Because of this blog, our China lawyers get a fairly steady stream of China law questions from readers, mostly via emails but occasionally via blog comments or phone calls as well. If we were to conduct research on all the questions we get asked and then comprehensively answer them, we would become overwhelmed. So we usually provide a quick general answer and, when it is easy to do so, a link or two to a blog post that provides some additional guidance. We figure we might as well post some of these on here as well, which we generally do on Fridays, like today.
In the last week or so the most common question we have been getting is whether we think an end to the trade war is in sight. The answer is no.
But what about all the goodwill gestures we have been seeing from both sides of late? Those are pretty meaningless because the “goodwill gestures” by the United States (delaying the tariff increase by a few weeks) are aimed at helping the U.S. economy, not at helping China. And China’s goodwill gestures of rolling back tariffs on certain agricultural goods are aimed to trying to keep in check massive inflation that has been hitting portions of China’s food chain and not exactly making its citizens happy. So no, we do not see self-serving efforts by both sides as a kumbaya moment.
And if you want further proof of that, the second most commonly asked question we’ve been getting in the last few weeks is coming from people we know who work in China or do China supply chain work and those email chains usually go somewhat like this:
FRIEND: If you run across a company looking for assistance with their supply chain in Asia or in professional services management/BD, I am open to new opportunities.
ME: I will absolutely do so. Are you hoping to stay in China?
FRIEND: No. I’m looking to get out of here as fast as I possibly can. I want to go somewhere else in Asia or back to the States. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Vietnam setting up suppliers as you might expect given what is happening in China. Does this make sense to you?
ME: Yes. There are tons of people with China expertise but far fewer with knowledge of places like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Cambodia or Malysia (or anywhere else for that matter). When the trade war started, so many companies told us that they wanted to move their manufacturing out of China but they didn’t know how to do that we brought in-house three people we’d worked with for years on Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. So yeah, there is definitely a need for these sort of people right now. Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan are where we are seeing the most action these days. I am a huge fan of Latin America and we are definitely seeing growth there, especially with clothing. That is where I’d like to see the most movement, but that region is truly terra incognita for just about everyone (except our clients from Spain). There are some incredible things happening on the tech front in places like Colombia (where I just spent ten days) and Chile and Mexico and Mexico’s jean manufacturing is soaring. And yet nobody is talking about this. Argentina is having massive economic problems, but it too can be a great place for tech.
FRIEND: Thailand is penciled in for November so if you know of anyone you believe I should speak to while I’m in Bangkok, let me know – it would be greatly appreciated. You are right, I know nothing about Latin America — never been South of Texas.
ME: Keep me posted and let me know if I can help. As far as returning to the U.S. keep me posted on that too. Where would you go:
FRIEND: I’ve always loved Seattle.
ME: Seattle is super expensive. I always say that China’s expats used to go to San Francisco but that got too expensive so then it was Seattle. But that got too expensive so then it was Nashville. But that got too expensive and so now it’s Raleigh-Durham but I am getting the sense that is getting too expensive and people are now talking about Salt Lake City and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both Salt Lake City and GR are way more international than you would ever think. Grand Rapids has Amway and its furniture and auto part companies and Salt Lake City has just a huge number of people who return from their missions with international experience. You would be shocked at how many of our clients are based in SLC.
FRIEND: Good to know. I didn’t know any of that and I guess that’s because until recently I hadn’t even though of leaving. But things have really changed here.
ME: I get it. Keep us posted and don’t hesitate to let us know if and how we can help.
What are you seeing out there?