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Monday, March 19, 2007, 1:06 PM

Womble Carlyle Organizes Its First Ever Business Tour of China; Former N.C. Governor James Hunt to Lead Delegation

In 2006, China surpassed Mexico as the United States’ second-largest trading partner, trailing only Canada. China’s rapid economic growth in heavy manufacturing, agriculture and service industries means American companies will become even more connected with their Chinese counterparts in the years to come.

Womble Carlyle is meeting this trend head-on. The firm is taking the extraordinary and aggressive step of sending a team of attorneys on a two-week business tour of China.

The nine-member delegation, which includes lawyers from across the South Atlantic region, will meet with Chinese business leaders, including officials from U.S.-owned industries in China, as well as executives from Chinese companies operating in America. The goal is to improve relations with Chinese industry and foster client development in the world’s most populous nation.

In addition, the team will discuss business opportunities for Chinese companies in the South Atlantic region, which potentially could bring jobs and investment to the area.

Former four-term North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt will be leading the delegation. Gov. Hunt has been a long-time champion of improving U.S. relations with Asia. As governor, he recruited the first Japanese companies to build facilities in North Carolina nearly 30 years ago. His contacts in the Far East were instrumental in putting this trip together.

"We want to discover ways to serve these companies more effectively," Gov. Hunt said. "This is a groundbreaking trip for our law firm."

The Womble Carlyle attorneys will meet with executives from Chinese industry, current Womble Carlyle clients, attorneys from Chinese law firms and American and Chinese government officials. The itinerary includes meetings with the Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office, the American Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Commercial Service, the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone and the Jiangsu Province’s Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. The Georgia-China Alliance, the North Carolina China Center and the North Carolina Department of Commerce assisted the firm in setting up various business meetings.

The firm also will host two "Doing Business in the Southeast" seminars for Chinese businesses during the two-week tour—one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. In addition, attorney Randy Hanson will be speaking at the Zsoft Outsourcing Summit, an international meeting of software companies, in Beijing.

Guanming Fang, a corporate and securities and economic development attorney in the firm’s Atlanta office, also will participate in the two-week tour. Guanming was born and raised in China and speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese.

The delegation also includes attorneys John Hunter, Ed Miller, Kirk Watkins, Rory Whelehan, Jim Kearney and Zion Levi.

Meetings are scheduled in seven Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Jinan, Suzhou and Ningbo.

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