securing corporate growth by doing business with China.