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Transforming China Challenges

Ebusiness Prime streamlines the gamut of business, life and visas
2021-10-13 12:00:00

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The Covid era has added a layer of complication to nearly everything, rendering China’s already complex business license and taxation legalities particularly daunting. Sophia Zou, who has been wrangling visas, company licenses and factory sourcing for international clients since 2011, asserts that difficult is never impossible. “I am able to do whatever the client needs: registrations, rentals, restaurant licenses, plus foreign employees’ work visas, and China business development including tax plans,” says Zou, who established Ebusiness Prime with Natasha Fang in 2013, rebranding this year.

With two offices in Xuhui and a team of over ten people, Zou and Fang offer 15 years of combined experience and a comprehensive raft of services to streamline international businesses’ entry into and operations in China, particularly company setup and regulations, taxes, and factory sourcing, but expanding into all aspects of business operation and expatriate life where required. “Whatever they need, we can figure out a way,” says Zou. “Like Kababs on the Grill, we set up their second location on Jiashan Lu. It’s larger than visas and work permits. Both work and life, for their China life we are a full service, 360 degrees assistance: we can arrange an apartment, an ayi, a drivers license, everything.” Their past clients also include BMW, Nike, Pasha Turkish Restaurant, Danone and Brunel.

Zou focuses on the logistical and legal side, while Fang specializes in marketing and development. She cites an Italian furniture company newly entering China, which they helped to, first, “Manage their set up in China, because it is hard to bring foreign nationals here. This includes talking to the Shanghai local government, because if they are investing in China they will get a warm welcome. Then the government can issue the permit and the letter. Then we set up their office location, and their Chinese-language website and Wechat official account, with our marketing team.”

“For all of our clients, we have two goals: one, for them to come to China, and, two, for them to experience success here,” she continues. “Companies already here, we want to help them go from small to big. Right now, 70 to 80% of our clients are already in China; a lot of overseas companies are trying to come, but during Covid the process is slow,” though China’s booming economy means that many companies are continue to establish operations regardless of the challenges. She cites one Australian company for which the paperwork took three to four months to clear. “Employee visas are easier than new business licenses,” Zou adds.

Visas can be challenging even if one already owns a company set up here, she says, if lacking an office and tax records. The rule has now changed from requiring a desk, such as in a shared office or coworking space, to a dedicated small room – something some applicants find out the hard way, if last minute when attempting to renew. “The rules change every week. In Shanghai, it used to differ between districts, allowing some loopholes, but the city is now unifying the rules.”

For Zou’s clients, though, she tells them everything about the renewal terrain for their situation. Work permit and visa renewal typically take two weeks to two months, not particularly changed from the pre-Covid time frames. “It is very important to pay taxes, and now people can only get three month work visas, based on the company income,” though work permits and resident visas remain one year.

This year, Ebusiness Prime is offering a special of 4400 RMB, down from 6000 RMB, for company registration and official stamp. It also offers a special rate for taxes and bookkeeping, of 6000 RMB a year with an added two months free for a total of 14 months. The company can arrange an import/export license costs 2500 RMB. Online food sales businesses, for example, can be set up for 9500 RMB including the business license, assuming the product is premade with an existing ISO. (If making your own food to sell, also need the relevant food licenses and kitchen inspection.) “We also offer driving coaching in English, helping about 50 people a year get their licenses (though down to two this year),” Zou says. “We are like a school, for business and life in China.”