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Even a Pandemic and Tariffs Can't Stop Business Needs in China

December 17, 2020

While the recent tariff showdown with China may have slowed trade in the short term, we are seeing no downturn in the needs of companies doing business in both countries, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Led by partner Min Riblett (Tax) and director Yamei Zhai (Audit), through our association with the Moore Global Network, Armanino developed a "China Help Desk" to respond to the needs of American and Chinese businesses that require a full spectrum of accounting support across borders – from audit to corporate tax.

Zhai says that due to current travel restrictions, Chinese companies cannot send their auditors to the United States as they have for decades. That's where we're filling in the gap, ensuring we're keeping up with the responsiveness and efficiency needed in audit and tax services that meet all international standards. While some traditional activities like mergers and acquisitions have been hit by the realities of current global economics, Riblett and Zhai report no dip in demand for compliance capabilities like audits and international corporate tax consulting.

In fact, Zhai expects a greater emphasis on audits from U.S. regulators, as Chinese companies traditionally have not let their financials be inspected. A new SEC proposal would require these companies to comply with audits up to the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) standards in order to participate in American stock exchanges.

The China Help Desk has built a relationship with Da Hua, one of the largest public accounting firms in China. This partnership allows for Chinese and American companies to receive seamless support at home and abroad.

Both Riblett and Zhai are from mainland China and see themselves as a bridge between Chinese business culture and American accounting. Riblett says that even with more than a decade in the United States, there is still occasional culture shock for her, and she knows her perspective is helpful when working with Chinese clients.

Whether it's tax or audit, understanding things from a client's point of view is often the difference between success and failure in any industry or undertaking. Both Zhai and Riblett agree that their clients feel comfort in cultural common ground, which can sometimes be as important as the details of a contract.

And while overall business and trade between the United States and China may be down currently, Zhai doesn't see it lasting forever. For example, mergers and acquisitions are still a significant part of the China Help Desk's portfolio with Chinese companies interested in entering the U.S. market. As a result, Riblett also expects more client demand for outsourcing services in coming years. As Chinese companies operate here, they will have a need for HR, back office accounting and management specialists that can be sourced by the desk.

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