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INTERNATIONAL MARKETING Case Study Coping With Corruption in Trading With China Corruption is on the rise...

INTERNATIONAL MARKETING Case Study

Coping With Corruption in Trading With China

Corruption is on the rise in China, where the country’s press frequently has detailed cases of, and campaigns to crack down on, corruption. Indeed, China has been rated by Transparency International as #41 of the 52 countries the German organization rates on its “Corruption Perception Index.” Denmark is rated the least corrupt at #1 and Nigeria as the most corrupt at #52. Corruption’s long arm now is reaching out to touch China’s foreign business community. Traders, trade consultants and analysts have said that foreign firms are vulnerable to a variety of corrupt practices. While some of these firms said they had no experience with corruption in the PRC (People’s Republic of China), the majority said they increasingly were asked to make payments to improve business; engage in black-market trade of import and export licenses; bribe officials to push goods through customs or the Commodity Inspection Bureau (CIB); or engage in collusion to beat the system. The Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption reports that outright bribes as well as gift or payment to establish guanxi or “connection,” average in the PRC 3 to 5 percent of operating costs, or $3 billion to $5 billion of the $100 billion of foreign investment that have been made there. The most common corrupt practices confronting foreign companies in China are examined below. Paying to Improve Business. Foreign traders make several types of payments to facilitate sales in China. The most common method? Trips abroad. Chinese officials, who rarely have a chance to visit overseas, often prefer foreign travel to cash or gifts. (This was especially true when few PRC officials had been abroad.) As a result, traders report that dangling foreign trips in front of their PRC clients has become a regular part of negotiating large trade deals that involve products with a technological component. “Foreign travel is always the first inducement we offer,” said an executive involved in machinery trade. In most cases, traders built these costs into the product’s sale price. Some trips are “reasonable and bona fide expenditures directly related to the promotion, demonstration or explanation of products and services or the execution of a contract with a foreign government agency.” But other trips, when officials on foreign junkets are offered large per diems and are not invited specifically to gain technical knowledge, may be another matter. Foreign travel is not always an inducement – it also can be extorted: In one case, a PRC bank branch refused to issue a letter of credit (L/C) for a machinery import deal. The Chinese customer suggested that the foreign trader invite the bank official on an oversea inspection tour. Once the invitation was extended, the bank issued the L/C. Angling for Cash. Multinational companies (MNCs) also are asked sometimes to sponsor oversea education for children of trading officials. One person told a Chinese source that an MNC paid for his/her United States (U.S.) $1,500-a-month apartment, as well as a car, university education and expenses. Firms find direct requests for cash payments – undeniably illegal – the most difficult. One well-placed source said that a major traders, eager for buyers in the face of an international market glut, has fallen into regularly paying large kickbacks into the Honduran, U.S. and Swiss accounts of officials at a PRC foreign trade corporation (FTC). 2 | P a g e M K T G 3 4 1 0 / J u n e 2 0 2 0 Refusing to make payment may not only hurt sales, it also can be terrifying. A U.S. firm was one of several bidders for a large sales; a Chinese official demanded the MNC pay a 3 percent kickback. When the company representative refused, the official threatened: “You had better not say anything about this. You still have to do business in China and stay in hotels here.” Not surprisingly, the U.S. company lost the deal. Traders of certain commodities may be tempted to purchase on the black market those import and export licenses that are difficult to obtain legally. A fairly disorganized underground market, for instance, exists for licenses to export China-made garments to the U.S. Some branches of the CIB also have posed problems for some traders. Abuses have emerged in the CIB since it started inspecting imports in 1987. A Japanese company, for instance, informed CIB officials of its intention to bring heavy industrial item into China – items that had met Japanese and U.S. standards. The officials responded that they planned to dismantle the products on arrival for inspection purposes. The problem was resolved only after the firm invited the officials to visit Japan. Some traders get around such problems by purchasing inspection certificates on the black market. According to the press accounts, these forms, complete with signatures and seals, can be bought for roughly U.S. $200. Some claim that, for the appropriate compensation, customs officials in a southern province are most willing to reduce the dutiable value of imports as much as 50 percent. Because the savings can far exceed transport costs, some imports that would logically enter China through a northern port are redirected through the southern province.

Questions: 1. What is the most common method for improving or facilitating sales in China? Why?

2. What are the consequences of refusing to make cash payment to the China officials?

Homework Answers

Answer #1

1. The most common method of improving or facilitating sales in china is involving in corrupt practices making officials happy by offering them a foreign trip by means of some negotiation deals and this method is more liked as Chinese officials prefer engaging in foreign trips then taking bribes (cash) or gifts.

2. If they do not make the payment they are threatened in a harsh manner that they pose life threat if they say anything about it (corrupt practice) and the business can be lost ultimately by making them unfit to do business by any officials means by Chinese officials.

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