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Executives discuss the risks and rewards of doing business in China

The Orange County Business Council hosts a panel talk on businesses opportunities overseas

by Gabriel CortésPublished: September 26, 2012 09:05 AM

The Orange County Business Council hosted a breakfast panel discussion titled “Doing Business in China” at the Wyndham Hotel in Costa Mesa on Tuesday, inviting local business leaders to learn about the opportunities and incentives in overseas partnerships and business opportunities.

The panel featured four businessmen with extensive experience in doing business in China, comprising executives from J.P. Morgan Chase, UPS and international law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP.  The panel addressed a variety of topics related to Chinese business connections, ranging from the difficulties of navigating the country’s complex bureaucracy to the rewards that local businesses can reap from investing in China’s ever-growing economy.

In their keynote presentations, Mark Sobolewski, vice president of corporate strategy for UPS, and Morgan McGrath, head of international commercial banking for J.P. Morgan Chase, highlighted China’s continued growth as an example of just one opportunity that American businesses can capitalize on. In his talk, McGrath emphasized that, despite its slowing growth rate, the Chinese economy still grew 7.3 percent in 2012. He also asserted that analysts predict that China’s economy will grow 8.3 percent in 2013, presenting a stark comparison to the modest 2 percent increase that the United States expects to see in its economy next year.

During the panel discussion, Sobolewksi and McGrath were joined by Kok-Chi Tsim, head of J.P. Morgan Chase’s China advisory service, and Juan Basombrio, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP. While the panelists all acknowledged that China’s unique economic model can present many challenges for American companies seeking to do business there, they all agreed that by investing the necessary time, effort and resources, companies can flourish in that emerging market.

“The most important thing to emphasize for smaller and medium-sized companies is that doing business in China very doable,” McGrath said. “Companies need to work with key partners who have on-the-ground experience and years of expertise working in China to achieve success.”

The O.C. Business Council says that Orange County is particularly well-suited for international business, due to its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and local connections to trucking and rail lines. According to the Institute for Economic and Environmental Studies at Cal State Fullerton, China is Orange County’s third-largest trading partner.  The institute predicts that by the end of next year, Orange County’s exports to China will exceed $2.5 billion, constituting 9.5 percent of the county’s total exports.

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