Best Practices for Emerging Market Countries: The Two Minute Version

I was deleting old Powerpoints recently and I found one from a talk I gave a long time ago in Atlanta, focusing on what it takes — legally — to conduct business successfully in or with emerging market countries.

If I recall correctly, I was on a panel with a couple of other international lawyers and we were each to lead off with two minutes to talk about the basics on what companies doing business internationally should know. The below is from my one slide Powerpoint.

Make the law your friend. If you operate both legally and with an eye towards the legal ramifications of what you do, you will have greater leverage with both the companies you do business and the governments that regulate you. You will also sleep better at night, both in the short term and the long term.

Use good contracts. If you have a great contract, you probably have at least some leverage to require your counterparty to remedy the problem or to sue if they don’t. If you have no contract, you almost certainly lack the leverage to get your supplier to fix things.

Protect your IP. Companies too often focus extensively on being protected on their deals, but in our experience, it is the rare deal that literally destroys a company. What we do see destroy companies is when someone takes their IP (and due to their failure to protect it) the company that has taken the IP can legally use it. When someone can sell YOUR exact product for 50% less than you, it becomes difficult, sometimes impossible, to compete.

What would you have said if given two minutes?