Minister Meetings - A Commercial Diplomacy Approach for Small Open States: How Danish Minister Meetings can Foster Business Opportunities in China

Bjørg Ilsø Klinkby

Student thesis: Master thesis


Small open states are vulnerable to economic shifts, since these states often are depending on export. The use of bilateral minister meetings has become a common approach to boost trade relations. It is therefore urgent to explore the dynamics of minister meetings as an approach, because this method has received limited attention in academia. Denmark struggles in times of rapid economic shifts and in search for growth Denmark has turned its eyes towards the Chinese market where growth rates are attractive. 2012 was characterized as a year with record high bilateral interaction at minister-level aimed to promote the opportunities of Danish businesses in China. This master thesis will evaluate the Danish approach to China from a business point of view. The theoretical framework of commercial diplomacy will be used as a point of reference to structure this thesis. A brief historical overview of bilateral interaction between China and Denmark will be provided, were it is argued that the commercial relations of today still benefits from the history between the two countries An empirical analysis of the Danish-Chinese interaction in 2012 will be provided through case studies of actions by individual ministers, based on interviews with actors in Danish commercial diplomacy to China. The case studies illustrate great variety of success in the ministers’ performance considering the different focus on commercial relations the minister visits had. In general, Danish business had influence on the Danish authorities’ actions, but evidence suggests an unfair favoring of some business actors. The success of the collective Danish action is measured by the criteria: access, attitude, agenda, commercial aspects, long term value, open doors, push contracts, partner care, increased visibility, timing, preparation, coordination and cooperation. The analysis of the collective action illustrates that the Danish approach have been upgraded in 2012, though the Danish commercial diplomacy to China still have some weaknesses. At the moment Danish businesses are not fully benefitting from the ‘minister-meeting approach’: Lack of financial resources, unfair selection process and insufficient coordination are the most influential weaknesses in the current Danish commercial diplomacy approach. Based on these findings suggestions for optimization are provided to improve Danish commercial diplomacy to China. The long term value of minister meetings can when it is performed well increasing business potential for growth, which is necessary for the companies in small open states like Denmark.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages86