For the uninitiated, China can be a difficult place to do business. And no one is more aware of this than the Chinese themselves.
Many American businesses, interested in exploring opportunities in China, visit the country only to find its economic structure so puzzling that they leave posthaste in frustration.
To help alleviate the problem, the Chinese government is setting up its first U.S. trade promotion office in Los Angeles. The China-U.S. Trading Corp., operated by Foreign Enterprises Services Corp. (FESCO), a government agency, opens an office Monday at the World Trade Center.
The office, with its bilingual staff from China, is designed to help acquaint American firms with the Chinese market. In addition, it will assist firms in identifying if there is a need for their products and how to market them.
FESCO helps foreign companies and banks set up operations in Peking, where almost 200 of the 1,000 foreign firms operating there are American, according to Michael M. S. Chu, president of China-U.S. Trading and deputy manager of FESCO's newly established international department.
Chu opened 40 outlets in China for Bank of America Check Corp., the San Francisco bank's travelers-check arm. The China-U.S. Trading Corp. office here should help U.S. firms save time, money and the frustration of having to go to China to explore potential business opportunities.
He pointed to the example of International Matex Tank Terminals, a New Orleans builder of liquid bulk tank terminals that has been exploring new business opportunities in China for four years.
Chu says China does indeed need such a terminal at one of its ports, but because of the structure of the Chinese bureaucracy, no one person can accept or authorize such a project. The port, for example, falls under the Ministry of Communication, while liquid cargo, which is transported in bulk tanks, is handled by Ministry of Foreign Trade. That's when FESCO stepped in to help. "We as a Chinese entity can approach the various agencies" to coordinate the development of such business projects, Chu explained. As for imports, he said, "China is looking for everything." Energy and communications-related products and technology are of particular interest, according to Chu.
He pointed out that China exports many products to the United States, but not always directly. Much of it goes through Hong Kong or Japan. "The goal is export directly to the United States," he said.