Much has been said in recent years about the opulence of China’s new elite, and their outsized impact on anything from Swiss luxury watches to designer handbags and super yachts. Less recognised is how consumption in China is becoming more sophisticated and inclusive, as wealth spreads from urban centres to rural heartlands, bolstered by better-educated new generations who are both web-savvy and worldly-wise. As rising protectionism and trade tensions create growing unease for businesses around the world, there is no better time for South African companies to take a fresh look at these new consumers and their potential to drive demand for goods from half a world away. HSBC’s annual Navigator report predicts the value of China’s goods imports to grow at about 8% a year on average between 2017 and 2030, reflecting both demand for intermediate goods for processing and final goods to satisfy China’s increasingly wealthy population. This is as China is bidding farewell to growth based on...

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