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Doing business with Chinese vendors? Seeking your feedback!

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Overdrive

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Hi Fastlaners!

I originally posted this in another thread, but it was considered off-topic (newbie mistake). So here's my own thread:

I'm looking for potential pain points and unmet needs, especially of people who purchase from Chinese vendors or otherwise have business dealings with Chinese companies. I'm specifically looking for such unmet needs from a legal angle due to my professional background (I'm an in-house attorney at a multinational in Taiwan). I'm also bilingual (English/Mandarin) and was wondering if I could use my skill set to create a service or product that would be of value to people or companies in the West doing business with Chinese companies.

My questions to Fastlaners who have experience with business dealings and negotiations with Chinese vendors would be:

1. What are your specific pain points or needs, if any, when it comes to communicating in English with your Chinese vendors (is the language barrier a real problem)? Would it make sense, in your view, to use standard letters or documents (such as POs, RFQ, etc) in English attached with a reliable Chinese translation just as a back-up to avoid miscommunications? Or is this never an issue?

2. Do you ever actually enter contracts with the Chinese side and if so, what kind of contracts would that be in your biz? Would these contracts be signed in English or Chinese or both? What are common problems you encounter with contracts? (A friend of mine who used to be a garment manufacturer in China before he retired told me he never used any contracts with his mostly US buyers at all, so I'm wondering if this is true in general or just in his particular line of business).

3. Would you see any value in having (customizable) drafts of contracts, baseline agreements, Terms & Conditions, clauses, letters or forms (or any other legal documents) available to you in English, attached with a reliable Chinese translation that has been reviewed and approved by a local Chinese lawyer as conforming with local laws?

These are my basic questions so far as I'm still in the "chasing needs" phase and wondering if I should take this further or not.

In case there exists such a need, I'd be willing to invest some time in creating some of those generic documents mentioned above, based on your input, and also provide Chinese translations and share them here at no cost.

It would be great to get some feedback directly from the frontlines. Thanks a lot in advance!
 

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SRathwell

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While I am fairly new to dealing with Chinese suppliers I have not had a single issue with using English for all of my documents.

Take a read thought this thread: GOLD! - Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

and even better buy Walter's book (can find a link in his sig, in that thread)

That thread and the book have been absolutely invaluable in giving me the confidence to order directly from Chinese suppliers. There is so much GOLD in that thread that I suggest you take the time and read it.. all of it. It will not be time wasted I promise!
 
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Overdrive

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While I am fairly new to dealing with Chinese suppliers I have not had a single issue with using English for all of my documents.

Take a read thought this thread: GOLD! - Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

and even better buy Walter's book (can find a link in his sig, in that thread)

That thread and the book have been absolutely invaluable in giving me the confidence to order directly from Chinese suppliers. There is so much GOLD in that thread that I suggest you take the time and read it.. all of it. It will not be time wasted I promise!

Hey, thanks a lot for your reply, although it wasn't really the reply I was hoping for, since I'm looking for needs and you seem extremely satisfied, haha. Anyway, I'll keep looking for that angle.
 

SRathwell

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Ya I skimmed the post and should have read with a little more care. I now see what you are looking for. I am a pretty small fish is the sea of importing. If you were to talk to Walter or maybe some of the Fastlaners in the thread above, maybe they can give you more feedback.

Sorry for taking you the wrong direction, lesson learned....read in full before responding.....
 
Last edited:

Overdrive

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Ya I skimmed the post and should have read with a little more care. I now see what you are looking for. I am a pretty small fish is the sea of importing. If you were to talk to Walter or maybe some of the Fastlaners in the thread above, maybe they can give you more feedback.

Sorry for taking you the wrong direction, lesson learned....read in full before responding.....
Oh, don't worry about that. It was helpful to me anyway. And thanks for your tip. I've contacted Walter.
 

Walter Hay

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Oh, don't worry about that. It was helpful to me anyway. And thanks for your tip. I've contacted Walter.
Thanks for your PM. As you suggested I might, I think a reply here will help more members so I will do that.

The language barrier is often presented by sourcing agents as a major reason why new importers should use their services. In reality it is not an insurmountable obstacle.

Businesses in China that are involved in supplying products to Westerners almost all have quite capable English speaking staff at the front line. Their English is not always great, but is usually adequate.

It is important to use straight forward language, and as I point out in my book, avoid using words that can have double meanings such as "buff" when you should say "polish."

Of much greater importance is to understand Chinese social and business culture.

Your friend is right when he says that contracts are not commonly used. This is another issue that would-be sourcing agents push, offering official, "binding" purchase orders and sales contracts.

With the great difficulty involved in attempting to enforce contracts in China, it is far better to develop a good relationship. Insistence on contracts can be seen as offensive, and not only serves no good purpose, but can have a negative effect on the business relationship.

@Overdrive, I'm sorry to dampen your enthusiasm, but although I frequently get questions and reports from importers on progress and difficulties encountered, the language problem seems to be under control, and the widely used Proforma Invoice functions nicely as both an official order form and a sales contract when confirmed by both parties.

Walter
 

Overdrive

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Hi Walter, thanks so much for your very insightful reply. Good to know that the language barrier is not an issue anymore for importers. I'll probably look for another target market then.
 

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