This op-ed was originally published in The Seattle Times on December 26, 2018.
In March 1979, the American-flagged ship Letitia Lykes sailed into Shanghai harbor, where it was festooned with flowers and greeted by diplomats. Seattle attorney Stan Barer developed the legal strategy to break the 30-year freeze on shipping between our nations which had existed since “Red China.” A month later, where did the first Chinese ship arrive in the United States? The Port of Seattle.
In September 2015, President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to the United States as President of China. Besides Washington, D.C., what other city did he visit? Seattle. What’s the closest international airport in the “lower 48” states from Shanghai or Beijing? SeaTac Airport. What major American deep-water port is closest to China? The ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
What other nation will buy more Boeing-made commercial aircraft in 2018 and potentially for the foreseeable future? China. Which U.S. public university has established a joint cross-disciplinary technological institute with Tsinghua University? The University of Washington.
Imagine that you’ve had great sales of your product in your home country and you attend an international trade show, where a representative of a famous company from the U.S. approaches your booth. Perhaps the rep tells you that there’s nothing like your product available in the U.S. and it’s guaranteed to be a hit. Can they represent you, the rep asks. Suddenly the potential of the U.S. market opens up and you see dollar signs everywhere. But where do you begin?
It all depends on the perceived opportunity. If a foreign enterprise wants to sell its goods in the U.S., it usually starts small and gradually increases its investment. Our next installment of the Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. describes the different approaches a business might take to sell its wares in the U.S.
- We start with the simplest of legal structures (a simple buy and sell transaction)
- We then describe the other types of structures through which such sales might occur, including distribution and sales agency relationships.
- We also highlight some of the most salient considerations to keep in mind at the outset:
- Compliance with customs;
- Anti-dumping considerations; and
- Other federal laws governing goods entering the U.S. market.
However, stay tuned for future installments of our guide, which will address other considerations and legal risks associated with entering the U.S. market to sell goods or services. This will include information on products liability laws, consumer protection laws, environmental protection laws, intellectual property laws, antitrust laws and the like. Today’s installment is merely to provide an initial introduction to the topic of selling goods in the U.S., and to provide our readers with the key points to first consider when exploring the U.S. market.
Foster Garvey’s International practice group comprises a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. A number of attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.