globalEDGE Blog - By Tag: united-states

A free trade agreement (FTA) is a treaty between two or more countries that reduces trade barriers and encourages transparent trading and investing among member countries. Consistently, free trade agreements have benefited United States exporters by making foreign markets more accessible and by creating a more stable and transparent trade environment. In 2012, nearly half of US goods exports went to FTA partner countries and the US manufacturing sector alone realized a $59.7 billion trade surplus. Currently, the United States has 14 free trade agreements in place with 20 countries and is in the process of negotiating two additional FTAs.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are being used more and more in U.S. and U.K. military operations, where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult. Drones are making their way into everyday use as technology gets more sophisticated and regulators loosen restrictions on the usage of these unmanned aircraft vehicles. In the last month, over ten incidents have occurred where drones have interfered with a commercial flight in airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration has attempted to outlaw or limit commercial use of drones, but experts believe there are better ways to regulate usage in a safe manner.

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Leaders from almost 50 African countries and the United States met in Washington DC on Monday, kicking off a three day conference that hopes to boost trade between the US and the largely untapped African continent. The summit highlights the realization by many US officials that greater attention needs to be paid to African countries who hold great economic potential. Leaders at the summit expect many trade and business deals to be signed during the three day conference, with some estimating that over $1 billion worth of deals will be announced by Wednesday. With these deals in hand, US African trade relationships could increase greatly in the coming years.

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Alibaba is a Chinese corporation that operates as a bank, marketplace and a search engine. The company is the largest online retailer in the world, handling 80% of all online retail sales in China. The company handled more money in transactions last year than Amazon and eBay put together. It’s made up of three major websites that have millions of users all over the world. The three main sites are Alibaba.com, Taobao, and Tmall.  Taobao is a shopping website that gives seven million merchants a place to sell, and Tmall is a retail site where major businesses such as Apple and Nike are able to sell products directly to Chinese shoppers. Alibaba does not currently have a date listed for its IPO, but it is expected to go public in early August. It will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Over the years, Vietnam has been consistently at battle with the United States over the trade of catfish. The country’s ability to export catfish for a lesser price has made them a top exporter and caused the domestic industry to contract by 60% in the last decade. With local catfish farmers losing money, a so called war was waged starting in 2008 with the introduction of a catfish inspection program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And although the program has yet to go into effect, numerous Pacific exporters are already protesting its introduction.

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On Monday, June 2nd, the Obama administration announced through the EPA that new rules have been put into effect to reduce carbon pollution by coal and power plants by 30% by 2030. This is a historic occasion, as it marks the first time that the United States government has acted to try and regulate power plant emissions. The new rules have been met with high praise by many environmental groups and activists. However, debate has sparked over the potential economic impact of these rules. While concerns have been voiced over the effects on the coal and energy industries, many economists are also claiming these rules will lead to an overall positive outcome for the U.S. and the world. Here is a closer look.

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File under: United States, Canada, Economy

For the first fiscal quarter of 2014, Canada will outpace the U.S. in GDP growth. Although the U.S. markets picked up after a rough winter, GDP growth is still set to decline by 0.5% according to the Globe and Mail. Meanwhile, Canada saw GDP growth of 1.7% in the first quarter, and although this is down from 2.9% in the previous quarter, GDP growth is still healthier than that of the U.S.

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For many corporations in the US, having to pay the high corporate tax rate is a problem worth avoiding. In order for these companies to avoid having to pay these taxes, they are reporting profits under the holdings of offshore subsidiaries. There is a lot of speculation that if companies could bring the money back over to the US, it would stimulate the economy and help the United States. In order for this to become reality though, the current tax rate would have to be much lower. There is in fact some myth to this. In order for the money to be considered "offshore" on the financial statements, the money simply has to be under a foreign subsidiary, even if it is invested in a bank in the US like a lot of companies' profit currently is. This allows them to avoid having to pay the US corporate tax rate on their offshore profits, while still having the money accessible in the US.

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Negotiations on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) heated up over the past week during President Obama’s visit to Asia, although no major breakthroughs in the talks were announced. The negotiations slowed down during the President’s visit to Japan, as talks between the United States and Japan focused on the auto industry; the two countries have long had a rivalry in the auto sector.  Japanese car companies entered and ended the Big Three’s dominance of the US market during the 1970s. This tension has continued today, influencing the trade discussions and preventing the countries from reaching a deal during last week’s negotiations.

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As Russia prepares to make Crimea part of Russia, other countries have watched from afar and have developed plans to impose economic sanctions on Russia. Government officials from the United States have already signed an order enabling economic sanctions against sectors of the Russian economy. Leaders from the European Union are also considering their options as they meet in Brussels to discuss economic sanctions against Russia. With economic sanctions on Russia looming, the impact on Russia and the global economy remains to be seen.

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On February 19th, President Barack Obama flew to Mexico to meet with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, approximately twenty years after the three nations had signed NAFTA. The goal of the Toluca summit was to attempt to reduce trade frictions and come to agreement on trade conflicts between these countries. Issues discussed included Obama's trade executive order, the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, the "trusted traveler" program, updating NAFTA, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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In his 2010 State of the Union address, United States President Barack Obama announced the US National Export Initiative to improve conditions affecting exporting in the private sector. Obama hoped to double exports by 2014. This would include working to remove trade barriers abroad, help firms and farmers enter new markets, and help with financing. Since the initiative was announced, over a million export-supported jobs have been created and exports have increased by over fifty percent. In 2012, US exports set a record reaching $2.2 trillion, which was 13.9% of overall GDP.

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a trade agreement between twelve countries, including China, Japan, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. This agreement, if ratified, would eliminate almost all trade barriers between these twelve countries, uniting them in the largest free-trade zone in world history. The problem is, it doesn't seem to be getting approved anytime soon; talks that occurred just last week in Singapore ended with the countries reaching no finalized agreement that would put the TPP into effect. As the partnership has been undergoing negotiation talks for years, it is wondered how much longer it will take for the countries to cooperate on certain final issues and establish the partnership.

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Is it possible to predict the number of medals each country will win in the Winter Olympics by using a combination of economic indicators?  Without economics, predicting the winners would involve an extensive amount of knowledge on numerous sports and athletes. By using an economic model, one does not need extensive knowledge about each sport. In a recent study, Madeleine Andreff and Wladimir Andreff tried to predict the number of medals a country could win in the Winter Olympics by using economics.

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In December of 2013 the Federal Reserve (FED) announced that it would begin to taper its bond-buying program by $10 million per month. As a result of quantitative easing (QE), the FED had been purchasing $85 million in assets in order to stimulate the economy. As the Federal Reserve continues to reduce its monthly purchases, there will be certain effects on globalization. Since tapering was announced, emerging market economies have been struggling. As the FED continues to taper, emerging markets could continue to see and outflow of funds and fluctuations in their currencies.

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Forecasts from the World Bank show that the global economy should experience more growth in 2014 than what was expected seven months ago, showing that the world’s economy is finally turning a corner from the recession of recent years. According to a report released on January 14th, the world’s economy should grow by 3.2%, up from the 3% projection made in June. This is good news to many investors and business people around the world, since it is the first time in three years that the World Bank has revised their forecast and predicted improvement.

