Silk Road International has an excellent post on importing consumer products into China. The post is entitled, “Q & A about Importing into China,” and it starts out discussing why importing Western product into China is so rife with opportunity. To grossly summarize, more and more Chinese will pay for the better quality and higher prestige Western goods offer.
The post then provides a very helpful discussion on the difficulties of importing product into China and then doles out the following tips:
• Read Xiao Lu’s book [Elite China] —no matter what you’re importing. [Bottom Line: Know the market]
• Find a trust-worthy partner. Take the time (months) to do DD on this one. This one person, more than anything else you do, could sink/steal/make your business.
• Pick one region or one domestic distributor to start out with. China’s big, don’t get greedy.
• Build some serious guanxi with the port and regional officials that you’re going to be using.
• Plan on staying in the market for at leat two CNY holidays to see if you can really make it—remember, 40% of all annual luxury sales happen over this vacation.
If what I am seeing among my law firm’s clients is a trend, the trend is definitely to move product into China, particularly food products. And Silk Road International is definitely right about how it is not easy. I am working right now with a number of American food companies who are in the process of starting to export US food products into China and they are all going about it in the following, pretty much similar way:
1. They spent nearly a year figuring out where to “invade” China and who to use for that invasion.
2. They are starting out in one China region, and they hooked up with distributors in the respective regions who knows and understands their particular product and knows and understands the particular region. Most seem to start in either Guangdong Province or in the Shanghai area.
3. If their products are successful in China, they plan to produce their products in China, at least eventually.
4. They were very careful to register their trademarks in China, essentially before they went there. For more on why this is important, check out, “China Trademarks — Do You Feel Lucky? Do You?
5. They worked out and signed comprehensive distribution contracts (in Chinese) with their Chinese distributors. With help from their Chinese distributors, they have boned up on China’s food and distribution laws.
I mention food companies because I see that as even tougher than non-food consumer products.
What do you think? Of what else should those bringing products into China be aware? I would particularly love to hear from those of you who with direct experience with bringing consumer products into China.

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
Photo of Dan Harris Dan Harris

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network. 

Dan is a founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with lawyers in Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, China and Spain.

He primarily represents companies doing business in emerging market countries, having spent years building and maintaining a global, professional network.  His work has been as varied as securing the release of two improperly held helicopters in Papua New Guinea, setting up a legal framework to move slag from Canada to Poland’s interior, overseeing hundreds of litigation and arbitration matters in Korea, helping someone avoid terrorism charges in Japan, and seizing fish product in China to collect on a debt.

He was named as one of only three Washington State Amazing Lawyers in International Law, is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (its highest rating), is rated 10.0 by AVVO.com (also its highest rating), and is a recognized SuperLawyer.

Dan is a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and constantly travels between the United States and Asia. He most commonly speaks on China law issues and is the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog. Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, The National Law Journal, The Washington Post, The ABA Journal, The Economist, Newsweek, NPR, The New York Times and Inside Counsel have all interviewed Dan regarding various aspects of his international law practice.

Dan is licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at his firm, Dan focuses on setting up/registering companies overseas (via WFOEs, Rep Offices or Joint Ventures), drafting international contracts (NDAs, OEM Agreements, licensing, distribution, etc.), protecting IP (trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents), and overseeing M&A transactions.