Since Garvey Schubert Barer’s founding in 1966, China has been a major focus of the firm’s practice. In 1979, Stan Barer and other GSB attorneys developed the legal strategy that led to the resumption of shipping between the U.S. and China after a thirty-year hiatus. The first Chinese ship to arrive in the United States sailed into the Port of Seattle, and the first American-flagged ship to sail to China was owned by a GSB client.
This strong alliance, forged and fostered by GSB, has led to Seattle’s importance in trade relations with China. China is Washington State’s major trade partner: in 2017, Washington State exported $18 billion in goods to China. The University of Washington and Tsinghua University have established a joint cross-disciplinary technological institute. President Xi Jinping visited only two locations in the United States: Seattle and Washington, D.C.
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.
On August 13, 2018, the President signed into law new legislation that will impose heightened oversight of investments by Chinese persons in U.S. businesses. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) provides greater specificity about the types of investments that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency committee of the U.S. government, may review and in turn block due to their potential threats to the national security of the U.S. The new law affects foreign direct investments from any country, but China is one of the countries it is particularly likely to affect.
China has been quite successful in encouraging foreign investments since the Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law was promulgated in the beginning of the country’s economic reform in 1979.
With the passage of time, the Chinese government has recognized the limitations of the old case-by-case approval regime which is typically time-consuming and burdensome for foreign investors. The government has sought to test various reform measures as seen through the establishment of several Free Trade Zones and new rules that only applied within the boundaries of these Free Trade Zones.
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.