October 22, 2015
Would you consider doing business in China? Perhaps you already are here (in China). Challenges span language, laws, customs, and possibly corruption. The upside is entry into the world’s largest market with the fastest growing middle class in history.
Of the many pieces of advice you may receive, not going it alone is one of the wisest. In the past few weeks, Ellen and I have met with representatives of the Canada China Business Council (CCBC) in Beijing and Shanghai. They are a wonderful membership-based resource for those active in, or considering, China. In Beijing, we met Wei Zhang, deputy general manager, and Alain Joyal, membership director. Over coffee, Alain shared a glimpse of the inevitable ups and downs of living and working in China.
In Shanghai, Joyce Alonso Gorospe, SME Support Officer, and Travis Joern, CCBC Managing Director, gave their insights and experiences. Travis commented on how much more we know about the United States than China. As an example, most Canadians can name President Barak Obama, but how about President Xi Jinping? Or name leading Republican and Democrat candidates for U.S. President, versus how many can name up and comers in the Chinese system? Some real homework is required but the task is not insurmountable, as can be witnessed by Canadian companies doing well in China.
Victor Qi and Marc Mikhael of the Canadian Trade Service in Beijing also met with us. Victor sees the demand for specialized services (legal, environmental,…) rising along with products. Many Canadian provinces, including Alberta, have their own trade representatives in China. Excellent resources all.
While local contacts, especially government contacts, may not mean much in Canada, they are enormously helpful for building credibility in China. Good luck!