Rafael Jimenez is the China expert at Enterprise Estonia and has been involved with the Chinese market for over ten years. He has managed a company with more than 100 employees in Shanghai and advised thousands of companies on conducting business in China.
Rafael's rich experience also includes leading an expert group on trade at the European Union's SME Centre in Beijing. "My main objective was the same as in Enterprise Estonia - to provide accurate business advice for conducting business in China. I’ve been the author or led the team authoring best-in-class reports about the Chinese market with a focus on opportunities for EU companies, from smart cities to cosmetics, agri-food, software or free-trade zones among the dozens of reports drafted under my tenure,” Jimenez explained.
According to him, the spectrum of inquiries varied greatly. "For example, we answered simple questions such as what is the import tariff for beer in China. At the same time, there were also very complex issues, such as what is the maximum level of 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid or one interesting question, why are all horses imported by Chinese Dutch," said Rafael. In the latter case, the answer lies in the fact that only the Dutch airline KLM had the right to fly horses from Europe to China.
Chosen as the employee of the year by colleagues at Enterprise Estonia, Rafael explains that his decision to move to Estonia was well thought out. "I also had other offers on the table, but in the case of Estonia, I was primarily attracted by the rapidly growing technology sector, but even more so by the "get-things-done" mindset," said the China expert who has now lived in Estonia for more than two years.
He claims he has never regretted his decision. " As for the country and its people, well, it is a paradise; the number of troubles I personally experienced during my two years in Estonia is exactly zero. On the contrary, I only met smart, diligent, and friendly people, extending my network of new acquaintances in this beautiful country very quickly.”
There are always different difficulties with exports, and according to Rafael, China is certainly not an easy market. However, there are many reasons to keep China in mind. "All Estonian competitors are actively increasing their export volumes to China, because they understand that there is no other China. They have considerable purchasing power and demand in almost all sectors. Not doing the same as your competitors would mean committing a business suicide."
At the same time, the Chinese market can be also characterized by fierce competition: "China is the premier league of exporting, the fiercest competitive market in the entire world. Competing there makes our companies better. It is a market that has no mercy for losers, hence, it is the perfect testbed to put Estonian companies’ skills to use."
The message is simple for exporters - if you want to know the potential of your product or service in the Chinese market, contact Rafael. He will help you to map together your product or service against demand, sales channel, pricing, distribution, and targets, and you will return to your office with a narrative for China and a preliminary business plan, with actions, timeframes, costs, and revenues based on a first approach to expectations.