Cross border challenges
Singapore 18th July 2011
Cross border occur nearly daily in our project activities, specifically our Singapore office, where we mostly handle projects in the Asia-Pacific region. A number of issues come into play. While english is the common business language, there is always that “lost in translation” issue. Today I received a near 30 page contract for one of our new china projects…in chinese of course. I have an appointment comfirmation for the project based on our (english) fee proposal, terms and conditions, but you will not be surprised that the chinese version is quite different. I now have to have it checked nearly word for word as it will become the legal document biding us with the client for the next 2 years or so.
The “cross border” challenges when it comes to the contract include things like legal status, responsibility, but also withholding taxes, tax residency certification for the company to avoid double taxation, exchange rate issues and so on. To get overseas payments some countries need to lodge complicated applications with governments national banks, apply with multiple documents in support to get the clearance for the overseas payment. No wonder sometimes people prefer to hand carry cash back rather then go through the hoops of the banking system.
Cross border challenges also occur when we select our light fittings. While we may specify internationally known brands, they are
represented in different countries by different agents and suppliers. Manufactured in country A, specified by the consultant in country B and delivered on site in country C. The representatives of the brands in countries B and C have generally their own arrangements with the head office in country A. Note that sometimes the headoffice of the brand may not ncessarily be in the
same country A. Many European lighting brands have manufacturing and or assembly facilities in Asia for instance. It is therefore not surprising we so often have cross border challenges to resolve.
In Light Watch today the enormous flight that solar systems are taking. In the French Alps of Haute Provence on the Plateau des Mees, a huge photovoltaic installation has started operation. The high altitude (cooler air) increases the efficiency of the solar
panels. Covering more than 36 ha with 79,000 modules it produces 26,000MWh it is part of a huge solar park of 200 ha that is slated for completion by end of 2011. Is this the future for our energy needs?
Light Watch 124: Plateau des Mees, French Alps