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Doing Business With China

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Lots of business people still haven't woken up to China. They don't even consider doing business there and give excuses like - there's the language barrier, the strange customs or the very different rules and regulations concerning business in the middle Kingdom.

Besides, lots of companies have tried and failed to do business in China or with Chinese companies - the risk is just too great. There might be billions of potential customers but the vast majority of Chinese consumers are still poor.

While all of that is true, the rise of China as a market and as an industrial producer is just too important an event for anyone to ignore it. There are very, very few areas of business that the rising economic power of China will not have an impact on in the near future and the message from business leaders is very clear - adapt now and take advantage of the emergence of the Chinese economy, or risk paying a heavy price later.

But how can you do business with China? Firstly be aware of the major opportunities and the key, as ever, is thorough research. There are a growing number of companies who have experience of helping companies to exploit the opportunities to be found when dealing with China. They offer the vital experience necessary to start doing business in China from conducting market research, to giving in depth advice about business customs and practices. Should your business succeed in China, it may well be necessary to send staff to relocate there, after all there is nothing like having someone on the ground to manage your business and spot opportunities but that can be an expensive proposition. Using western companies with local expertise can be a way of putting your toe in the water.

Even with the help of expert consultants, doing business with China is not something to be undertaken lightly. It is such a vast country with so many different regions and dialects that understanding how business is carried out in China would be the work of many lifetimes. The questions of human rights, or how the ecological impact of your business in China might be perceived by western consumers need to be taken into consideration. There are also differing interpretations between China and the West of how contracts are enforced or even the ownership of private property. Taking these things into account, many businesses feel that the advantages of doing business with China far outweigh the negatives.

A complex but potentially rewarding aspect of the growth of China is the potential market provided by 1.2 billion consumers. Western brands can be very popular in China but learning how to sell your product in China can be a long-term proposition; This may explain why the greatest part of the business transactions with China take place in manufacturing. China has become the world's pre-eminent producer of manufactured goods. The products that they are making are mostly produced for western companies since there are hardly any multi-national Chinese companies (yet). This means that lots of American and European companies are outsourcing their production in China to take advantage of the lower labour costs and abundant raw materials. Doing business in China is one of the most exciting prospects in the near future but it is something to be approached with caution.

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