Enterprises in Sichuan need to learn more about international standards so their products can meet world-class requirements, a seminar held in Xiamen on introducing international strategic investment to Sichuan Province was told yesterday.
    The comment was made by Luo Xiufang, deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Commerce, as government officials and entrepreneurs from the province listened to four speakers, including Francis Siu, senior partner of KPMG Huazhen in Beijing.
     Topics covered in the seminar, part of the CIFIT (China International Fair for Trade and Investment), included the motivations for introducing international strategic investment, international investment practices, how to introduce investment, and taxation problems relating to domestic companies raising funds from overseas.
    The event was co-hosted by KPMG Huazhen, the China member firm of KPMG International and the Department of Commerce of Sichuan Province.
    Sichuan is an important industrial power in Southwest China.
    The province is home to several famous brands, including Changhong, one of the largest TV makers in China and Wuliangye Group Co Ltd, the wine producer.
    Sichuan's giant companies are not so active in introducing strategic investment, compared with their counterparts in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
    However, some firms in the province have made initial steps towards introducing strategic investment in recent years.
    For example, Sichuan's Great Wall Software Technology Co Ltd received a US$3.5 million investment from, one of China's biggest web portals, Qualcomm, US designer and supplier of CDMA chipsets and system software, and IDGVC, a venture funds established by the International Data Group.

   Founded in 2001, Great Wall Software was one of the first high-tech companies in China to focus on value-added mobile data services.
    The company has a wealth of experience in embedded software, particularly in BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) business.
    Now expanding at an even faster pace thanks to its co-operation with strategic investors, and having established itself as a leader in wireless services, Great Wall Software is a model for other enterprises in the province.
    Siu remarked that absorbing strategic funds may help solve many problems facing enterprises, such as financial shortages. He added that the entry of strategic funds also means the introduction of advanced management concepts and advanced technologies.
    "With all these benefits, enterprises will become more able to sell their products in the global market and so take up a bigger market share," Siu said.
Cyber Expo set for launch
    A cyber expo website which features the CIFIT (China International Fair for Investment and Trade) booths will be officially launched today.
    Users can be just a few mouse clicks away from all the action thanks to a technology called Web3D, which integrates virtual reality, computer graphics, and WWW (World Wide Web) technologies.
    The site is intended to provide an overall image of the Fair.

CIFIT creates air ticket price hike
    Air tickets to Xiamen have become hot property thanks to the CIFIT, bucking the usual trend that sees carriers reduce fares to boost demand during the September off-season.
    Passengers flying from Xiamen to Beijing on the September 7 enjoyed a 60 per cent discount, and there will be a 25 per cent discount on September 11. But tickets taking passengers to the Fujian city are expensive buys, with increased demand forcing travellers from Xiamen to Wuhan to pay full price rather than the former 30 per cent discount.

Round-table conference opens
    The 4th Round-table Conference for International Chamber Partnership was held yesterday in Xiamen. The theme of the conference is "How the chamber can play its role in facilitating economic development in the China-ASEAN region."
    The cargo trade protocol, which is part of the Sino-ASEAN Frame Protocol on Overall Economic Co-operation, was officially implemented last July.
    Meanwhile, the trade volume between Xiamen and the ASEAN increased to more than US$2.4 billion last year from US$863 million in 2000, a rise of 30 per cent annually.
    Wang Jinzhen, assistant director of CCPIT (China Council for Promotion of International Trade), said that, due to economic globalization, the government's function is shrinking while the chamber's role becomes more and more important. Chambers not only lecture enterprises on training, but also provide communication channels for bilateral investment affairs.