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In December of 2013, American Airlines and US Airways have completed their long awaited merger to create the world’s largest airline. Earlier in 2013, the merger was blocked by the United States Justice Department due to concerns that the merger would adversely affect competition in the airline industry of the United States. In order to reach a settlement, American Airlines and US Airways agreed to give up several hundred gates at airports across the United States. Now the companies expect to save over one billion dollars in synergy with the merger. This merger will undoubtedly have a variety of effects on the global airline industry.

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As the Eurozone Crisis has progressed and European Union countries have continued to struggle to devalue their currencies, with the goal of making exports less expensive for importing markets, many countries are now adopting "Americanized" labor policies of dismantling workplace protections to reduce labor costs. In Portugal, the 1.9 million workers that were protected by collective bargaining agreements have now diminished to merely 300,000, while Spain has agreed to ease restrictions on collective layoffs and unfair dismissal. The motive for these actions, as encouraged by the German government, European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund, is to restore competitiveness, increase employment, and recover solvency.

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering Michigan food companies multiple opportunities to exhibit within Michigan Pavilions at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. The shows offer businesses a unique, helpful, and affordable way to showcase products under the Michigan name, known globally for outstanding quality. In previous years, over $600,000 in actual sales were reported with $3 million in anticipated sales!

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In a world with a clearly-defined gap between developed, larger countries and small countries categorized by political turmoil and radical militant groups, it is difficult to recognize the growth of peace and stability. United States based companies often view currently developing countries as risks due to economic instability. Nevertheless, these low-to-middle income countries are increasingly becoming more stable and present the potential to be beneficial business associates.

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While most Americans view cities such as New York, Los Angeles, or Miami as truly global cities with a wide variety of different cultures, foreign businesses, and spoken languages, a recently released resource titled "Mapping the Nation" reveals that often over-looked cities and counties throughout the United States actually contain more global connections than one would expect. Presented by the Asia Society, Longview Foundation, and SAS Institution, this resources contains data from over 3,000 counties in all 50 states regarding how globally connected Americans are to the greater international system with regards to economic, demographic, and educational factors.

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Recent financial figures have shown that several countries around the globe have experienced some of their lowest inflation rates in years. Normally this would be the goal of the nations' central banks, but in the economic states of these regions, this low inflation could be the source of several problems. Now the issue facing many of the world's richest nations is to avoid extremely low inflation and to try and raise prices. The proposed processes to achieve these goals have the potential to lead to some intense competition.

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It’s not too early to start planning for 2014! The 2014 year holds an extensive list of Food Export Association activities, programs, and services to help exporters of Michigan food and agricultural products begin or expand their international sales. They provide educational programs, export promotions, customized export assistance, market entry support, and a cost-share funding program. The 2014 Food Export Activity Calendar includes the dates, locations, and other details about buyers’ missions, seminars, focused trade missions, and more!

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Since 1999, the music industry has experienced years of decline and for those who care about the industry, the past decade has been nothing short of a nightmare. With piracy increasing and record sales diminishing, many were worried that the music industry would never recover. However, recent reports from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shed rays of hope for the music industry. According to these reports, for the first time in 14 years, the global music industry experienced slight growth in trade revenues—increasing by 0.2 percent in 2012. Perhaps better news is that revenues are on pace to grow yet again this year in 2013. Could this signal that the global music industry has finally turned the corner and is poised to experience a new day & age of growth and profits?

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Australia foreign policy debate has begun to take focus on two of the largest economies: The United States, a century long ally, and China a major trading partner. As China’s economy continues to grow and its need for natural resources increases, Australia will need to find a way to manage and balance its relationship between the two rival countries.

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During the globalEDGE Blog’s first five years, it has served the international business community not only as a resource for global business news analyses, but also as a time capsule for events that significantly influenced international markets. Born in September 2008, the resounding news of the blog’s launching was understandingly dwarfed by other major events of the time, such as the rapid spread of cell phone use and business in Sub-Saharan Africa and, of course, the global financial crisis that’s effect on the global economy was comparable only to the Great Depression. In this blog, we will not only go back and revisit the news that captivated the world’s attention in the first months of the blog, but will also discuss the lasting effects of those events and how they continue to impact the world in 2013.

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Usually unrest in the Middle East translates into booming gas prices for American drivers, but so far the Syrian conflict has had little to no effect on US gas prices.  Slight increases, as of late, in average gas prices nationwide have been attributed to Labor Day weekend and its tendency to induce higher prices at the gas pump.  An increase in the number of fuel efficient cars on the road and a push for sustainable oil consumption are all contributing factors that have kept gas prices in check.

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Economic bubbles have been a reoccurring economic cycle in the world throughout the history of capitalism. Recent economic bubbles that the world has experienced include dot-com/telecom, real estate, stocks, and biotech bubbles. They date back to the 1880’s when the first railroad tracks were laid down in the United States. The goal was to connect the United States through economic integration and development, which created a boom in the development of canals, turnpikes, railroads, and telephone lines. Many of these projects were funded by the government, and now green technology projects are funded by them as well. Globally, governments are beginning to promote green technologies through loans and subsidies. The rapid growth the world has seen in green technology could be the start of the next big economic bubble.

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Exports continue to help grow and expand Michigan’s food and agriculture economy, while generating nearly $2.8 billion in economic activity with support from the nation’s second most diverse agriculture industry, strong public and private investment, and a diversified portfolio for food processing. Exports of consumer food products are growing three times faster than sales in the United States due to the foreign consumers’ growing purchasing power and lower trade barriers. Thus, exporting is vital to Michigan companies as an opportunity to increase sales and profits, as 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Moreover, food and agriculture producers can reduce dependence on existing domestic markets, and off-set slow sales due to economic changes, demands, and cyclic fluctuations resulting in short and long-term security for Michigan.

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For decades, free trade has received major support in the increasingly globalized market. of today. To account for the economic effects of free trade, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has caught the attention of economists and has become one of the most important components of measuring the economy. Since the Great Recession in 2008, most countries, especially the United States, have been experiencing a huge decline in FDI. However, in certain parts of America, we may see a much needed comeback of foreign investments in the next two years.

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Harnessing the energy in shale has created a boom in the markets with enough momentum to alter the global energy industry altogether.  The controversial drilling technique involves fracturing shale formations using water, sand, and other (undisclosed) chemicals to access natural gas.  Entrepreneurial potential coupled with technological innovations from both the public- and private-sectors attract investment to either resource rich regions or competitive hedging projects for returns.

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Last week, the City of Detroit became the largest city to file for bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The once vibrant city, whose roots came from automobiles and music, fell-victim to its financial situation, which includes between $18 to $20 billion in debt. Along with a large amount of debt, Detroit has encountered problems with underfunded pensions, diminishing population, and poor public services. As a result of the bankruptcy, Detroit could experience large legal fees and cuts in its public services and bondholders will be left with pennies on the dollar. Is Detroit just the tip of the iceberg for cities that may file for bankruptcy?

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International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Tuesday that the shale oil recently found in the United States will help meet most of the world's oil demand in the next five years. It is significant to the world market as well as to the U.S. itself because it eliminates the threat of future energy shortage and reshapes the U.S energy market and its relationship with other countries.

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Japan is the world’s third largest economy and the United States is the largest economy in the world ranked by GDP. But, these two huge economies do not have a free trade agreement, which strikes the question – why not? Obviously, there are a lot of reasons why these two great nations have not struck a deal yet, but one could be on the horizon.

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No matter where you are in the world, the sustainability of almost every economy depends on one critical idea. Young and highly educated workers must be able to fill the void created by an aging population leaving the workforce. In the competitive global economic landscape of today, even highly developed countries cannot afford to slide into downward educational trends. One can obtain great foresight into the future outlook of the global economy by simply comparing international education across industrialized economies. This analysis leads to the discovery of many surprising revelations about the future setting of the global economy.

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This year the spring slowdown in manufacturing may slow down more than anticipated. Following disappointing results in the manufacturing activity and industrial production worldwide, analysts are saying that with the already weak economies in China, Germany, and the United States, the slowdown could impact more than just spring. Germany has had a trend in weaker manufacturing activity, and the U.S. has been introduced to sequestration due to its weak trend in the industry. If China, Germany and the United States can’t find a way to power their manufacturing activity this slowdown could have global effects.  

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A few months ago, Zheng wrote a blog post about a possible Trans-Atlantic trade agreement. Recently, talks have been heating up between the United States and the European Union with negotiations on a trade deal likely to begin by the end of June. The free trade agreement, if passed, would remove tariffs and reduce other barriers to trade, spurring economic growth, exports and job creation for both parties. Given the stagnant state of the global economy, there is much excitement over a potential deal and optimism is high that an accord will be reached.

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For the most part, my pennies spend most of their time collecting dust in either the bottom of my wallet or in the cup holders in my car. Apparently Canada, among other countries like Australia, Brazil and Sweden, has had enough with the cumbersome coins as well. As of February of 2013, Canada officially ceased distributing pennies, considering the cost of manufacturing them is even more than the worth of the penny. Should the United States and the U.K. follow in Canada’s footsteps and eliminate the penny?

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As China becomes the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States, more investors are becoming interested in its stock market to seek profits. However, things are not that easy in the stock market, China’s stock market has just experienced a deep dive recently due to government intervention in the property market.

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File under: United States, Arkansas, Oil

Controversies surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline have arisen yet again due to the pipeline rupture that occurred in Arkansas suburbs just last week. Over 12 thousand barrels of heavy crude oil flowed into a residential neighborhood, rendering about 24 families homeless during the evacuation. Even though an around-the-clock cleanup began last Saturday, what will this mean for Pegasus pipeline, run by Exxon Mobil? And also, how will the leak affect public opinion regarding the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline?

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Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy is brutally honest. In a story filled with corruption, anger, and even laughter, LeDuff goes into detail about the crumbling of an American city, and what is left of it. After leaving a job with the New York Times, LeDuff comes to find what was once a city that represented the American Dream, now rotting and broken.

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Despite looming budget cuts that sequestration has promised for the United States, investors seem unconcerned, considering the record-breaking levels the Dow reached just last week. With help from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, propping up the market, the Dow reached 14,286.37 last Tuesday to break the previous record of 14,198.10 from October of 2007. Although this is exciting news for investors and publicly traded companies, there are several concerns resounding with this new, record-breaking high.

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Out of the millions of businesses in the United States, only about 1.5 percent of these companies sell their products internationally. Furthermore, over half of these businesses exported to only one foreign market. So what can be done to increase U.S. exports? Doug Barry of the U.S. Commercial Service has the answer. In his book, Exporters! The Wit and Wisdom of Small Business Owners Who Sell Globally, Doug Barry shares 26 success stories from small companies in the United States who made the leap of faith in selling their products abroad. These companies started from small beginnings and now make products for customers throughout the world.

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The shale-gas industry is flourishing in the United States and West African crude oil exporters are being negatively impacted.  Because of the “U.S. shale-gas revolution”, crude oil exports from Angola, Algeria, and Nigeria to the United States have fallen by over 40%.  Thus far, this has led to a decrease in overall crude oil exports from these three countries; however, the increase in supply of sweet crude oil has led existing buyers to increase their purchases and allowed new buyers to enter the market.

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What seemed unthinkable just a half decade ago is now reality. The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest fuel producer. Crude output in the U.S. has hit a 20 year high and has produced the most fuel in the world for the first time since 2002. The United States is producing 11.65 million barrels of liquid fuel a day (which includes crude, refined petroleum products, and biofuels) surpassing the Saudi Arabian output of 11.25 million barrels a day.

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While "made in China" products become wide-spread in the U.S and China-U.S trade continues to grow, the trade between the European Union (EU) and the U.S is actually the driving force behind world trade figures. Indeed, the EU-U.S trade is the largest trade in the world and comprises one-third of all trade, determining the shape of the global economy. Now, the debt crisis in Europe and the desire for American growth are pushing both sides to consider knocking down the barriers to trade. A trans-Atlantic trade talk is underway.

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The lackluster global economy is now going on its fifth year and new information suggests that it is still a series of ebbs and flows. Economists’ predictions about the United States’ fourth quarter growth was off by over a percent and the U.S. experienced a contraction of the economy for the first time in a few years. The unemployment rate ticked up .1% to 7.9%, not the kind of news a recovering economy wants.

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It is no secret that America tops the list of fattest nations. In fact, it is one of the largest stereotypes facing the people of the United States. Yet for the first time, competition has emerged from other nations like Mexico, New Zealand, and Chile and it may even be due to U.S. markets. Both fast food and drug markets are spreading globally, and consequently, so is obesity. With obesity, of course, come related health issues, especially diabetes, which is where the pharmaceutical companies swoop in to save the day while churning out incredible profits.

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Globalization has provided the world economy with an enormous amount of wealth and expansion since it first began in the 1970’s. It slowly progressed throughout the 1980’s up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to a doubling of the global free-market labor force. Since then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed from 800 in 1979 to over 13,000 by 2007. The era of financial globalization went into effect in 2003, when financial services accounted for 30% of stock market earnings. For the past 3 to 5 years though, we have seen a different trend in globalization and the free flow of capital across borders.

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With the 2014 deadline set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, franchising consultants are starting to turn their attention toward the prospective market. Besides fast-food chains, there are not many American franchises in Afghanistan, but that may soon change as RadioShack begins to establish ties in the region. Other franchises are following suit, despite depressing property values, capital flight, and other economic woes. The promise among tech-savvy Afghan businessmen may facilitate economic growth, stability, and employment in the suffering region.

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The last few blogs here on globalEDGE have not been too optimistic and may make one think that the world may indeed end in December (as the Mayans allegedly predict). This blog will not be much more optimistic. However, instead of just talking about recessions, this will explore some of repercussions or causes that are being observed right now. Specifically, this will explore the potential permanent change in the financial services industry.

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As a current college student, I always find myself interested in the huge investment that many students are making in college. This is especially more interesting to me as many nations are experiencing rising unemployment rates and many college students are returning home to live with mom and dad according to a Pew study. Further, the Federal Reserve of the United States just released new data on the debt levels that college students and graduates have accumulated. While this is a problem that is mostly unique to the United States, the European Union and many Asian countries currently subsidize higher education. Therefore all countries should pay attention to this as the subsidies may run out in the near future.

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Just about two weeks ago it was reported that Hewlett-Packard had to write down somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.8 billion, stemming from an acquisition of a United Kingdom based software company, Autonomy. Accounting improprieties within the acquired company seem to be at the heart of the issue and HP claims the fraudulent numbers account for over 5 billion of the write down. Two of the “Big Four” accounting firms were brought in to perform due diligence for the deal but the inconsistencies still managed to slip through. This is an extremely public example that calls into question the different accounting standards practiced in different countries and how those should be reconciled.

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The customer is always right. This golden rule of business even resonates with giant corporations—the consumers are the main priority, because without their support, revenue will stop pouring in. For example, if the consumer wants businesses closer to home, that’s what they’re going to get.  The distance problem has initiated a recent trend in outsourcing that can be seen in countries all over the world, most recently India and the United States.

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After an exhaustive Tuesday night of speculation and predictions, Barack Obama managed to hold his position as the President of the United States for another four years. Foreign support for the President rained in on Wednesday through countless newspaper headlines, and it became apparent that allied nations have a tall order for the reelected President. They expect him to start his term off with a strong foreign policy with hopes to quell the global debt crisis and help boost emerging markets.

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International trade is a very important aspect of the world’s economy in the globalized business climate of today. Less than one percent of all United States businesses export and according to research, the main reason for not exporting is the lack of confidence in selecting the best market for U.S. products. To help solve this issue, the U.S. International Trade Administration has published a book titled Free Trade Agreements: 20 Ways to Grow Your Business available for download on iTunes.

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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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When the financial crisis hit the world in the fall of 2008 most sectors of the economy came crashing down with it. International trade was no different, and by some measures the decline was more pronounced. When world GDP began to contract and hit its bottom in 2009, exports dropped nearly 30%. One would expect a certain amount of withdrawal when a crisis of this magnitude hit but with such a huge drop off the question arises what other factors could have played in? The answer is not as simple as it may seem.

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With the global economy in a slump, there are many industries that are suffering. You do not have to look very far to find news about spending cuts, job loss, and shrinking sales within many sectors. One industry that has managed to escape the blunt of these issues is the automotive industry. A recent report found that auto sales in the United States were the highest in four years, many other countries around the world are experiencing success. Many experts are beginning to ask: is this the beginning of the next big boom for the global auto industry?

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One of the most public dramas that has played out in the downturn of the economy has been the manufacturing sector's struggles. Data released earlier this week shows reason for cautious optimism in the United States. For nearly the first time in four months, manufacturing grew within the United States. While the U.S. welcomes even the smallest improvement, other regions did not fare as well. Both China and the Eurozone continue to see the manufacturing sector of their economy contract.

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While most news headlines involving Mexico revolve around drug cartels, illegal immigration, and law enforcement, economists are noticing a new story south of the border. Trade between the United States and Mexico has been surging recently, including a 17 percent increase to a record level of $461 billion (USD) in 2011. Mexico is currently competing with China for the title of America's second-largest trading partner following Canada, and the Mexican economy became the top investment destination for the aerospace industry this year. Mexico's middle class, which is quickly growing to be the country's majority, has been responsible for much of the trade with the U.S. since they are buying record levels of American goods.

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While the United States has made great strides to increase its exports in the last several years, there is still a lot of untapped potential for more growth abroad. There are already several ways to get government assistance when exporting. All 50 states have Export Assistance Centers that aid US companies who are new to exporting. These centers help companies get in touch with overseas suppliers as well as potential customers abroad along with walking them through the entire exporting process. Still, some argue that more needs to be done to increase US exports.

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In China, the domestic economy is struggling just like the rest of the world with slow sales and declining construction. The cost of labor has also increased drastically, with wage rates increasing upwards of 15% in some cases, year over year. Compared to May of last year though, exports have increased 15.3 percent, twice as fast as economists had predicted. How are Chinese companies finding success when Europe is in a debt crisis and the United States is still recovering from rampant unemployment though? Easy – exporting and automation.

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Earlier this month a report from The Brookings Institution was released with some useful data. The data, while slightly obvious, came to the conclusion that the majority of our cities and metro areas are the factories of our nations export output. Some of the notable data points include:

- 100 metro areas generated 84% of U.S. exports in 2010
- Exports increased 11% in 2010, the fastest increase since 1997
- Jobs supported by exports rose 6% in 2010, while the overall economy lost jobs during 2010.

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To compete in the global economy, a country’s workforce must be knowledgeable, well-trained, and understand the complexities as well as the benefits created by globalization. It’s true that accomplishing these objectives is easier said than done but in our hands lies a great tool to assist us with these goals—and this great tool is simply education. Just as globalization has changed business around the world, it is also changing education. A common trend in higher education policy is the internationalization of education to help students live, work, and be successful in today’s interconnected global economy.

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Around the world many small businesses are beginning to take advantage of global opportunities by exporting their products abroad and finding new markets in different countries. With many opportunities to find business partners overseas, finding the right path to take may prove to be a difficult task. However in the United States, there are many government export promotion programs that assist small to medium sized firms succeed and find the right opportunities in these new markets. One program in particular is the International Trade Administration. Doug Barry of the Trade Information Center and the U.S. Commercial Service recently sat down with a technology company from Maryland to discuss the benefits it gained from using export assistance programs.

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Work-life balance has always been a priority for employees, but not all workplaces have given it the same respect. The amount of vacation time and the number of hours employees are required to work in a week vary greatly across the world. Much of this is a result of cultural differences and tradition, but it also can greatly affect the productivity and happiness of workers. Overworked and unhappy employees can be extremely unproductive. There are many theories and methods for improving morale, but one of the simplest ones is limiting the amount of time employees are working. Sounds simple right? For many employers, it hasn’t been so easy.

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The US Commercial Service is hosting a webinar to highlight the new opportunities and positive outcomes from the recent free trade agreement with Korea. The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement took effect earlier this month on March 15th and has provided many new business and trade possibilities. Billions of dollars in tariffs are expected to be eliminated due to this new agreement. It is estimated that up to 95% of bilateral trade with Korea will be duty free within the next 5 years. This will benefit a wide variety of industries: agriculture, services, financial services, and more!

This webinar, which will detail more specific benefits, will be held on April 12th from 2-3pm EST and does require a $15 fee along with registration. To find out more information and details about the webinar, please visit the export.gov website. Here you will also find information on how to register for the webinar event!

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As economic globalization continues to make foreign markets more accessible, opportunities for small businesses to export abroad remain on the rise. In response to the ongoing global recession, the United States federal government has recognized the importance of small business owners, and the crucial aspect they play in a successful economy. Stemming from the government’s National Export Initiative, many small businesses have stepped out of American markets and found success through exporting abroad, such as the Patton Electronics Company.

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Over the past years, free trade agreements have proven to be one of the most effective ways to open up foreign markets for businesses looking to export overseas. Trade agreements help reduce barriers for these businesses and eliminate costly tariffs on imports. The creation of more transparent trading promoted by free trade agreements also contributes to an easier environment for the exporting of goods and services. This past week, the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into full force, creating many opportunities for increased trade between the two countries.

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As globalization increases, small businesses are gaining many opportunities to export their products overseas. However, less than two percent of all United States companies export to foreign markets. With the National Export Initiative, the United States plans to turn this surprising fact around and double U.S. exports within the upcoming years. Small businesses can play a crucial role in helping the United States accomplish its exporting goals. In fact, some small businesses in the United States have already found success in markets abroad.

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With the National Export Initiative, the United States is seeking to double exports by the end of 2014. However, the typical United States manufacturing exporter sells to less than five buyers in overseas markets. Many people may assume that the responsibility of meeting the ambitious export goal lies in the hands of large businesses and corporations in America. While partially true, there are other businesses in the United States that are already stepping up to the challenge. These businesses are the small businesses all over the country that are being driven by entrepreneurship, creativity, and hard work.

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With many concerns and debates regarding climate change, countries around the world are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions. These carbon emissions happen to be the leading cause of climate change and large coal-burning industries are mostly responsible. One way to reduce these harmful emissions involves a new technology that captures carbon dioxide from the air and pumps it directly underground for permanent storage. This project was operated in Germany, Scotland, and the United States with little success. However, the two largest consumers of carbon dioxide, China and the United States, are investigating a new way to reduce carbon output and are looking toward a surprising industry for this solution.

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With the United States setting a goal to double exports in the next four years, small businesses play a very important role in accomplishing this mission. The National Export Initiative, the official title of this export growth objective, has a website designed to help small businesses export products to new markets and attain business growth abroad. Doug Barry of the U.S. Department of Commerce is an expert in exporting strategy for small businesses and has helped many small businesses accomplish their exporting goals. Last week, we posted a blog about an interview with Doug Barry where he explains how a small bio-business used international markets to achieve remarkable levels of business growth. This week, Doug Barry has conducted additional interviews where he shares his small business expertise and knowledge.

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For small businesses, exporting products to new markets may appear unattainable.  With assistance from partners such as the U.S. Commercial Service, business leaders with minimal international experience can soon learn the basics of exporting.  This can be an enormous opportunity for business growth, attainable without unnecessary levels of risk.  Jim Blasingame of “The Small Business Advocate” recently sat down with Doug Barry, the Director of Marketing and Communication for the U.S. Commercial Service, to discuss such a success story.  One small bio-business used international markets to quickly achieve levels of wealth that otherwise would have seemed impossible. 

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This past week, the United States passed a trio of free trade agreements removing trade barriers with the countries of Panama, South Korea, and Colombia. The free trade agreements will have many impacts on international trade tendencies between these countries as the pacts will essentially eliminate tariffs faced by exporters in all four countries. Exports of each country are expected to rise as a result of the agreements and many businesses small or large will be able to compete in new markets abroad. The trade relationships between each country will dramatically change as the new trade agreements mark the biggest opportunity for exporting businesses in decades.

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File under: United States, France, China, Energy

Three months after Japan’s largest earthquake, a major nuclear reactor disaster seems to have been avoided. However, major doubts surrounding nuclear energy as a safe power source remain in countries around the world. If these doubts linger, the energy industry can be changed dramatically with this significant loss of faith in nuclear energy. Alternative energy sources must be able to replace nuclear energy and many countries will have to develop efficient and sustainable infrastructures to support this energy change.

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Exciting news! The United States Trade and Development Agency, in coordination with the U.S.-Egypt Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Egyptian Embassy and the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, will be hosting a two-day forum on June 27-28 to encourage enhanced trade and sustainable economic development in Egypt. This conference, being held this year in Washington D.C., will provide an unprecedented opportunity to foster increased cooperation and trade between the United States and Egypt by encouraging business-to-business networking and highlighting commercial opportunities and financing resources.

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With its close proximity to Canada and Mexico, most United States exporters export to only one market and unsurprisingly this market is usually Canada. However, many smaller companies that work with the U.S. Commercial Service have found other great markets filled many new customers. Some of the best markets with countless opportunities for U.S. companies are Vietnam, India, Indonesia, India, China, Taiwan and Thailand. You can learn more about these markets by watching these videos on India, Indonesia, and Vietnam posted on the Export.gov website. With these videos, you will learn about some of the many sectors in these markets where U.S. companies are competitive. In the videos, you will also be introduced to the top U.S. commercial diplomats in these markets who will help your company evaluate and enter exciting new markets.

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Over a quarter million small businesses in the United States export their products and services to other countries around the world. By doing so these businesses increase their revenues, broaden and diversify their customer base, and provide jobs for their local communities. The United States has set a goal to double exports by 2014 in order to support the addition of two million jobs for the American workforce and encourage economic growth. To reach this goal and help small businesses further increase their exports, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration have released a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool.

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Pecans have long been a steady source of income for farmers in the United States.  Southern farmers produce two-thirds of the world’s supply and U.S. consumers have been the main source of their business.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the current price of $2.14 per pound for pecans is nearly twice as high as three years ago.  What has caused this sharp spike and what does the future hold for the pecan industry? 

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Over the last 100 years, transportation has taken some significant leaps.  With the invention of the car and its proliferation to countries around the world, individuals were empowered to go where they wanted, when they wanted.  However, as the boundaries of distance decreased with an increase in vehicle quality and reliability, so did the world’s desire to travel even further and at greater speeds.  The latest potential advance in human transportation is the proliferation of high-speed rail.

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Qatar has said it is looking at spending $100 billion as it is currently trying to revamp its infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.  In response to the government of Qatar’s request, the United States government is sponsoring a trade mission to Qatar in June this year.  The country has been growing rapidly and is looking to build multiple new stadiums to host the event.  The growth potential in this country and for this trip is phenomenal.

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For just about as long as any living person can remember, Bollywood and Hollywood have both been producing movies and been dominating their respective countries and audiences.  As far as Bollywood goes, many people in the U.S. view this burgeoning industry as a distant neighbor (although Bollywood was created 11 years before Hollywood, in the 19th century no less) of our hallowed Hollywood. In some sad cases people think it is just a misspelling of Hollywood.  With both Hollywood and Bollywood having already survived over a century each and the massive trend towards globalization, most people would think the similarities between the two would be great.  In actuality, the difference is vast.

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A recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau highlights the U.S. Trade deficit for 2010. This report is very straight-forward and shows the change in the trade balance throughout the years. As most everybody knows, the U.S. has been running a large trade deficit (i.e. they have been importing more then they export) for several years now. The report gives us a good starting point to understand where the deficit is coming from and some of the reasons behind it.

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After the official unpegging of the Renminbi (Also referred to as the yuan) to the dollar mid-way through last year, China has surprisingly started to increase the flexibility of the Renminbi and is actively encouraging the globalization of the currency.  Much of this change has come for two reasons. The first is as China has become the world’s second largest domestic economy, the need for a globalized currency becomes exponentially more important. Also, international pressures on the Renminbi and China, especially from the U.S., have started to force change.

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In Kabul, Afghanistan the United States established the new American Chamber and named Dom LaVigne as its first executive director this past November. Dom LaVigne, former executive director of the American Chambers of Commerce in Singapore and Malaysia, recently sat down with International Trade Specialist Doug Barry to discuss the many opportunities for business in Kabul.

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File under: Culture, United States, China

The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting piece for their “The Saturday Essay” this past week. It reflected on the cultural differences in parenting styles; written from the perspective of Amy Chua – a Chinese mother who is also a professor at Yale Law School. While it is written to contrast mostly American parents, I believe (and so does the author) that the article can be viewed from a completely global perspective.

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There are many markets for U.S. goods in the Middle East and North Africa but the largest single market happens to be relatively new. Formed in the 1970s, the United Arab Emirates is the largest single market for U.S. goods in the region and the 19th largest market globally. The United Arab Emirates is a federation composed of seven states located on the Arabian peninsula. As new, large-scale infrastructure projects continue to develop, this market will remain a prominent source of opportunities for United States exporters.

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A few weeks ago, President Obama discussed progress made on an important goal of the United States. Over the next five years, the American economy is looking to double its exports and support the creation of many new American jobs. The first step of this process began with the implementation of the new U.S. export control system in August of 2010. Now, President Obama’s Administration is deploying its Export Control Reform Initiative webpage at export.gov. This website has helped the United States make remarkable gains on its plan to double national exports.

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As we kick off our International Flower Market blog series at globalEDGE this week, I thought I should do a brief article talking about the history of flowers, specifically from an economic perspective. This is pretty intriguing because as a commodity flowers have no intrinsic, economic value. They just have value as decoration and whatever other cultural values are placed on them. That being said, the flower market is currently a $32.5 billion industry. Looks like flowers are much more than just a hobby for retirees.

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Wondering where to go next? The answer is easy, Korea. Approaching the top ten largest economies in the world, it is often overlooked because of its physical distance and the close proximity of its big brothers China and Japan. In fact, Korea has recently doubled its GDP and its imports from the United States. So while recent news may be bringing adverse attention to Korea, it is starting to bring to the spotlight an economy that is growing and is expected to soon become a major economic partner of the United States.

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The Wall Street Journal brought together CEOs of 100 major corporations to discuss their thoughts on recent economic challenges. During the meeting in Washington D.C., CEOs argued that the only way to increase jobs in the United States is to embrace increased global trading relationships. This plan would necessitate government and business leaders to work together and promote free-trade agreements that would open doors to international markets.

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By supporting India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, President Barack Obama positioned the United States for a long-term political and economic partnership with the emerging Asian nation. While much focus has been put on the political alignment of the United States and India against their rivals in China and Pakistan, there are also great opportunities for business partnerships to emerge. As is often the case, strengthened political ties may lead to strengthened economic ties as well.

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Just recently, on November 8, 2010, gold reached its non-inflation adjusted high of $1,400 per ounce. As shown in this chart by Kitco, gold has been increasing at a very rapid pace in the past year. This has prompted many investors to say that gold could potentially be the next “bubble,” or a security that has a huge increase in price only to suddenly “pop” and decrease rapidly in price. However, there is evidence to contradict these fears, especially in the U.S. bond markets.

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Despite the tendency to think otherwise, it is possible for businesses of any size to have a successful strategy centered on exporting products overseas. While many entrepreneurs and small business owners may believe that they cannot possibly develop a successful international business strategy due to a lack of knowledge about foreign customers, poor foreign language skills, or size constraints, experts in the field of international business would urge them to push those doubts aside. 

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If you watched the news recently, you would have probably noticed a huge event happening in Chile. In case you haven’t heard, 33 miners went to work in the San Jose Mine (used for the mining of raw copper) for what was supposed to be a ten hour shift. The roof of the mine ended up collapsing on them. Fortunately, after spending 69 days underground, all of the miners have been rescued from their earthen prison safe and sound. Now that this saga has finished its final chapter, perhaps the greatest impact experts in the Mining, Minerals, and Metals industry hope it has was best summed up by Alonso Contreras (a cousin of one of the trapped miners): “Hopefully no one ever again has to do anything like this.”

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Many small business owners in the United States struggle to successfully export products to global markets. Without expertise in dealing with international markets, it may be challenging to develop a business plan that is well-suited for customers around the world. Doug Barry of the Trade Information Center at the United States Department of Commerce recently interviewed one man who set an example for other small business leaders to follow.

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The United States has long been known as a global powerhouse when it comes to innovation – especially when it comes to manufacturing. These innovations may not necessarily be products (although some certainly were) but, rather, just tweaks to the manufacturing process that greatly improved efficiency (think of interchangeable parts or the assembly line, both developed by Americans). However, in today’s global economy, the United States is losing jobs in the industrial manufacturing sector, despite still being on the forefront of innovation. Many claim that this is simply because of the lower wages required in other countries, but is that the only reason why?

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In a challenging economic environment, young professionals and recent graduates across the globe are forced to think of new ways to enter the workforce.

In the United States, some are taking an entrepreneurial approach. These entrepreneurs recognize that what they are doing on the side can create revenue – running a website out of their home or offering social media marketing consultation – and can be performed anywhere in the world with anyone, at any time. They toss the security of a paycheck and good benefits at a place that is now considered a boring place to work.

In the United Kingdom, graduates are trying to fill their resumes. They are encouraged to find a market shortage and then gain the skills to fill the gap.

In China, the story is different. The economic future looks (arguably) optimistic – China boasts more than 10% growth on average. The problem is that China is providing more than 6 million college graduates a year and the economy is not producing the number of jobs demanded by the graduates. The video below is a great 6 minute documentary on the issue, especially for international students traveling to China to broaden their interests and expand their resume.

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Last week I had a unique opportunity to hear the Korean Ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-soo, speak at a luncheon in East Lansing, Michigan. The event was sponsored by the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan. The ambassador has been traveling to various locations throughout the Midwest to tout the benefits of passing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Korea. Currently, the agreement has been tabled by Congress due to other higher priority matters.

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It can be done! Creating jobs back home while increasing sales overseas is possible and United Solar Ovonic has proved it. United Solar Ovonic is a Michigan based company that creates and exports solar panels and has recently begun a joint venture with United Solar Ovonic Jinneng in China. They develop lightweight, flexible solar panels. They are great, not to mention green, energy producers so it’s no wonder that this business has been booming.

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In February 2009, the U.S.-Peru trade promotion agreement (TPA) went into effect. The TPA has had some exciting effects for many U.S. companies. Doug Barry of the U.S. Commercial Service interviewed John Simmons, the Department of Commerce’s senior commercial officer in Lima, about how the TPA is helping U.S. businesses.

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Recently Jim Glasingame of The Small Business Advocate talked with Doug Barry of the US Commercial Service about the US National Export Initiative. The United States has announced that they want to double the number of exports as well as increase jobs at home. The reality is that a lot of US companies do not export as well as they could, or to as many places as they could. Research shows that most companies that actually do participate in exporting only export to one country. There are so many opportunities all around the world that businesses are not taking advantage of.

Luckily, the US Commercial Service is willing to help businesses. They have offices in countries all over the world and are passionate about helping businesses expand internationally. Want more information? Go to export.gov or listen to this interview here!
 

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We all need vegetables in our diets, but many people also base their entire business off of these healthy foods. Research from the University of Massachusetts shows that the United States vegetable industry is beginning to be heavily influenced by other regions. This is good news for farmers all over the world. Supermarkets and restaurants are looking to expand their markets by offering more exotic options. Areas like Africa, Asia and Latin America produce several exotic vegetables that the United States has started to take interest in. This could help smaller countries who are heavily dependant on agriculture and are looking to increase their exports.

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This week is National Small Business Week in the United States! This yearly tradition began in 1963 and has continued ever since. Its objective is to recognize how small businesses contribute to the growth of America. This year’s Small Business Week conference began Sunday and just finished up today. Some of the topics discussed at this year’s conference were ‘turning innovation into jobs’, ‘taking your business global’, and ‘social media and small businesses’.

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What do Michigan and China have in common?  They are both involved in the production of a triple junction amorphous crystalline solar cell. In layman’s terms, solar energy.  These roof-mounted solar cells will generate much more electricity than silicon because of it is lightweight and flexible structure which holds up more efficiently in real-world conditions.

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Poultry farmers all over the globe are running into serious problems with the waste from chickens, which is real trouble when it gets into the water supply. Years back John Logan, a farmer from Prentiss, Mississippi, noticed the same problem. In an interview with NPR radio he recalled, "I said, 'I got to do something.' I can't be putting this on the ground. Now, I have a river right here. What's to happen when that phosphorus overload washes into the river, which then ends up in the Gulf of Mexico?"

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Just over six years ago, a “state of the art” free trade agreement (FTA) was signed between the United States and Chile. Since that time, a nearly perfect model of bilateral trade has ensued. In fact, the projected growth between the two countries was between 18% and 52%. Would you believe that the actual growth over this period is over 345%?! Free trade agreements have often been a source of debate because of the potential environmental and human rights impacts they have had in the past. How has this FTA impacted each country?

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Stores Magazine provides the Top 250 Global Retailers list made in 2010 using revenues from 2008. The combination of great marketing, good customer service, and the ability to reach multiple demographics, has shaped these companies into the successful international businesses they are today:

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Now-a-days, students have the opportunity to study in numerous countries. Each year, thousands of students travel abroad to enhance their academic and cultural experiences. Open Doors Institute of International Education’s 2009 International Educational Exchange was released on November 16th. It included everything from leading destinations and primary sources of funding to regions and popular fields of study.

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Poultry has been traded globally for years. Each individual country can not possibly produce everything it needs, making this trade a necessity. Of course, that does not mean that there hasn't been any problems. There are several past examples of poultry trade gone wrong, but as a result standards are higher, making trading less of a risk.

In 2004, China and the United States had a major rift in their chicken trades and there has been tension ever since. The initial problems were a result of the bird flu outbreaks. Following that, both countries temporarily banned the trade of poultry from one another. Soon after, China lifted their ban, but it was another two years before the U.S. followed suit. Around the same time, Thailand chicken exports were suffering because several countries refused to buy their chicken because of past outbreaks, even after the products have been inspected and deemed safe. It seems that there will always be tension over poultry trade.

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As the Trade North America Conference continues, it is important to understand the nuances of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which make the implementation of NAFTA’s goals possible. One of the largest barriers to getting the agreement passed, and which still creates issues today are the legal issues surrounding the agreement, as well as how it deals with the differing legal systems of each of the countries involved.

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Jamal Qureshi never imagined the success he would have when he immigrated to the United States a few years ago from his native city of Bhopal, India. Now he is doing business in the same city he grew up in, just from the opposite end of the world. Qureshi is the CEO of JQ American in Hayward, California, an exporter of products and services in the energy, medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. The unique part of JQ American is that they sell to a whopping 16 countries, while most small and medium sized U.S. firms only export to one international market. So how was all this possible?

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File under: United States, China, Trade

A recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has those in the U.S. entertainment industry rejoicing. The ruling would force China to open the channels of distribution to free enterprise. This means that those from the U.S. in the entertainment business will be have their work distributed in a manner which should yield more profits. The ruling will play a major role in the complex relationship between China and the U.S. entertainment industry.

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Sadly, this is the final chapter in our China and America blog series. We hope you enjoyed learning the many different aspects that make the U.S.-China relationship one of the most important in this day and age for the current global business climate. This especially holds true for the energy sector.

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China has three main goals it weighs when considering where to invest its vast sums of money. Those goals are “safety, liquidity, and profitability - in that order.” For many years, the result of this strategy has been to invest heavily in U.S. Treasury notes. As the Middle Kingdom’s coffers began to fill with dollar-denominated debt, the financial well-being of the entire nation began to be increasingly tied to the strength of the U.S. dollar. So it should not come as a surprise that declines in dollar value that have occurred in recent years have been met with consternation by the Chinese.

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File under: United States, Peru, Free Trade

U.S. and Peruvian exporters received good news last February, when a new trade promotion agreement between the countries took effect. The agreement has a number of upsides for both countries, such as the fact that 80% of U.S. goods exported to Peru now enter duty-free.

Check out this interview from the International Trade Administration for more details on how your business can take advantage of the agreement.

You can also learn about other trade agreements with Latin America in this interview from the Small Business Advocate

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File under: United States, Investment

Solutions to this economic mess may seem to necessitate complex plans, but a deceptively simple old visa program is starting to garner growing attention as a means to lift especially troubled areas of the U.S. out of their economic woes.

It works like this: immigrants invest $500,000 in a new or struggling business via an approved regional center, get green cards for their families, don't have to manage day-to-day issues with the businesses, and get to pull their money out after 2 years if they pass an audit. Sounds good?

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Passport requirements have been a complicated issue for travelers in North America. Starting June 1, 2009, new travel requirements will be implemented by the USA which will consequently have an effect on Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and 17 nations in the Caribbean region. The WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the USA by land or sea. As of 2007 these requirements have been in effect for air travel. Because of a friendly border crossing agreement, the Canada Border Services does not require U.S. citizens to present a passport when driving to Canada. This agreement used to be mutual, however the USA wants to strengthen border security and standardize travel documentation.

These new regulations will have a tremendous economic effect on the involved nations. Canada will feel the change more strongly than the USA since a bigger percentage of Canadians have passports compared to Americans. The changes will not affect business travel as much as leisure trips. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal are among some of the most visited places in Canada. Furthermore, the summer is a popular period for many who live close to the border to go on camping trips in Canada. During the summer of 2009, however, there will probably be a huge decrease in travel. The WHTI is expected to lower U.S. travel receipts by close to $800 million (compared to data from five years ago) in the two years following full implementation. Furthermore, according to a report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada, U.S. travel to Canada is expected to fall by approximately 3.2 million trips and the Canada-USA trips by 7.4 million. This report however was prepared at a time when the world was not facing a financial crisis. Consequently, it is now expected that travel would fall by even bigger numbers.   

Tourism in North America will most likely face a not so profitable season this summer while travelers try to find their way through the confusion of new travel documents.

 

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I am a huge fan of pretty much everything that Monocle publishes. They are always on the cutting edge, whether the topic is public affairs, business, or even culture and design. Recently they partnered with UK Trade & Investment to produce a series of videos on the business climate in different sectors and countries around the world. So far the topics have been: Doha, Boston, UK Creative Sector, UK Motorsport, London, São Paulo, Guangzhou, and Sofia. 

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The world is still in a financial crisis and it is highly unlikely that it will be over soon. Many nations still blame the problem on CEOs in the United States. After the government bailed many banks out, people ask what is happening to that money. Is it really put into good use or do banks keep on lending more? Everyone knows that the problem is that consumers and businesses are facing huge debts, but it doesn’t seem that CEOs are taking any responsibility.

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File under: United States, Japan

The average Frenchman works about 18 hours per week, the average Italian – close to 17. Even Europe’s biggest workaholics – the British – don’t work as much as Americans (21 hrs a week for the average British compared to 25 for the average American). Europeans have been astonished by the amount of time Americans are willing to spend in the office -  how can Americans not want to take off a whole month in the summer to go on a vacation? Well, workers in Japan are even more extreme when it comes to work. If you are thinking about getting a job in Japan – think again! Japanese workers are known to work about 12 hours a day! Yes, you can leave at 5.30pm when the day is over but you might get many bewildered and disapproving looks.

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Lists are interesting creatures - some find them informative while others simply disregard them. The 2nd annual list of the top 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. is an interesting follow-up to the recent Global Entrepreneurship Series on our blog. The list is a comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy - America's independent-minded entrepreneurs. Taken as a whole, these companies represent the backbone of the U.S. economy.

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As the executives of the Big 3 in Detroit - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - fly in their private jets to Washington in order to ask for public funds, they should consider this: a bail-out may not be the best way to revive the auto industry! The problems being faced by the Big 3 are not only a result of hard economic times, but also an inevitable conclusion of poor business practices. There are a number of things the auto industry must do to get itself back on track, and a check for $25 billion isn’t one of them. Such a measure will only prolong the inevitable collapse.

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File under: United States, Free Trade

Recently President Bush and heads of state from 11 other nations in the Western hemisphere met in New York to sign the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative. The agreement focuses on further cementing regional “trade and investment liberalization, social inclusion, development, rule of law, and democracy.” Although the agreement is largely symbolic at this point, talks are planned for the end of the year to discuss possible policy changes that can advance the goals of the initiative. In his formal announcement of the agreement, president Bush declared that the deal provided “a forum where leaders can work to ensure that the benefits of trade are broadly shared,” and expressed optimism that cooperation would enhance and strengthen the relations between all signatory nations.

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In the midst of a housing bubble, sub-prime mortgage crisis, an unpopular war, and the stock market steadily declining, it stands to reason that many Americans, nay, citizens of the world are worried about the future of the financial world. Our business world has been built on the "magic of the market" and "success of the fittest," which provided the booms throughout the century that shaped the contemporary market. However, in an article by Breitbart, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argues, the global economic crisis is a result of the "comprehensive failure of extreme capitalism."

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For many years Americans looked at Europe as a place for vacation and not as a place for economic innovation. However, recent events have proved them wrong – Europeans have proven themselves better at solving financial problems.

Many Europeans feel very triumphant now as Leon Brittan, who served as Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher and was a top official at the European Commission, says that "There’s no doubt that it was a British plan that was copied by the U.S." As the financial crisis deepened, Europeans came up with a bailout plan that has set up the pace for Washington. This was clear when the Treasury Department decided to depart from its own bailout plan and invest up to $250 billion in banks across the United States. And that outcome left Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in something of a commanding position to claim the title of wise men.

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Forget the change of socks; business travelers may need to pack a change of laptop. 

In mid-July 2008, United States Customs and Border Protection passed the “Policy Regarding Border Search of Information” concerning the search of information contained in documents and electronic devices.  The Policy sets forth the legal and policy guidelines within which officers may search, review, retain and share certain information possessed by individuals crossing the United States border.  The policy applies to anyone entering the country – citizens and noncitizens alike.

What does this mean for international business people?

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File under: United States, India, Energy

President Bush achieved one of his top legislative priorities Wednesday, but the magnitude of the occasion may have been obscured by other news. What I’m referring to, of course, is the US-India civilian nuclear agreement.

The nuclear deal is the culmination of an initial joint statement between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which was signed in 2006. For the past two years President Bush and Prime Minister Singh have trudged through domestic opposition, international hurdles, and legal bureaucracy to produce a finalized agreement. The pact allows full nuclear cooperation between the United States and India, as well as opening up the Indian market to US nuclear technology suppliers. The necessity of the seal of approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group also makes it a de facto recognition of India’s status as a legitimate nuclear power, despite their abstinence from the NPT.

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Animal friendly products or the new thing on the market? Salads that are on a blue table or salads on a red table? Loaf of bread or sliced up bread? Cheese slices wrapped in plastic or not?

Dutch lab researchers try to figure out what people eat and how to influence their habits. They study the influences on eating in order to be able to find ways to make products more appealing and to direct consumers to healthier choices.

The $4.5 million Restaurant of the Future is run by scientists of Wageningen University and Research Center, working with Sodexo, an international catering firm, and the Noldus software company, to answer questions from the food industry and behaviorists.

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The credit crisis that has been a major issue in the United States lately has spread fear through European governments as they saw the need to step in with a flurry of major bank bailouts in different countries from Iceland to Germany. The governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have been taking partial control of some of their national banks. Furthermore, the government of Iceland seized control of Glitnir bank – the third largest in the country. However, these rapid bailouts are not making banks in Europe feel more secure as they keep on refusing to lend to each other money for all but the shortest periods of time. Meanwhile, shares are falling heavily and the money markets remain frozen.

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Think that the United States being in financial limbo has no repercussions on the rest of the world? You’d be thinking wrong. In Nigeria, financial authorities have attempted to construct strong fiscal measures in an attempt to extricate the country’s stock market in the wake of the collapse of major U.S. financial institutions. Nigeria’s two chief government-operated financial policymakers, The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission have announced new policy measures they plan to enact in order to prevent this hemorrhage of assets in the Nigerian capital market. The plan includes measures set forth by the Central Bank such as reducing the Monetary Policy Rate, reducing the Cash Reserve Ratio, and reducing the Liquidity Ratio. Following three years of spiraling growth and high returns, the Nigerian market is now seeing prices crashing beneath initial quotation.

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Never before has the American auto industry witnessed such a myriad of harmful factors that came about with the swiftness and magnitude of the present situation. The credit crunch, soaring gas prices, and an unprecedented collapse in demand for large trucks and SUVs all tangled together to create a perfect storm. The already ailing automakers are now struggling to cope with an 11% slide in U.S. sales so far this year. In the rest of the world, auto sales are either growing or experiencing a much more modest drop. Yet the financial collapse and rising oil costs are worldwide phenomena. So what makes the U.S. so much different?

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File under: United States, France

Ask an American about French business practices, and you’ll probably hear about short work weeks, massive amounts of vacation time, and the penchant to go on strike every month or so. On a more social level, you might hear about free college, free healthcare, and rock-solid job security, but the average American might carefully note that this comes at the cost of sky-high taxes, layers upon layers of bureaucracy, and continually high unemployment.

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