Gallagher Group CEO and Kiwi captain of industry Sir William Gallagher has thrown his entrepreneurial weight behind a push for increasing kiwi exports into Germany – at a time when the economy is under pressure through the impact of COVID-19 on major sectors like tourism and hospitality.
Sir William has taken up an honorary role as inaugural patron of the German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Inc. (GNZCC), which supports trade between the two countries and represents a membership group of more than 270 businesses operating in New Zealand, with a German-New Zealand trade focus.
In his new role, Sir William will work alongside the GNZCC to raise the profile of German trade here, as well as assist new and established New Zealand companies to grow their export business into Germany. Trade between the two countries totals almost $6 billion a year and German ranks fifth as a trading partner behind China, Australia, the United States and Japan – and ahead of the United Kingdom.
Sir William says he took up the invitation to be GNZCC Patron “with relish” and views it as a privilege. “I really value the business connections both my own company and New Zealand, as a whole, have with Germany. It was one of Gallagher Group’s first export markets in Europe, and is still a strong, vibrant connection for us.
“I admire Germany’s open-market economy and support for free trade, as well as its emphasis on high-value, high-technology products and the country’s commitment to apprenticeship-based skills training.
“I look forward to helping kiwi entrepreneurs and companies, in conjunction with the GNZCC, to grow the volume and value of trade into Germany in the future. It offers enormous opportunities in so many areas.”
GNZCC chief executive officer Monique Surges says the appointment of Sir William was a major coup for the organisation and the New Zealand economy. She says the Chamber is constantly seeking to expand trade between the two countries and invited Sir William into the role to bring his formidable export knowledge and experience to the table in support of that future trade growth.
Ms Surges says the current COVID-19 virus emergency was certainly a hugely unsettling event for the economies of both countries. “But it has heightened the importance of establishing and maintaining strong trade links and encouraging export growth into Germany. With the virus impacting heavily on tourism and the hospitality industry, it’s important for manufacturing and other export industries to keep the country prosperous.”
Ms Surges says there was much to admire about the Gallagher Group and its CEO. “It’s a generational business started by Sir William’s father in the 1930s, founded on sound principles, focused on delivering quality products and services, and expertly led by Sir William.
“It’s very like many of the iconic German companies within our fold, so the fit was perfect for us.”
Ms Surges says Sir William’s appointment was also timely. “The New Zealand Government is committed to diversifying its export trade and reducing its dependency on some markets such as China. Germany has been identified as one of five countries where the NZ Government really wants to ‘lift’ trade as part of its current economic strategy to 2022 – the only non-Asian country targeted. We’re also at a point of advancing the FTA between New Zealand and the European Union. It’s a pivotal period with enormous potential for positive growth for Kiwi businesses, which is why we’ve asked Sir William to help advance the export push into Germany.”
Trade training would be one area of strong focus, Ms Surges says. “The German system of apprenticeship training has been hugely instrumental in Germany’s growth and is something of a model which Sir William and GNZCC hope to draw learnings from, for New Zealand businesses.”
Photo: Sir William (centre), with Monique Surges and Jim Bibby, president of the German-NZ Chamber of Commerce.