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If your question is not answered below, send us an email: chinabic@trade.gov

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1: How do I locate the import tariff applied to a particular product?

A wealth of information related to China customs issues is available in the China Law & Regulations section of this website.

Before finding the tariff amount for a particular product, companies need to identify the harmonized tariff schedule number for their product. The harmonized tariff schedule number can be located by using the Census Bureau's Schedule B search engine or by speaking with commodity expert at 1-800-549-0595.

After identifying the harmonized tariff number, the U.S. government provides a database that U.S. exporters may use to identify import tariffs applied by nearly 50 countries. China's tariff rates may also be found on China Tariff Schedule located on the World Trade Organization website, or call 1-800-USA-TRADE (800-872-8723) for assistance.

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Q2: What method of payment is recommended for exports to China?

The most secure method of payment is letter of credit confirmed by a U.S. bank.

Although the Bank of China dominates China's trade-finance business, most Chinese commercial banks have the authority to issue letters of credit for imports. These include China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and CITIC Industrial Bank. Foreign banks with branch or representative offices in China can also issue letters of credit. Other common forms of payment are less secure. Learn more about methods of payment used in international commercial transactions and nuances specific to getting paid for exports to China.

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Q3: Where are some of the "warning" signs of a Chinese scam?

Although China’s booming economy offers great opportunities for U.S. companies, businesses looking to invest or export to any foreign country should always exercise due diligence. Exporters recently reported unsolicited buyer interest from China and elsewhere that turned out to be bogus. While not all unsolicited interest is fraudulent, American companies should always be cautious when considering such situations. Requests for advance payments, samples or prototypes to be sent in advance of sales negotiations, cash for a banquet far in excess of typical costs, cash for travel expenses for an “essential” U.S. meeting, all pose red flags that a business opportunity may be fraudulent. To report a suspicious business offer from China, contact your local US Export Assistance Center or the China Business Information Center at (chinabic@trade.gov). Read more about China Business Scams.

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Q4: Where can I find U.S.-China trade statistics?

The U.S. Commerce Department provides a trade statistics database that may be searched by industry sector or country of destination. The United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database and the USITC Interactive Tariff and Trade Database are also very useful tools in searching for trade statistics. The National Bureau of Statistics of China is the authoritative source of trade statistics collected by the Chinese Government.

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Q5: Where can I find information on the business visa process for Chinese visitors who wish to come to the U.S.?

Please contact the State Department's Business Visa Center at (202) 663-3198, or BusinessVisa@State.gov. Information is also published by the Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The Commerce Department has no official role or authority in the visa application process.

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Q6: How do I apply for a visa to visit China for business purposes?

View guidance provided by the Chinese government on its visa application process. Note that application must be made in person or through an authorized agent.

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Q7: How can I identify a prospective Chinese buyer or sales agent?

The U.S. Commercial Service provides a number of services that can help new to market companies identify a prospective Chinese buyer or sales agent. Learn more about these programs under Services for U.S. Companies.

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Q8: How can I check the background of a Chinese company?

Undertaking a due diligence investigation prior to engaging in a trade transaction can minimize risk of encountering commercial disputes. The U.S. Commercial Service provides a service to conduct a preliminary background check. Learn more about the International Company Profile service. The U.S. Commercial Service can also refer your company to other service providers in China.

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Q9: How can I identify the best trade shows in China?

Each year hundreds of trade shows are held throughout China. Identify trade shows that are supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce in China, or view other trade shows featured on our industry sector pages.

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Q10: How can I determine the best export prospects for China?

The U.S. Commercial Service identifies best U.S. export prospects on an annual basis. Extensive information can be found through the market research library. In addition, review Chapter 4 (Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment) of the most recent Country Commercial Guide for China.

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Q11: How can the U.S. government help my company compete for major projects in China?

Your firm can reap the most benefit from contact with the U.S. Department of Commerce's Advocacy Center at the earliest stages of a project. Early expressions of interest by an overseas government ministry or agency, followed by your company's expressions of interest, often help shape the tender specifications and can improve your chances of winning a tender. When your efforts are combined with U.S. Government advocacy, the prospects of winning improve even more, and help level the playing field!

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Q12: How can I find business service providers in China?

China's system for regulation of foreign commercial activity is difficult to navigate and non-transparent. Companies new to market are strongly encouraged to retain professional services to structure commercial transactions. Fortunately, there are many China-specialized service providers.

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Q13: How do I protect my company's intellectual property rights in China?

In spite of progress towards improving its intellectual property legal and regulatory regime, China continues to be a challenging environment for IPR protection and enforcement. To learn more about how your company can protect its intellectual property in China, visit Stopfakes.gov, and see the summary of the programs available through the U.S. Department of Commerce to help U.S. firms develop and intellectual property strategy plan.

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Q14: How can the U.S. Government help me resolve a commercial dispute?

The role of the U.S. government in resolving commercial disputes is to assist companies navigate the Chinese legal system, provide a list of local attorneys, and share basic information on potentially applicable trade agreements and Chinese business practices. The U.S. government is not authorized to provide legal advice. American companies that have disputes with private Chinese firms often request U.S. Government intervention with Chinese authorities on their behalf. Such intervention is rarely appropriate unless the company has exhausted all remedies under China's legal system. Learn more about resolving commercial disputes in China.

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Q15: How do I set up a representative office in China?

Establishment of a representative office has become the most common means of establishing a long-term presence in China. Chinese law restricts the scope of activity undertaken by such offices to "indirect business activity." A representative office may act as a liaison with Chinese contacts, implement contracts signed outside China by the home office, and undertake market research. Such offices may not engage in trade, receive fees for service, sign contracts or directly generate income. Contact a Commercial Service office in China about the registration process.

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Q16: Where can I find information on evaluating locations to set up an office or manufacturing facility?

Development zones in Eastern China are a first consideration for many US businesses. These zones focus on different industries, often have preferential tax policies, solid infrastructure and various services geared toward foreign firms. Many business service providers, both Western and Chinese, provide detailed site analysis assistance.

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Q17: How can I get U.S. government assistance in resolving trade barriers or unfair trade practices I've encountered in China?

The Trade Compliance Center is the U.S. Government's focal point for monitoring foreign compliance with trade agreements to see that U.S. firms and workers get the maximum benefits from these agreements. The TCC is your one-stop shop for getting U.S. government assistance in resolving the trade barriers or unfair trade practices you encounter in foreign markets. You may report a foreign trade barrier directly on-line by using the Trade Complaint Hotline..

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Q18: What should I do if I find my exports subject to a Chinese antidumping or countervailing duty investigation?

If you find yourself facing a Chinese trade remedy (e.g., antidumping, countervailing duty, or safeguard) investigation of your exports to China, it is important to act quickly.  Import Administration’s Trade Remedy Compliance Staff (TRCS) and Subsidies Enforcement Office (SEO) are your first stop for questions and concerns regarding foreign trade remedy actions.  TRCS can assist you to better understand foreign antidumping and safeguards investigations and the SEO can do the same for foreign countervailing duty (anti-subsidy) cases.  We can help you understand the process, point out deadlines you won’t want to miss, and provide support to help ensure that the foreign authorities conduct the investigation fairly and according to international rules.  For more information and contacts, go to http://export.gov/tradeproblems/index.asp#P29_2523.

Click here for a current list of Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases involving US-origin products.

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