Howard Li shares insight into trade in China and the U.S.
Updated 21:22, 02-Oct-2019
Wang Hui

He was named as one of the 25 most influential Chinese Americans in U.S. business by Forbes Asia. He has humble beginnings and is seen today as a self-made man. Howard Li is the former Vice Chair of the China General Chamber of Commerce in the United States. He founded and runs Waitex Group, a major global enterprise specializing in import and export trading, and retail chains and fashion designs. With long-term business experiences in both countries, Li sat down with CGTN's Wang Hui to share his thoughts on economic engagement in both places, and the ongoing trade war between the two.

Li is always delighted to talk about his business projects. But he says it was tough in the beginning. Li spent all his savings to establish the Waitex Group in New York in 1981, and made his own designs. He visited nearly every street multiple times in Paris and Milan to learn about the most fashionable designs, and sold his products in New York store by store. The company now has more than 20 garment brands and series.

He says diligence is the only way for first generation Chinese immigrants to survive.

"They start from nothing. The only way is they have to work hard, try to learn and make products that can be acceptable by the market. They have no choice," Li said. 

VCG Photo

VCG Photo

Li is also called "the King of the Warehouse" in the U.S.. Starting from buying warehouses in the early 90s, his company now owns about a dozen logistics centers covering nearly 300,000 square meters in the U.S., serving more than 500 major enterprises worldwide. Li started his investments in China in 2002, covering supply chain logistics, luxury designer outlets, and the V1 Auto World Projects. With a deep understanding of the two countries' economic environments, he shared his experience of entering the Chinese market.

"How to get into the market, you need a local partner, because you don't understand the language and the law. You need the people help you to win," he said. Li added that "you have to have people you trust. I see a lot of cases that the company they want to get to the Chinese market, but they don't trust a good partner, a local partner, so they face a lot of difficulties. ”

When talking about the current trade war between China and the U.S., Li voiced his concern on misleading media coverage.

"Everybody reads the newspaper and TV. There is a lot of wrong information, and the people who wrote the article, they don't know the truth, or they didn't go to China at all. The information is not 100 percent true. So, the media's information is not true, and some is misleading a lot of people," Li noted. 

He also responded to the view that the best time window for doing business in China has passed.

"China has changed the market's policy from depending on exporting to domestic demand. That's a huge opportunity. Chinese consumers need good-quality and better merchandise and technology development. They will grow fast, and in some areas, they will grow even faster than the States."