Archive for September, 2012

Eight days, three office visits and two tax conferences.  I met tax professionals from all over Asia and the Pacific Rim, and delivered a National Geographic Map of the World — that world that got quite a bit smaller over those 8 days in Asia– to colleagues who are now a lot more than an e-mail address or a name in a directory.

Gift giving is an essential part of business in China. You should obey the rules to make certain you don’t offend. The value of a gift can be tricky business — a lavish present could cause embarrassment.  Also, don’t give sets of four, because the number is considered unlucky.  Senior people must always be given gifts that are perceived to have a higher value than those given to junior staffers.  Offer gifts, one at a time, to recipients with both hands, but don’t expect them to be opened in your presence.

Avoid overtly extravagant gifts that could embarrass or negatively affect your business dealings.  Specifically, skip gifts known to be associated with death, like clocks, knives and scissors.  At first blush, a fine writing instrument may seem an ideal present, but if it contains red ink, you’ll offend the person you’re trying to win over.  Presents must be gift-wrapped when presented to business associates in China, and the color of the wrap is another deal breaker.  Red is a lucky color.  Avoid black, white and blue paper, as these colors are also associated with death.

Before the HLB International Tax Committee departed on our recently completed China Tour, we had lengthy discussions as to what gift to present at these meetings — something big enough to be meaningful, but not overly large or ostentatious.  I have to say, we made a very good choice and the pictures below turned out quite nicely. . .



1.         HLB Candor, Taiwan.  Presented to Rex Lai at the 2012 HLB Asia/Pacific Rim Regional Conference










2.         HLB Hodgson Impey Cheng.  Presented to Raymond Cheng and Jonathan Lai in Hong Kong.










3.         HLB World Sound (Wu Zhou Song De.  Presented to Jessie Jessica and Linda in Shenzhen, China










4.         HLB Baicheng Tax Consulting Service.  Presented to Ziyong Zhu and Ada Gau in Jinan, China.

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I know, I know… now that song will be stuck in your head all day.  It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears, it’s a world of hopes, and a world of fears.  You’re welcome.  From 35,000 feet and 11 hours into a 16-hour flight, the world doesn’t seem all that small.  Granted, when my feet touch ground, I will literally be half-way around the world.  First stop:  Hong Kong.

International business is so frequently done electronically — e-mail, voice mail, video conference, fax (yes, sometimes we still must fax).  Knowing, understanding your client, your colleague and even your competitor, requires face-to-face meetings.  International Business occasionally means International Travel.  Make sure your passport hasn’t expired and you have the right visa to enter the country, if required.  But beyond getting to the airport, preparing for international business means understanding where you are and where you are going on many different levels:  business structuring, laws, foreign currency, cash management, banking regulations, profit repatriation, taxation, transfer pricing, transfer of assets, business customs and etiquette — even geography and so many other topics and issues. 

Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all. 

In this blog, my colleagues at WithumSmith+Brown and HLB International and I will provide our perspectives gleaned from working internationally — either from one side of a computer screen or video conference, to one side of a conference table on the other side of the world.  Over the next 10 days, I will meet and discuss international business opportunities with fellow HLB tax practitioners, clients and prospective clients in Hong Kong, Taipei, Shenzhen, Jinan and Beijing.  This blog will cover current and former international business trips and presentations, in addition to discussing current international business, accounting and tax issues — with links to more in-depth analyses and treatises.  Once in a while, we’ll challenge your geography skills and will even acquaint you with different business customs and etiquette. 

There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware:  it’s a small world after all.  When we understand our world, when we get to know personally and professionally our international colleagues, contacts and clients, the world truly does become smaller.

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