ASKED & ANSWERED: Robert B. Weiss

By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Robert B. Weiss, chair of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz, and Cohn LLP's China practice and its Commercial Law, Bankruptcy and Reorganization Department, recently spoke at a seminar in Chongqing, China, intended to inform area automotive and motorcycle businesses about "Going Global." Weiss' seminar topic was "Successfully Investing and Doing Business in the U.S.: An Achievable Goal."

In addition, Weiss spoke to senior executives at the Peking University campus in Beijing about cross-border investment practices in the United States.

Mathis: What most surprised you about the feedback you received at the seminar?

Weiss: The attendees' significant level of interest in understanding the business and legal environment relating to doing business in the U.S. In particular, the attendees were keenly interested in immigration, technology transfer and licensing and how the U.S. legal environment is different from that of China.

Mathis: Some economists predict that China will become the world's largest economy by 2030. It's obvious why American companies would want to have a presence in China. Why would Chinese companies want to have investments and do business here?

Weiss: There are a number of factors fueling the interest of Chinese companies to do business in the U.S., including (a) strong government support, (b) availability of funding to make acquisitions, (c) interest in doing business globally, and (d) acquiring technology.

Mathis: Are Chinese entrepreneurs eager to do business in the U.S.?

Weiss: Yes, but they are cautious due to unfamiliarity with U.S. business and legal environment. By expanding their businesses to the U.S., it provides access to new distribution networks and the advance technologies that we have developed here. For historic and perhaps political reasons, the Chinese have been more focused on European and other Asian markets. That focus is beginning to expand to include the U.S., as well.

Mathis: Which government policies and incentives support the Chinese companies pursuing overseas business opportunities?

Weiss: I recently was invited to speak at a seminar sponsored by the Chongqing government authorities. A high level representative of the outbound investment department of the government spoke passionately regarding the government's interest in supporting outbound investment and offering to provide technical and financial support. In fact, the Chinese government has set investment target amounts over the next few years for Chinese companies to do business overseas.

Mathis: China's growing middle class helped it become the world's largest car market in 2009, with 13.6 million vehicles sold compared to about 10.4 million in the U.S. What does that mean to U.S. and Chinese automakers?

Weiss: There will continue to be significant opportunities and some challenges for U.S. and Chinese automakers and their suppliers in serving the Chinese automotive market.

Mathis: How does the fact that China holds $900 billion in U.S. treasury securities affect trade between countries?

Weiss: The Chinese have a compelling incentive to work out trade and other economic disputes.

Published: Mon, Nov 7, 2011

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