It seems that every day you read headlines about China: a manufacturing firm's CEO blames China for eating up its market share; employees lament losing jobs to China's cheap labor market; or an economist rails about the valuation of the yuan. It is true that in many instances, China is getting the better of American business, but, as Ted C. Fishman points out in the March 2005 cover story of Inc. magazine, China also can create extraordinary opportunities.
This list of Internet resources on doing business with China can help you unearth those opportunities and discover the best strategies and must-know information for doing business in China.
News and Analysis
China Business Daily
The English version of this Chinese business newspaper is a must-read for owners looking for timely information on business in China, including news on investments, industry performance, laws and regulations, and more.
For further analysis on the issues, subscribe to Orbis Publications' China Watch, which provides political, economic, and business information to executives interested in conducting business with China. Its Executive Service includes 52 weekly e-mail briefings along with six or more in-depth analyses on issues related to economic policy, financial markets, foreign investment, WTO, industries, politics and more. Sign up for a one-month trial for free to review the product.
Subscriptions: China Watch Executive Service -- $595/year; China Watch Forecasting Service -- $495 (entitles you to a 150-page annual country forecast as well as quarterly updates).
Industry, Trade, and the Economy: Data and Analysis
If you like to crunch numbers, this is the site for you. It slices and dices the effect of trade with foreign countries from a U.S. perspective, from analyses on exports, jobs and foreign investment by state to highlights of U.S. foreign trade stats and information on small and medium size enterprises exporting to China. One very useful tool is the TradeStats Express Home, which provides visual representations of the latest national trade data and state export data, including exports from the U.S., or even from individual states, to China.
This websote offers broad information on doing business with China, from U.S. Export Regulations to China Law and Regulations, to a slew of links to relevant resources on getting started in China . Of particular note are links to SchedNet, where U.S. exporters can find up-to-date information on freight schedules and rates by air and sea; an article that outlines what it will take to get started in China; and a number of associations that can provide help, including American Chambers of Commerce located in Beijing and Shanghai. Lastly, its Best Prospects information lets you in on what industries are ripe for doing business in China. Export.gov has timely information on a number of markets, from Aerospace to Telecommunications, with each report providing an overview of the sector and detailing the "Best Prospects." All reports listed have been filed since 2003, and can be downloaded as PDFs for free.
U.S. Commercial Service China
The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy Beijing emphasizes export help for small and medium size companies. The organization has six offices in China -- Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong - which provide solutions for businesses entering or expanding in China. The website offers a comprehensive look at some of the details in doing business there. Links of note: China Information by Industry; Business Services Providers in China; and a free market research library, searcable by industry, region and country.
US-China Business Council
Founded in 1973, the US-China Business Council is a private, non-profit, non-partisan, membership association for U.S. companies doing business in China. Access to much of the website is for members-only, though you can find a number of up-to-date market reports and general economic information on China for free.
But where this site shines is in its paid features. For an annual fee, anywhere from $2,500 to $17,500, depending on company revenue, member firms can gain access to extensive information and services. One paid feature, a business advisory service, includes advisors state-side as well as in Beijing and Shanghai. Advisors can answer questions about conducting business in China, from the translation of Chinese regulations to helping member companies find out where they rank in terms of trade within the country. Members also gain access to a number of timely publications including China Business Review magazine, and China Market Intelligence, a weekly e-mail newsletter. Monthly luncheons held in Washington, D.C., for members include guest speakers sharing information on topics, such as currency valuation and securing visas for Chinese colleagues. Larger functions include annual forecast meetings, which offer an in-depth look at what's coming up in the year ahead in terms of Chinese politics, economics, and trade. The council is also an advocate for businesses in China, supporting business requests and raising concerns in Washington, D.C., and Beijing for member companies.
Deloitte and Touche LLP's China Business Services Group Resource Page
Deloitte's collection of articles and tools offer a nice bird's eye view of what it takes to do business with China. Under its "Guide to Doing Business in China and Hong Kong," you'll find profiles of nine major cities, as well as information on doing business in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Diving into Details
Weighing the Risks of Going Abroad
Set up by the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and insurance company American International Group (AIG), AssessYourInternationalRisk.org highlights international exposures to risk your business may already have and offers solutions for managing them.
China Business and Tax Guide
This 140-page guide (downloadable as a PDF) from Deloitte and Touche LLP provides business investors with information on China's business environment and tax system. Topics discussed include business regulations and requirements, taxation of enterprises, investment incentives and more.
Intellectual Property Toolkit
The American Embassy in China website provides a great primer on protecting your business's intellectual property rights when doing business with China. The website's most salient piece of advice: Be sure to register patents and trademarks with appropriate Chinese agencies and authorities to be sure you have proper recourse if something does go awry. The website also provides myriad links to agencies that can help if you do run into any type IP infringement and provides actionable advice on how to address the issue.
The American Embassy in China website also provides general information on securing nonimmigrant visas for Chinese colleagues, including timely notices affecting the issuance of new visas, general information on applying, and application forms.
Dispute Avoidance and Dispute Resolution
This free PDF provides guidelines from the Department of Commerce on handling business disputes. In a nutshell, good planning is key to staying out of trouble, but if you find yourself embroiled in a dispute, the Department offers advice on negotiations and mediations, as well as details the various methods of Chinese arbitration and international litigation.
Trade Compliance Center
At the Trade Compliance Center, businesses can report trade barriers they've encountered, peruse a list barriers other U.S. businesses have experienced, read trade agreements forged with many different countries, including the People's Republic of China, and sign up for an Export Alert! service via the National Center for Standards and Certification Information (NIST), which offers U.S. businesses the opportunity to comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that could affect their businesses.
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tariff Database
Once you've registered for free, you gain access to information on tariff schedules, concessions, and prohibitions by APEC member economies, including the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong.
Executiveplanet.com is dedicated entirely to providing tips and etiquette advice for doing business worldwide. The entries on business etiquette in China are written by Chinese consultants who have firsthand knowledge of what will make you friends, and what won't. One entry in the Public Behavior section, for instance, suggests refraining from picking food from your teeth in public, as it's considered vulgar. And if you're making a proposal, be sure all printed presentation materials are only in black and white -- many colors have special meanings in China, many of them negative.