The sun rises today on the Year of the Horse in China.
The horse is part of the 12-year cycle of animals that make up the Chinese zodiac.
These animals interact with the five elements – wood, metal, fire, water, and earth.
Today formally ushers in the year of the wood horse, which replaces the year of the water snake.
New Year celebrations are set to continue till the lantern festival, on the 15th day of the lunar month.
The auspicious year has seen businesses around the world looking to meet demand for horse-branded products, with luxury goods leading the charge.
They range from a horse-themed Rolls Royce luxury sedan and high-end watches to the more mundane.
Ironically, the year coincides with a growth in the popularity of horse riding in China, a legacy of the coverage of the Beijing and London Olympic equestrian events.
Membership numbers are growing in riding clubs and horse numbers are rising.
This may also be the year in which global businesses regain their mojo after the pain of the global financial crisis.
The importance of the year and its potential for countless businesses has not been lost on business consultancy PwC.
The Year of the Horse, it noted, was characterised by the animal’s grace, hard work and dedication.
PwC New Zealand called on New Zealand and Chinese businesses to harness those qualities and enhance their business relationships to develop stronger engagement between the two countries.
“We can expect the New Zealand Government to work even harder on its relationships with China, and I am sure we will see more engagements between the two countries,” says PwC New Zealand partner and China Sector leader Colum Rice.
“From our Annual Global CEO Survey, we know New Zealand and Chinese CEOs are more confident about the future and we’ve seen over the last six months how more New Zealand businesses – small, medium or large – have started to think differently about China.
“This is very encouraging. We have also noted a different level of maturity in our relationships with our no 1 trading partner, as businesses have come to a realisation that, as a business driver, China is here to stay.
“New Zealand businesses are thinking bigger and thinking longer term and investing more to turn opportunities into action,” added Rice.
Chinese businesses have also shown their focus on growth under the country’s ‘Go Global’ strategy and as such, have been more interested in New Zealand to better understand technology, knowhow, brands and products, he said.
Chinese companies were looking to work with New Zealand firms to bring back products and services relevant to the Chinese domestic consumer market. They do look for long-term business partnership and cooperation, as well as to invest in overseas opportunities.
“Chinese companies look for long-term business partnership and cooperation, but we need to remind ourselves that New Zealand is constantly in competition with other countries to capture the opportunities in China. We need to demonstrate how New Zealand is well suited to partner with China.
“We are encouraged by the progress we, as a country, have made since the Free Trade Agreement in 2008 and since the launch of the New Zealand China Strategy in February 2012.”