globalEDGE Blog

The USA, more than most other countries, has been reluctant to engage in trade agreements. As a backdrop, the US-Israel Trade Agreement is the oldest agreement involving the US and it went into effect on September 1, 1985. Since then, the US has signed 13 more trade agreements, covering 20 countries in total with the Israeli agreement (with 18 more agreements being deliberated).

But, during the same 30-year period the world has seen 256 new trade agreements involving a large portion of the world, as registered with the World Trade Organization (see my article in The Conversation). Nineteen trade agreements were in force worldwide in 1985. Now there are 275, with 132 agreements being implemented in the last decade. The bottom line is that the US is very reluctant to engage in almost any form of trade agreement compared with the rest of the world.

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The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a 65-page complaint to about 47 different energy and mining giants, accusing them of contributing to climate change and thus violating the fundamental rights of Filipino citizens. Grievances listed include violation of the rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination." The document demands that the corporations respond within 45 days with formal plans to either eliminate or lessen their carbon footprints. Major companies listed in the dispatch include Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BHP Billiton. Both human rights and environmental organizations are calling this a "landmark case." 

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Even after Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, Europe still stands strong and connected in many ways. The European Union is a treaty with 28 country participants, developed to bind its members with specific laws and an internal market. The Union was originally created after the Second World War to unify Germany and France, but now it serves its main purpose to allow the free movement of people, capital, goods and services between its members.

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Having lived in the United States since 1987, off and on, and then becoming a U.S citizen in 2004 after Sweden allowed dual citizenship starting in 2001, I’ve become entrenched in the “American” culture and way of live. I’m happy to live in the United States; it’s a great country with great opportunities, but it is not America!

America consists of 55 countries and territories, including of course the United States of America. The U.S.A. is the largest of the 55 entities, with more than 320 million people, followed by Brazil with about 205 million, Mexico with about 121 million, and then the population figures drop below 50 million for all other countries and territories. Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Ecuador - in that order – are in the top 10 most populous countries in America as well. These top 10 most populous countries in America make up about 88 percent of the total population of some 982 billion people in the region which, by continent, includes North America and South America.

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As someone who played tennis at a high-level from kindergarten into my 20s (plus engaged competitively in other sports), I have always believed my drive to do well vis-à-vis the competition (versus others and versus my own past accomplishments), in anything I set out to do, is rooted in a values-structure tracing to my competitive tennis days. Some even argue that tennis players make the best employees! Now, this is not about tennis; it’s about former athletes being global leaders.

But this is not any athlete. Most people play sports as a part of their upbringing. If you are like me, I had my children try out a bunch of different sports to see what they liked, didn’t like, and what could diversify their mindsets. This recreational, low-level sports engagement makes for well-rounded individuals, I believe, but doesn’t make them leaders per se. High-level sports, at least college sports or equivalent, and preferably some kind of professional level where you can at least make some money, is what sets the tone for global leadership.

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File under: Finance, Global Economy

From 2012 and 2015, it was estimated that budget deficits for governments in the Eurozone were reduced by 40% because of lower borrowing costs. The reduction in the cost of borrowing can be attributed to central banks policies. Low bond yields allow for governments to reduce their deficits and possibly lighten their current austerity measures, and lately, many yields have fallen into negative territory.

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Somewhat provocatively, let's pose the question: Are good dictators better for a country (and the world) than bad elected presidents?

Traveling the world, mainly for business-related reasons, has gotten me thinking about country governments, infrastructure-building, and the world community. The United Nations has 193 members, which means almost all countries in the world are UN members (54 countries or territories, recognized as such, are not, including notable exceptions such as Taiwan, Kosovo, Vatican City, and Palestine).

On my most recent trip to Kenya and the meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Investment Forum, there was a plethora of countries represented and numerous high-level officials. And, since the meeting was in Africa, most of the 55 countries in Africa and its 1.2 billion people were represented by officials. Africa has seen its share of “dictators” and elected leaders, and that begs the question of which is the best – it seems the answer should be easy, but is it?

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China has set a deadline to significantly increase its robotic presence in its manufacturing industry by 2020. Currently, there are 36 robotics per 10,000 industrial workers; the 2020 goal is 150 per 10,000 workers. The driving forces of this shift include labor shortages due to an aging population, as well as the rising of wages due to decreased interest for low-level jobs. 

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