Best practices for doing business in China. The two minute version.

I often “clean” my computer on Saturday and in doing so today I found my notes from a talk I gave a long time ago in New York, focusing on what it takes to conduct business successfully in or with emerging market countries. If I recall correctly, I was on a panel with a couple of other international lawyers and we were each to lead it off with two minutes to talk about the ONE thing companies doing business internationally should know. The below is what I wrote in preparation.

Make the law your friend. If you operate both legally and with an eye towards the legal ramifications of what you do, you will have greater leverage with both the companies and the governments with which you do. You will also sleep better at night, both in the short term and the long term.

Use Good Contracts. As an example on the company side, if you get bad product and you have a great contract, you almost certainly have leverage to require your  supplier to remedy the problem. If you have no contract, you almost certainly lack the leverage to get your supplier to fix things.

Make Friends with the Government. On the government front, if you are operating legally and paying your taxes, you should consider introducing yourself to the appropriate government authorities so they know who you are before you have any problems so that if and when you have any problems, you have people who already know you who can assist.

What would you have said if given two minutes?

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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.