Enterprise Estonia export advisor recommends making thorough preparations before entering the Chinese market

26.10.2020

Our Chinese export advisor Ilaria Perla has been living and working in China for the past five years. "During my time working for Enterprise Estonia, I’ve helped more than 30 Estonian companies from different sectors grasp the characteristics of the Chinese market and overcome difficulties associated with entering it," she says.

Ilaria started working in China shortly after graduating from university with a degree in Chinese. "Everyone with experience working in China told me that all the locals would want to speak to me, if only because I was a foreigner," says Ilaria about her first business experiences in China.

"Everyone I talked with at one of my first business events in Southern China was very polite, but too timid to engage in further conversation about business. As a result, I spent an entire evening exchanging nothing but pleasantries! " Ilaria adds that a colleague of hers was successful in striking up in-depth business conversations.

"At first I thought the obstacle was my Chinese, but after some time I realised that you can’t talk shop during your very first meeting in China." She says that a good business partnership is based on trust and mutual contributions.

The Chinese economy is a world leader in purchasing power and Ilaria recommends making thorough preparations before entering this market. First, you must observe China as a whole to later find a suitable region or city and target group for your company. "China isn’t one market,” she advises. “What works great in cities like Beijing or Shanghai won’t be as effective in smaller cities. And what’s effective in the north won’t be as effective in the south or east. With more information at your fingertips, you can create a better strategy and be that much more successful." Any entrepreneurs interested in China’s markets can contact Ilaria.

She has previous experience of working on European Union projects and in the private sector. Originally from Italy, she loves different languages – when travelling, she always learns a few useful phrases to chat to the locals with. "But the first word I learned in Estonian wasn't tere (‘hello’), but actually riivsai (‘breadcrumbs’)!" she reveals. Ilaria speaks fluent Chinese, which is a great help in local dealings and preparing sales materials.

If you are interested in exports related to China, please contact: 

Ilaria Perla
Export advisor
E-mail: Ilaria.perla@eas.ee
Tel: +8613121664284
Address: Embassy of the Republic of Estonia, P.R. of China, Beijing No. 1, Liangmaqiao Beixiaojie, Chaoyang District, 100600
Languages: Chinese, English, Italian, French

To make use of the services of Enterprise Estonia’s export advisors outside of Estonia and to receive a reply more promptly, we suggest using the inquiry form (in Estonian).

The goal of Enterprise Estonia's Asian centre is to offer support to Estonian companies who wish to export to Asian markets and to support business cooperation between Estonia and Asian countries. Asian countries are markets with great potential for Estonian companies, but they are characterised by different business practices, culture, languages and regulations. The Asian centre's services are aimed at helping Estonian entrepreneurs seize opportunities on these markets. Today, the Asian centre offers services aimed at the Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Singaporean markets. 

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