China, which has a history of state-run enterprise and exorbitant tariffs, will soon be bursting with business opportunities as the world’s largest potential consumer market awaits its accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to Frank Yuan, founder and CEO of Cyber Merchants Exchange (C-ME.com). “There are tremendous opportunities there, especially with the WTO and trade barriers being reduced,” said Yuan, the keynote speaker at Fordham’s third annual China Business Seminar. “China is the largest producing country in the world.” Yuan was among more than a dozen trade officials and corporate executives who offered valuable insight into the shifting dynamics of China’s business world during the Oct. 24 seminar.
More than 100 students, professors and local business professionals attended the conference which was sponsored by the Graduate School of Business Administration. The seminar “provides an overview of the current business climate in China, investment opportunities, regulatory issues and new ways of doing business in China,” said Ernest Scalberg, dean of the graduate school. “The focus this year is on building China’s business using new approaches.” China’s evolving economy is now the second largest in the world, after the United States.
In the 1980s, 95 percent of business enterprises there were government-owned. Today, less than a third of China’s businesses are state- owned, according to Fan Zhang, an economics professor from Peking University in Beijing who discussed China’s rapidly changing business environment. China’s economy surged in the early 1990s, and inflation soared. A few years ago, the Asian financial markets collapsed, slowing China’s booming economic growth. Now, with the U.S.-China Bilateral Agreement and the establishment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations, new doors are opening for China, he said. Chris Padilla, the director of International Trade Relations for Eastman Kodak, and other panelists offered advice about building a business in China’s new economy. Foreign companies, such as Kodak, have created 20 million jobs and account for 10 percent of the urban employment. The U.S. Commerce Department has established a five-point plan, including skills training workshops for Chinese officials and assistance with legal and regulatory reforms, to ensure that China meets WTO compliance standards, said Cheryl McQueen, acting director of the Office of Chinese Economic Area at the U.S. Department of Commerce. “China has had to reduce thousands of (trade) tariffs … We’re off to a good start,” said McQueen, a conference panelist. “But everyone acknowledges that more has to be done. ” Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration was established in 1969 and has been recognized nationally for the quality, innovation and comprehensiveness of its programs, which prepare graduates for global competition. The school’s part-time MBA program is ranked 14th by U.S. News & World Report.