Doing business in China

Economies of China and the United States are mirror images affording continued opportunity for growth even in a downturning world financial order. But only if potential conflict and misunderstanding can be overcome through stronger sociocultural ties.

That appeared to be the consensus among an agenda of economic scholars, China experts and business people at the annual China Business Outlook conference, sponsored by the World Trade Center San Diego and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

“Even as we look at the U.S. and China economies as mirror images, we recognize our fates are deeply intertwined,” said David Naughton, conference keynote speaker. A China expert and UCSD international relations professor, Naughton spoke about the Chinese economic place in a time of global economic turmoil.

A marketing panel discussion featured a trade overview titled “Boom or Bust” presented by Andrew Pan, chief representative and managing director of the North American Representative Office of Shenzhen, or NAROS.

China’s one-child policy is setting a new economic dynamic presenting opportunities for U.S. companies in areas such as housing construction of elder care facilities, Pan said.

Other immediate opportunities for U.S. companies included luxury and fashion goods — especially women’s shoes and clothing — hotel and hospital construction and operation, e-commerce, media and advertising, and professional services, Pan added.

Also on the panel, Neall Digert, international vice-president of Solatube, a San Diego area-based company specializing in green energy systems, discussed his company’s joint venture in China. Fang Fang, an attorney with Baker & McKenzie’s China Practice Group, discussed intellectual property issues in U.S.-China trade.

An example of joint U.S.-China economic opportunity, the state-owned China Energy Conservation Investment Corporation (CECIC) recently made a significant investment in Solatube, according to Digert, adding, “energy conservation has created new foreign business opportunities in China.”

Final Speaker Ted Haberfield, executive vice-president of HC International, a California-based investor relations firm working exclusively with China-based, U.S. listed companies, said these companies typically were five or six times better capitalized than U.S.-based counterparts. That makes the Chinese companies much better investment opportunities currently, he said.

The conference also featured a more than a dozen Chinese or American companies publicizing goods and services. A hosted reception and networking opportunity following the afternoon-long panel sessions allowing many of the business leaders to practice what they previously preached.