China to Become the World’s Largest Importer by 2014

According to The Economist, China will surpass the United States to become the largest importer in the world by 2014. There are plenty of opportunities for companies to take advantage of China’s growing middle class. Here are a few useful tips if you are interested in exporting to China:

  • Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or Export Assistance Center and familiarize yourselves with legal and regulatory issues in China. These facilities also have a lot of resources and services that can help you develop China market entry strategies and find the right business partners.
  • Consider rebranding or repositioning your products in China. Remember, what works in your native country may not work in China. You really need to learn about Chinese culture, understand Chinese consumers, and adapt your products and services to the China market.
  • For smaller brands, e-commerce is a great way to break into the China market without significant upfront cost. China’s ecommerce has been growing at 60 percent each year in recent years. More than 100 million Chinese shopped online last year. And China’s Internet users are expected to reach 750 million in 2015.
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Lessons from eBay-Alibaba Battle

This weekend, eBay’s CEO John Donahoe shared the stage with Alibaba’s maverick founder Jack Ma at his annual Alifest conference in Hangzhou, China. Gady Epstein, Forbes Beijing bureau chief, has an intriguing blog about how Mr. Donahoe wished a happy birthday to Jack Ma who not only defeated eBay in China, but also “encroaches on eBay’s home turf.” Since Epstein referenced my recounting of the eBay-Alibaba battle, I thought it might serve readers well to provide an excerpt here from my book The Chinese Dream:

In 2004, eBay had just entered China and was planning to dominate the China market. Alibaba was a local Chinese company that helped small- and medium-sized enterprises conducting business online. Most people in the West had barely heard about it. Continue reading