     As the world's major emerging economy, China has the potential to grow at a faster rate than any other marketplace in history. However, to take advantage of this unique opportunity, it is important to understand the experiences and mistakes of others.
     Whether preparing your company for domestic or global business, the knowledge and expertise of experienced consultants can help you avoid costly and time consuming learning curves.
    What can a good consultant do?
     A good consultant can work ON your business and/or project, while you work IN your business. Consultants are generally regarded as experts in a particular field. Quality consultants have worked or studied for many years in a particular field. They have practical and/or theoretical experience. In either case, a quality consultant will be able to provide you with the expert advice you require and know how to procure additional information when needed. Typically, consulting firms have individual consultants with a wide range of complimentary skills, offering a well rounded solution to the client's needs.
     A consultant can also offer a particular set of skills or perspective which a business may not ordinarily have among its regular staff. For example, every company has a core competence. If your company's core competence is in manufacturing, you may not have employees with expertise in global marketing, or the necessary skills to effectively communicate with businesses in other countries. If, for example, you want to build a world class collision repair facility serving your city, you may not be aware of the latest technology or how to market to car owners or insurance companies. Additionally, a consultant with knowledge of mature marketplaces can provide valuable expertise to help avoid both the expected and unexpected'growth' issues.
     No one has all the answers, but a good consultant typically knows where to find answers for a wide variety of questions and situations. Consultants have the ability evaluate a business from a diverse perspective, view and anticipate potential problems while providing advice on how to correct or avoid them. Often, this is referred to as "trouble shooting" and/or "preventative measures." The management and employees of a business are usually the closest to a business and do not recognize some important alternatives because they are too closely focused on their immediate duties.
     While there is a cost to hiring a consultant, this fee-based service should be viewed as an investment. The cost should be amortized and valued as improved knowledge, processes, products, service skills and training. When viewed this way, the costs of retaining a consultant are minimal, especially when compared to the possibility of lost efficiency and revenue.
     When should you consider hiring a consultant?
     Consultants can help your business at any point in time. For example, you may hire a consultant to evaluate the efficiency of your business and recommend cost saving strategies. Or, you may be contemplating expansion or development of new services and/or equipment; a consultant can help ensure that these products and services meet potential customer needs. Additionally, if your company plans to explore a new opportunity, it makes good business sense to consider hiring a consultant, if only for short term information gathering.
    How can you increase chances of a successful outcome when working with a consultant?   
     The value of work done by the consultant is directly related to the relationship and mutual respect between the client and the consultant. You must feel comfortable with the consultant you hire. Otherwise, you are not likely to value their analysis or advice. Additionally, be sure to hire someone with expertise in the field of your business. Alternatively, think about which segment of industry you need to consider. Is it manufacturing, collision repair, mechanical repair, equipment sales, association building and/or insurance related issues? Each area requires a particular expertise. If your needs are varied, you should retain consultants with a wide variety of skills and general background knowledge.
     Your major responsibility as the client is to work with the consultant to define your project and/or needs and expectations as thoroughly as possible. Defining the project is often the most difficult part of any client/consultant relationship. If the consultant cannot understand, or is not given all of the information you know about your business, it will be difficult to meet expectations.
     Additionally, deadlines, report structure (written, face to face presentation, or conference calls) should be defined in a consulting agreement. These important points must be communicated and agreed upon in advance to assure that your expectations will be realized.
     You have decided to hire a consultant:now what do you have to do?
     Just as you would interview a prospective employee, you should also interview a consultant. This will allow you to determine their level of knowledge and whether or not your goals are aligned. You should not decide whether or not to hire consultants until after meeting with them.
     Once you have decided to hire a consultant and identified the person or group with whom you want to work, check their references. This can be done in a variety of ways, but if they are industry consultants, asking others about them should provide valuable information to base your decision on. Make sure their clients are satisfied clients.
     Upon choosing your consultant, work with them to define the goals and objectives of the project. Try to be as clear as possible about your expectations. Establish a time line, budget, fee structure and payment schedule. A good consultant will work with you during this phase of the project to help you identify and meet your goals and objectives.
     Once the project has begun, take the time to listen to the consultant's suggestions. You have hired this person because they are objective and can speak to you openly. Do not view critical feedback as a negative. The consultant does not want you, or your company, to lose face. Suggestions will be made to help you avoid costly delays and errors, not to challenge your authority or the quality of your company or your product. A trusting relationship with your consultant, with mutual respect, will yield the best results.
     This article was written by Karen Fierst and Lou DiLisio of Superior Consultants.
     Superior Consultants, LLC, a consortium of automotive consultant, provides the international automotive industries with high-level consulting services. Superior Consultants have over 100 years of combined experience in the automobile service industry.
Contact Information:
Tom Stryker
Superior Consultants
International Automotive Consulting
(775) 853-5118
(775) 853-5119
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Editorial Department of International Investment Express for the ninth China International Fair for Investment and Trade
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