The Negotiation

On today’s show, we talk with Rob Arthurs, President of Robert Arthurs International, an International matchmaking firm that specializes in matching International inquiries in the agricultural space to North American companies, and helps North American companies penetrate foreign marketplaces like China with their products. Rob focuses his efforts on what he calls Agri-food, and we discuss the struggles involved in this commerce niche, as well as the buying cycle in China, and why brands should look to enter China through one of the country’s 18 free trade zones.

Show Notes

After diving into some of Rob’s background in China and learning about some of the products he’s moved into China, he discusses the regulatory environment around health products and how going an ecommerce route can help avoid rigorous registration and regularity requirements. We then ask Rob to talk about overcoming other struggles he’s faced outside of the regulatory environment (like fulfilling an order for 10 containers of pig feet for Chinese New Year) and why it’s important to be ready to back up your products’ claims before being asked to do so.

Rob then talks about the buying cycle in China, which he honestly admits is an anomaly could be based on any number of things that are hard to predict. He recommends paying attention to the local holidays in the country and taking clues from social media phenomena. When asked to talk about where brands typically go first, he points to the usual suspects of large metropolitan areas but suggests brands avoid the noise and expense of the typical cities like Shanghai or Guangzhou and look for smaller market entry points where it would be easier to penetrate. 

Rob then talks about the value of leveraging one of the 18 free trade zones in China to take advantage of lower import taxes to keep costs down, and to research the different zones designed to benefit different industries and products. He also advises not to expect any of the free trade zones to act the same or have the same rules.

Rob has tremendous experience working with Chinese distributors and talks about what a brand can expect when dealing with distributors. He points to a tendency of Chinese distributors to try and lock down country-wide exclusivity, and advises that you approach each province as if they were an independent country, and to move through China province by province as most have the population of a European country. 

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.