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SBDC, WWU, Port of Bellingham to Co-Host Seminar on the Future of Business in China April 8 at Western

Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) along with The Port of Bellingham, Western’s College of Business and Economics, and its Center for International Business, will host “China: The Future of the Market for American Firms” from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, April 8 in Parks Hall Room #31 on the WWU campus.

This event is open to the public and free of charge; however, due to a desire to have a roundtable dialog with speakers and participants, attendance is limited to 30 people.  To reserve a spot please send a request to WWU Professor of Management Tom Roehl at

The changes in the nature of the Chinese economy and the nation’s slower growth rate require American firms to think carefully about both the opportunities and challenges in dealing with the Chinese market.   The seminar’s speakers will look at governmental, legal and IP issues, along with the perspective of a WWU scholar who writes about China for Foreign Affairs magazine.

Attendees will come out of the seminar with a much better understanding of the many factors that interact to make China such a fascinating yet challenging market.   Change always gives opportunities for new players in any market and the speakers will work to improve the understanding of the issues which are going to shape the market.

Selling products to a rapidly growing middle class concerned about quality, consistency and safety will remain an exciting area for companies willing to make the effort to learn about the evolving marketplace.

The following speakers will start the roundtable discussion with talks on their area of expertise.

Robert A. Rice,   Trans-Pacific Management Partners.   Rice has had a long Asia-centric career, and advises multinational firms on general management, sales and marketing, and joint venture issues.  His work experience in a variety of industries, including CEO of an automotive operation firm in China, gives him perspective on the rich mix of industry specific opportunities in China.

Pradnya Desh is the managing partner for Desh International & Business Law. She focuses her practice on reviewing foreign governments’ compliance with WTO agreements and free trade agreements, international business transactions, advocacy with government agencies, dispute resolution and trade remedies. Formerly, Desh was a diplomat in the U.S. State Department and a U.S. trade negotiator with USTR in Geneva.

Sara Xia is an attorney licensed in California. Before joining Desh International & Business Law, she practiced business law in Shanghai, China. Her experience includes mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, formation and organization of corporations and China foreign exchange control policies. Having lived and worked in Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Seattle, Xia has become adept at effectively communicating with people from diverse backgrounds, especially at overcoming communication barriers while helping them connect with each other.

Baozhen Luo is an associate professor of Sociology at Western Washington University. Luo’s primary research interests are in the areas of population aging within a global context. More specifically, her recent research has been primarily focused on long-term care, aging policies, and well-being among the elderly population in China where the society is undergoing massive social, economic and cultural transformation.   She is a member of the China advisory board of Foreign Affairs magazine, and has written for that widely read publication on changes in Chinese society.


Parking Information:

Attendees will need to stop at the Parking Office in the Campus Services Building to pay a fee and pick up a parking pass for the event, or park on the street or in metered spots on campus. 

Directions: Turn right out of the Parking Office lot after getting your pass. Proceed to the Stop Light at the T intersection in front of the Wade King Student Recreation Center. Turn left up the hill past the Rec Center.   Just past the Rec Center, turn right into campus.  At the T, with a lot of construction equipment in front of you, turn right again into the 19G parking lot.   Walk to the north end of the parking lot and you will see a door to Parks Hall. The meeting room is just inside that door on the right.

For more information about this seminar, please contact Professor Tom Roehl at

Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center is part of the most comprehensive small-business alliance in the U.S., with more than 1,000 active SBDC programs across the country. Western Washington University’s SBDC receives support from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Whatcom County, the Port of Bellingham, and the City of Bellingham. Since 1983, Western Washington University’s Small Business Development Center has given back to the business community and helped to shape the economic future of Whatcom County by providing free, confidential advising, technical assistance, and research to business owners and managers in an effort to help businesses thrive.

The International Business program at Western Washington University’s College of Business and Economics and the Center for International Business bring speakers on international topics to campus and to the community.  The undergraduate students majoring in International Business have worked with many local firms on over 100 projects to help identify increased international market opportunities, opportunities that lead to a healthier and globally connected business community in Whatcom County.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 12:29pm