Interview with Sara Marchetta, Partner of Chiomenti Law Firm (Beijing); States’ Representative of the European Chamber.
What’s your favourite and best memory of the European Chamber?
I have a lot of very good memories of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China …
One of my favourites is the day I was elected vice president in 2014. I had resigned from the same position at the Italian Chamber. When I saw from the stage the huge ballroom full of people [at the European Chamber elections], I was scared and excited at the same time. When attending important events of the European Chamber, I am still the same, both scared and excited.
Another very good memory I have of the first presentation of the Beijing Local Position Paper. We all had a sticker with the number of years each of us has been in Beijing, and lots of stories came out about our ‘old Beijing’.
What has changed in the business/regulatory environment in your sector v.s. 20 years ago?
I am a foreign lawyer in Beijing, so have to say that not much changed in the regulatory environment for us, except for the fact that things got partially worse: prohibition on foreign investment in the legal services sector, plus stricter rules on the practice of People’s Republic of China (PRC) law by foreign lawyers. There are some limited pilot projects of joint ventures (JVs) with local firms, but that is basically it.
The business environment, on the contrary, has changed quite a lot. When I started in 1997 in Beijing, lawyers were quite pioneers of the profession in China, but also of the advisory business in general. Since then, PRC firms have grown stronger and stronger, they are more professional and very well-skilled, so they have become very good peers and companions in advising foreign investors. The other big change from a business point of view has been that Chinese companies started less than ten years ago to invest abroad, and also in Europe, and therefore we have had new areas – and also new skills – to develop.
Sara Marchetta, Partner of Chiomenti Law Firm Beijing; States’ Representative of the European Chamber.