Going global represents a strategic decision for any company. I have always been fascinated by international firms who manage to run their business in different markets, following different strategies tailored to that specific country. Expanding the business and/or entering a new market requires resources, time, a lot of effort and a detailed plan to be implemented and controlled. But above all, it requires the company to “understand” the country and set the conditions favorable for developing a win-win situation by creating value both for the company and the country itself.

This interest encouraged me to attend the 2017 MBA Management Boot Camp “Going Global” to acquire tools and instruments for evaluating the risks and opportunities in developing an international business.
In this framework, my job has just taken me on a business trip to China, where I visited Beijing and Guangzhou (a city with a population of 15 million, located in the south, close to Hong-Kong).

During the visit, my colleagues and I had the chance to meet the four main think-tanks in charge of advising the government when it comes to international politics and the economy. We had a sort of round-table discussion which covered several topical areas of interest. Given the ever-changing environment in all of these areas, we started off by discussing current relations between China, the EU and the USA.

The focus then moved on to Italy, to talk in relation to that country about the One Road-One Belt initiative which China has set up as a development strategy. Next, since China is playing an extremely important role here, the possible developments in the North Korean nuclear crisis was put on the table for discussion. Finally, we moved on to talk about first the situation in Central Asia and relations between China and India and to close, the growing Chinese presence in Africa and in the Mediterranean sea.
All these discussions clearly illustrated China’s growing influence and involvement in world affairs.

It was also an opportunity to “get a flavour of” the Chinese way of thinking and develop a common understanding on critical issues that, directly or indirectly, could potentially impact on business activities.

After just 7 days I can easily make the argument that the global economy and politics has a genuine new rule-maker, which is changing very fast. Why do I say that? For several reasons: for example, its domestic market could soon be the largest in the world; its generation of 400 million young consumers will soon account for more than half of the domestic consumption and it is extremely digitalized through integrated mobile platforms. These consumers are driving the country’s transformation from a labor-intensive and manufacturing economy to a service-based one.

In a nutshell, China has a very large domestic market, where rising incomes push consumption and investment and with a growth model based less on exports. To sustain this “architecture” and considering recent political developments in the USA, the country is moving in the direction of a more multilateral framework and the Belt and Road initiative, launched in 2013, is heading in this direction by integrating Eurasia through important investments and huge infrastructure projects.

How China intends to manage its internal market will have consequences on international partners and developing countries. The same could be said when it comes to relations between Beijing and Washington… and the coming months could be crucial in having a better understanding of the next political and economic developments.

In the meantime, did you know that noodles and dumplings are served respectively to welcome and say hello to foreigners?