Doing Business in China
Doing business in China: Middle of the road

The World Bank just came out with its 312 page “Doing Business” report, ranking 190 economies on just about every measure possible. It is important to note that the rankings are based on the ease of doing business for domestic companies and not for companies seeking to do business in a foreign country.

I skimmed the methodologies the World Bank used to rank these 190 economies and I am impressed. But in the end, I have to admit that I tend to judge these sorts of rankings by looking at the countries I know to determine whether the rankings match what I see as the realities, and this World Bank ranking absolutely does.

China came in at 78th, which seems about right to me.

  • Singapore — 2nd
  • South Korea — 3rd
  • Hong Kong — 5th
  • Japan — 34th
  • Mongolia — 62nd
  • Vietnam — 68th

Singapore and Hong Kong make complete sense to me as those are indisputably two of the most pro-business countries in the world. South Korea is pretty good for foreign companies but I am surprised to see it ranked so high. Japan’s ranking makes sense to me, but Mongolia and Vietnam seem a bit high to me and I would actually rank them behind China. But my knowledge stems from representing foreign companies and perhaps those countries are different for domestic companies.

The United States ranked sixth and that seems about right. Spain, where my firm has an office, ranked 28th, and that seems about right also. Germany, where we do a lot of work, ranked 20th and that too seems right.

Here’s something in the rankings I know many of you will find amazing: China ranks 5th in the world in terms of enforcing contracts. Fifth out of 190 economies. I think that ranking is too high, but it does strongly reinforce a point we are always trying to make on this blog: contracts work in China, so long as they are drafted for a China court. See China Contracts: Make Them Enforceable or Don’t Bother.

What do you think of these rankings?

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Dan Harris

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

I mostly represent companies doing business in emerging market countries. It has taken me many years to build my network and it takes constant communication and travel to maintain it. My 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.

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

I am a frequent writer and public speaker on doing business in Asia and I constantly travel between the United States and Asia. I most commonly speak on China law issues and I am the lead writer of the award winning China Law Blog (www.chinalawblog.com). 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 me regarding various aspects of my international law practice.

I am licensed in Washington, Illinois, and Alaska.

In tandem with the international law team at my firm, I focus 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.