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Q. We are a small UK company looking to sell into the Chinese market. We have identified an opportunity with a fairly large Chinese company and are about to enter negotiations with a view to supplying them with our products. Can you provide any tips on negotiation strategies for when we meet?

A. Western companies usually take a systematic approach to negotiation, analysing aspects of the proposals and dealing with each in turn until a satisfactory conclusion is reached for both parties. To the inexperienced, negotiations in China will often appear to be unstructured, with the Chinese party shifting focus from one aspect of the proposal to another.

When entering negotiations it is essential to be prepared, flexible and patient. Prior to any meetings, you should identify who the key decision-maker is and make sure they are present in the meeting. Hire an experienced interpreter and ensure that you prepare together in advance and that the interpreter fully understands the nature of your business

In terms of the negotiation process, don’t be surprised if it takes some time, and possibly a few meetings, to make headway in the relationship. Know in advance the areas where you are unwilling to compromise and understand that negotiations may continue even after the deal is signed – this is often seen as the beginning of the process rather than the end. We would also strongly advise engaging the services of CBBC’s advisory team prior to entering discussions.

Question answered by Michael McCourt. To have your questions answered, contact michael.mccourt@cbbc.org.cn

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