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Legal links to sprout on Silk Road

Updated: 2016-10-08 01:49
By Zhang Yan (China Daily)

Lawyers will compile guidebooks to reduce risks in trade, investment

Chinese lawyers will seek to collaborate with their counterparts in all the countries along the ancient Silk Road to boost business and investment ties.

They will seek partnership with law firms from the 65 countries to jointly compile and release books of guidance to reduce risks in cross-border business and investment, said a senior official at the All China Lawyers' Association.

The books will help Chinese investors understand legal practices in those countries related to investment, trade, labor, intellectual property, environmental protection and settlement of disputes, according to He Yong, the ACLA's secretary-general.

Since 2013, China has been promoting trade and business relations with countries on the ancient Silk Road as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The Ministry of Justice has allocated 1.1 million yuan ($165,100) for compiling the guidebooks, He said.

"They will ... list the top-tier local law firms and lawyers of the Belt and Road countries ... to help potential investors seek professional services when they encounter cross-border legal problems," he added.

More Chinese investors have expanded their business in recent years in the Belt and Road countries or plan to do so, but many of their investments have failed due to a lack of knowledge about foreign laws and cultural differences, according to the ACLA.

As a result, the number of disputes has been rising sharply, it said.

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce indicate that in the first eight months of the year, China's overseas investment was valued at $118.06 billion, an increase of 53.3 percent year-on-year, ranking third in the world.

More than 18,500 Chinese enterprises have established 29,700 companies in foreign countries, with total assets of $3 trillion.

Jiang Junlu, the ACLA's deputy director for the international business committee, said the association has established a database of 92 Chinese lawyers who are proficient at handling cross-border lawsuits.

The lawyers will first help Chinese enterprises communicate with the leading law firms in 46 Belt and Road countries. He said the first guidebook of investment-related laws involving the 46 countries will be published in March, and the second one, including the other 19 countries, will be published before the end of next year.

Shen Lin, a senior official at the Department of Directing Lawyers and Notarization at the Ministry of Justice, said most of the Belt and Road countries are developing countries with underdeveloped economies and an unsound legal environment, and they are in urgent need of Chinese financial and technical support.

"Over the past few years, cases of failure in foreign investment involving Chinese enterprises have been increasing, and it's more than necessary to improve professional legal services to help Chinese investors," she said.

Lin Cuizhu, a senior lawyer at Guangdong Hengfu Law Firm, said lawyers can play an essential role in guaranteeing enterprises' investment success overseas.

She said the priority for Chinese lawyers is to "get more familiar with the laws and regulations in relevant countries".

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