May 13, 2019
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
The U.S. market remains the envy of the world. Even when — as some Asian clients have told us — it isn’t always the most profitable market, it is the most prestigious. And, it is often remarkably profitable.
Companies obviously want to do business in the U.S. But for many of these companies, the challenges, always difficult, have become far more complex. Last year, we wrote a multi-part series in Forbes on how foreign companies can navigate the U.S. legal and regulatory challenges. That series garnered a great deal of interest and now another article in the series (below), as well as a forthcoming eBook and several broadcasts, which will come out later this spring.
As the advertising slogan goes, “This Bud’s for you.” For the Middle Eastern company under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigation, even though they do not trade on any U.S. exchanges, sell any products or services in the States, or employ any Americans. For the Korean chaebol struggling with critical media in Seoul and wondering how it will impact their American expansion plans. For the Chinese technology company looking to compete in the U.S. market at a time when trust is lower than before President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972 and obviously long before technology made distinguishing the difference between a state-owned enterprise and a private one virtually impossible to detect. And Russian companies? Even finding a U.S. law firm can be a challenge. Indeed, for any company who has looked at the American market with ambition, this article and series are for you.
FCPA, CFIUS, antitrust, trade secrets, export controls, antidumping, the plaintiffs’ bar, an independent and investigative U.S. media, grassroots activism, and now a trade war. The U.S. market is as rife with challenges as it is opportunity.
The most succinct advice we give foreign companies eyeing America: Don’t think in terms of a single “fixer,” which worked so well a half century ago. Instead think of a trusted, highly experienced team that understands Washington, DC and the continental US – lawyers, lobbyists, intelligence, and communications. Look at the Starbuck model and how it successfully entered China (a new Starbucks opens in China every 15 hours). That is, dismiss all of your comfortable homegrown knowledge which is now not an advantage but a prejudice. Hire internal and external talent in the U.S. at the most senior levels. You are about to have to make a series of “go-no go” decisions about issues perfectly legal or otherwise uneventful in your home country but are now mission critical in the U.S. Your internal team must be as expert at deciphering the U.S. advice as your trusted counselors are at providing it.