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"There's no question that the minute I got elected, the storm clouds on the horizon were getting nearly directly overhead." Washington DC, 11 May, 2001
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Let's spend some time exploring the logistical realities of doing business overseas. In some ways, the international financial world will seem familiar. In other ways, it will be truly foreign.
To carry out overseas business, a person needs to become an expert at contacts. He will have to find out about business opportunities through books like this and from financial advisors of various sorts. He will need to establish contacts with bankers, agents, accountants, attorneys, and perhaps, customers in each nation that he intends to do business in and throughout the rest of the offshore world. He will have to learn how to control international transactions by telex, fax, e-mail, cable, letter, telephone, and personal visit.
To do business overseas, first find out what can be sold or bought there. A little research can be an inexpensive way of learning the basics. Experts who charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their time have written books or newsletters that give readers the same information for much less money. Access to the business library of a large city will provide anyone with newsletters and books on most of the subjects you need to know about.
Different publications will offer contrasting views of the different offshore investment techniques. The authors particularly suggest that the interested reader look up the US Congressional Reports on the uses and abuses of tax havens because they give minute details of creative schemes developed by other financial operators and they provide a preview of what Congress has in mind for further legislation.
Most international business goes much more smoothly with an advisor who can help, particularly during the initial stages of the international investor's career. It goes without saying that careful selection is vital. A person should proceed as he would in selecting a domestic advisor. He should ask people he trusts for recommendations and interview potential candidates carefully, both to ascertain the depth of their expertise and to discover if there are any problems that would prevent a good working relationship.
If possible, the novice transnational should find someone who has worked with the advisor before and talk to that person about the advisor's performance. Try to test an advisor by using his advice for small transactions first, before expanding the relationship. You should always keep in mind the basic principle of dealing with the advice of others: "Take advice but do not surrender responsibility for your own affairs." In addition, you shouldn't do anything you doesn't thoroughly understand and agree with. It's better to pass up an opportunity than to get in over your head.
You should select the foreign individuals and businesses with which you deals with the same care that you picks advisors. You should get recommendations from people you trust and check candidates out thoroughly. It's important to find people who can be trusted to execute instructions accurately, since you won't be able to be there watching them.
Endeavor to investigate selected areas of operation in person to meet the people that you'll work with. It's probably no accident that the most popular overseas havens are located in some of the best vacation spots in the world. Take the opportunity to meet the local government officials who will be ruling on the applications to form various entities. They are likely to give a more favorable response to people they know on a personal basis - and they have the power to do special favors for those they like & respect. Make sure that the entity's main personal representative in the jurisdiction, often the registered agent, is well thought-of by the government and by the resident members of the international business community. In the offshore world, a business' reputation and the reputation of its agents are often all that it will be judged by.
This document was excerpted, modified & otherwise prepared by the 'Lectric Law Library ('LLL) from materials supplied by Baltic Banking Group - www.BalticBankingGroup.com Copyright 1998 - 2002 'LLL & BBG, all rights reserved.