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How multinationals are finding opportunities in a changing world

On 23 May the ECCT hosted a Premium Event lunch featuring guest speaker Eduardo Leite, Chairman of the Executive Committee of multinational law firm Baker & McKenzie. At the event, Leite gave a speech on the topic "Multinational enterprises: Finding opportunities in a changing world". In his speech Leite talked about how multinational corporations are constantly searching for new markets, both to tap new consumers for their products and services and to find efficiencies in their supply chains. He noted that a flattening world offers tremendous opportunities, but it also presents risks. His speech offered some key insights gleaned from his clients about how some of the world's largest companies are taking advantage of the changing world.

Leite began with an introduction to the history of Baker & McKenzie as well as an overview of the current global economy. He talked about the present economic developments in the United States, Europe, Brazil and the Middle East and pointed out that "everything has an impact on everything" in the interconnected world. He expressed optimism about the world's economic prospects but said that there might still be a couple of tough years ahead.

Leite offered the following advice on doing business in foreign countries:

1. Always have a plan B:
When it comes to doing business in the world, there are just too many challenges and crises that one can't predict. It is therefore essential to plan for the future and have a long-term goal as well as the ability and flexibility to deal with changes.

2. Stay away from corruption:
A good company should be responsible to its clients, employees, society and itself. When a company goes to a new country, it has to understand and deal with the culture and local government, but it is also important that the company should be careful and deliberate when making decisions.

3. Learn the new market:
The local market can be influenced by many factors, so the company should try to understand the different aspects of the new market including the politics, culture and the economy.

4. Take care of your own people:
Employees are a company's most important asset, especially when you have teams in dangerous places.

5. Have good relationships with the country:
It is important to know major government officials such as regulators. Establish good relationships with them and let them know your company. This will result in benefits for your business.

6. Raise local leaders:
Local people know about the local market the most, so it's essential to create local leaders and encourage them to improve themselves so that they may later become global leaders.