globalEDGE Blog - By Tag: north-america

In a meeting last week, the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada got together and discussed various issues surrounding their own countries, including forming new trade agreements to open up more trade across the globe. These three countries entered into their own agreement 20 years ago when they signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was a significant step for regional trade in the Western Hemisphere. Now, these three countries hope that they can use NAFTA as a springboard to form new agreements with other countries in an attempt to find new markets and diversify their own economies.

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Following the call for safer labor conditions in an era of globalization, 17 major retail firms from North America have unveiled a plan to improve factory safety standards throughout Bangladesh. Bangladesh, which is the world's second-largest retail exporting nation and sends about 85% of its goods to the European Union and United States, has notoriously suffered from hazardous working conditions in its factories. Labor groups have estimated that it would take $3 billion USD to raise the safety standards of the country's factories to an acceptable level, which prompted firms from the U.S. and Canada to form the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. The Alliance's goals include donating over $42 million USD over the five years of the plan, and for inspections to be carried out in the estimated 500 factories that the North American retailers use in Bangladesh.

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One of the major events affecting the world right now is the tropical cyclone in North America known as Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was the largest ever Atlantic hurricane by diameter and affected many parts of the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic including the countries of Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the United States. Early estimates vary significantly, but most suggest total economic damages attributable to the storm to be over $50 billion, which would make Sandy one of the most destructive hurricanes on record. As of the publication of this post, over 150 fatalities have been confirmed as a result of the storm. The majority of damage from the disaster occurred on the United States east coast, where Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and New York City. The impact on the economy from this disaster can be enormous, as natural disasters have been proven to drop GDP and economic growth significantly. The impacts due to this devastation in the world’s largest economy will have a profound impact on international business.

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Coface, a world leader in domestic and international trade receivable management, is hosting their annual Country Risk Meeting at the Sentry Center in New York City on Thursday, May 10, 2012.  Featured speakers include business leaders, economists, and forecasting analysts discussing the short-term economic situation on a region by region basis in North America for the rest of the 2012 calendar year.  They will focus on hot spots, booming regions, and the global economic power bases.  It is a wonderful event that spotlights major international trade and investment opportunities in today’s business arena.

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The fourth annual Americas Competitiveness Forum is happening right now in Atlanta, Georgia. Representatives from countries all over the Americas will be there to give updates about their country and region and brainstorm improvements for export collaboration across borders. This event has over 1,000 participants including government officials, educators, trade experts, and business leaders and is the foremost economic and commercial event in the Western hemisphere. Its main focus is on the competitiveness of companies within the region and trade facilitation and border clearance. There are numerous of different topics that will be discussed but the four main themes of the conference are:

  1. Innovation and green technologies
  2. Education and workforce development
  3. Entrepreneurship and small business development
  4. Trade facilitation, border clearance and supply chain logistics

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Government, business, and academic leaders are coming together this week from throughout the Western Hemisphere to discuss the pursuit of competitiveness and innovation in the Americas. These distinguished representatives will discuss trends, ideas, and best methods that have been utilized to stimulate economic activity in the region. The Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) is being held in Atlanta, Georgia and will be hosted by United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. This week’s blog series will dig deeper into the goals of this conference as well as analyzing the state of competitiveness in businesses around the world. 

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