On Jan. 17, virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world, the architect of China's economic reforms died in Beijing. For the past 15 years, former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang had been under house arrest after being ousted as the country's Communist party leader. His crimes? Advocating the market reforms that eventually transformed a backward Chinese economy into the powerhouse it is today, and opposing the military suppression of the 1989 pro-democracy student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square.
We can only wonder what he must have been hinking in his later years as he watched China's transformation into a major global economic force with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $6.449 trillion and a reputation as the world's workshop. Did he feel vindicated? Was he concerned? Whatever the case, soaring demand for Chinese-made goods has enormous implications for U.S. businesses. Right now Canada remains the number one source of U.S. imports, but China is quickly closing the gap.
Despite America's enormous appetite for inexpensive Chinese goods, U.S. companies still find it difficult to negotiate the process of exporting from China. Whether it's cultural differences or a gross misreading of local economics and business customs, they've found countless ways to get into trouble. To help companies steer clear of some of the more common logistics-related problems, we offer the following tips: