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China remains the market with the most potential for U.S. exporters, according to the 2018 Market Potential Index (MPI) by the International Business Center in the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. Hong Kong and India are second and third in this year’s ranking.

The top three spots in the 2018 ranking remain unchanged from the 2017 rankings, with China keeping the overall top spot for the fifth year in a row. Singapore moved up from the sixth spot into the fourth spot on the strength of its strong commercial infrastructure and high levels of market receptivity.

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International trade and policy experts have made strong arguments that the worldwide economic downturn a decade ago (2008-2009) was due to the inadequacies in the rules that we need to have globally for a stable and prosperous economy. The carryover effect to today, some 10 years later, is potentially worrisome in the long term, some economists suggest.

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This is the third post in a three-part series featuring our blog competition winners from Michigan State University. The author of today's post is Pujitha Kasipuram.

What is CSR

Corporate social responsibility is not a new term, as it originated back in the 1930’s where a firm tends to focus on mainly profits and private interests. According to Norine Kenney who is a part the U.S Council on International Business, “there is no solid definition of CSR; however, it is not a replacement for the governmental role and responsibility in meeting challenges of sustainable development.” This states that there is not one definition of CSR nor it substitutes the responsibility of a government. In fact, corporate social responsibility can be evaluated in many directions such as providing good working conditions to employees or how it can relate to globalization in three ways: environmental, economic, and social. With globalization and CSR, it is believed that there should be equal access to all three resources, but is this necessarily true? Since the government is not fully responsible to enforce for such issues, how can corporations be held accountable that are engaging in ethical practices? Corporate Social Responsibility varies by region, by country, and by group. It is a broad topic to discuss, but increasingly becoming important for consumers.

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This is the second post in a three-part series featuring our blog competition winners from Michigan State University. The author of today's post is Xiyou Xu.

The emergence of cryptocurrencies has shaken up the economic establishments around the world. In fact, the phenomenon of such virtual currencies is thoroughly studied by the economists to understand how they impact the global financial system. As a result, such cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been examined regarding contrast to existing physical alternatives, and various experts have responded to its uprising.

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This is the first post in a three-part series featuring our blog competition winners from Michigan State University. The author of today's post is Lauren Kuiper.

What does value mean to you? There are many ways to perceive value based on the company you are dealing with. For most companies, value is the foundation of the business. If the company cannot get the customer to see the value in their product or service, they will essentially fail. They need their customers and employees to believe in their product or service in order for them to be successful. For international companies, this is even more important. When operating internationally, there are many factors that go into creating value within the company. Marketing 310, an international business class that I am currently in, has helped me to understand how important creating value is for international companies because they are dealing with a wider range of customers. This post will discuss some examples of international companies who have been successful based off of their value creation and the different techniques they use.

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Online streaming services are spreading all around the world and are eating away from the traditional cable service. With access to the internet around the world becoming easier as ever and subscription prices to video streaming services dropping every year, there is no reason why online video streaming companies will soon be the norm around the world. Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO NOW are some of the common names that fall under the streaming bucket in the US. However, we now see some of these companies begin to dominate also in international markets as both Netflix and Amazon are now present in more than 190 countries, which represents 97% of the global market.

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There is no doubt that companies are leaping into new international markets. There are benefits when going global and expanding including greater revenue potential, access to new talent, exposure to foreign investment opportunities, and much more. Below you will find a few important steps companies have to execute in order to enter into new international markets.

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business.

Technology is an ever-increasing field, especially in today’s world.  The advancements we are currently experiencing are greater than the entirety of society’s past.  By 2020, the amount of information available via digital gateways will grow from the current five zettabytes to 50 zettabytes (in perspective, one zettabyte is equal to 10^12th gigabytes, or over 15 billion flash drives).  Subsequently, for almost all global actions, there are digital footprints left behind—every Google search in China, use of a Nest home system in the United States, or activation of a trending smartphone app in South Africa leaves behind data and information.  Enter, big data.

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This is the first post in a five-part blog series focused on future trends in business. 

In this weeks blog series, we plan on outlining the future of international business by taking a look at the trends of automation, sustainability, marketing, big data, and blockchain. As the fourth industrial revolution transpires, we are to expect variation with how we interact with technological devices and with how these devices communicate with one another.

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globalEDGE offers a number of indices on our country pages.  Topics of these indices range from the level of innovation performance of a country to an index that ranks countries based on the price of a McDonald’s Big Mac in different countries.

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International e-commerce are commercial transactions that happen over the internet which involve people or businesses located in different countries.  In the modern world, many consumers now shop online and there are a plethora of opportunities available to market to a potential online international customer.   

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We’ve been hearing the words “Cultural Intelligence” everywhere we go lately. So what is cultural intelligence and why is it so important to global businesses?

Cultural intelligence is the ability for people, organizations, and businesses to relate to culturally diverse situations and work effectively in them. It is a vital aspect to international businesses because every country they are based in requires a different cultural approach and the ability to get well with the consumers you are working with. Global collaboration has become a significant aspect for the success of businesses and this cannot occur if businesses do not have the resources, knowledge, and talents of cultural IQ.

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At the current rates of progress towards closing the gender gap around the world, it would take Western Europe 61 years to close their gender gap, Eastern Europe and Central Asia 128, the Middle East and North Africa 157, East Asia and the Pacific 161, and North America 168 years. Some of the world’s largest economies are the farthest away from gender parity. At a time when countries have closed an average of 85% of their gaps in educational attainment, one may wonder why progress towards gender parity has slowed down. The answer is rooted in cultures that are unique to every country, but more prominently in gender-based stereotypes that are common across nations and hurt not only industries but entire economies.

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A Hope in the Hollers

Trade and trade agreements are blamed by many people for a decline in good paying jobs, wage stagnation, and other ills.  There’s a widespread belief that globalization and its corporate and multinational organization enablers have handed right-wing nativist groups a club with which to bash free market liberalism, a philosophy that has prevailed since the end of the World War II.

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We are almost a decade away from the 2008-09 financial crisis, and economies around the world are still expanding, almost in unison. In 2017, the world saw improvements in the labor market, positive trade growth, and rising stock markets. All of this positive data came in the midst of political turmoil across the globe including unrest in the South China sea - which is an important trade route.

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Late last year Russia and OPEC agreed to extend their agreement to decrease oil production until the end of 2018.  Russia, OPEC, and other major oil-producing countries agreed to reduce their oil production in 2017 in an attempt to decrease the global supply of oil and in turn increase the price of oil.  An extension was signed in advance of the previous deal ending in this coming March.  The original cut in oil production was in response to falling oil prices.  After declining for the previous few years, 2017 saw rising oil prices worldwide, due in large part to the agreement limiting oil that OPEC and other countries enacted last year.  West Texas Intermediate saw crude oil prices rise from $43.33 per barrel in 2016 to $50.56 per barrel in 2017. 

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As the 2018 Winter Olympic Games transcends upon us, it is an interesting time to research the Olympics business model and gain an understanding of their past successes and cloudy future

When Budapest, a frontrunner to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games dropped out of the running, an unofficial signal was shown to the Olympic Committee that changes need to be made for the current Olympics business model. The reason being, “to avoid a loss of international prestige” as said by parliament leader, Lajos Kosa. On top of this, the 2022 Olympic Winter Games bids came down to two prospective bidders. Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China.  This was due to a fair amount of potential cities failing to compete for an Olympic bid. Events like this make the rest of the world wonder, what is happening to the prestige of the Olympics?

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Days are growing shorter, the temperature is dropping and families are beginning to dig their snow boots out of storage. Winter is fast approaching which means the lucrative ski market will begin to rise again worldwide. In America alone, the winter sports industry is valued at approximately 12 billion dollars and is expected to grow in the upcoming decades. However, many people are beginning to grow weary of the industry due to the looming idea of climate change.

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According to The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence in the United States has increased three points, rising to 129.5 from 126.2 in October.  Consumer confidence has been steadily increasing over the past five months, and is now the highest American consumer confidence rate posted in the past 17 years.  Americans are becoming increasingly confident in their finances, and spending even more as we come into this year’s holiday season.  During the second quarter of 2017, consumer spending in the United States has increased by 3.3% to $11.8 trillion.  This rise in consumer spending is noteworthy, considering consumer spending makes up almost 70% of GDP.  Two-thirds of this spending is on services, almost one-fourth is on nondurable goods, while the rest is spent on durable goods.

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Business dislikes uncertainty, and there’s plenty of it now in the Gulf of Arabia region.  In case you missed it, a coalition of Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia are making life difficult for Qatar because of its alleged support of terrorist groups.  Qatar has hotly denied the charges, accusing coalition members of ganging up and attempting a takeover of the tiny sheikdom, which currently hosts 10,000 U.S. troops who are fighting the terrorists Qatar is accused of harboring and funding. 

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E-commerce is a major component of almost every business that sells goods in the modern world, some even call e-commerce the key to a successful business.  E-commerce is defined as transacting or facilitating business over the internet. With the internet growing exponentially over the last two decades many people now look to it for a more convenient avenue to shop and do business over.  People can now do everything from paying their bills online to buying groceries and getting them delivered to their home.  With the tremendous growth in the potential for e-commerce, many companies have taken advantage of the increased opportunities for revenue. 

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This is the third post in a five-part blog series focused on International Education Week.

Advancements in technology have led to the world being more interconnected than ever before. Today we are a mere click away from being face to face with our counterparty, who could be halfway across the world. This interconnectedness has had an incalculable effect on society, both from a social and business perspective. It is now impossible to live in the silo on one’s home nation without being impacted by the events or people of other countries.

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Inflation is a huge problem for many economies worldwide.   In countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Ukraine the average consumer has been largely affected by the inflation currently occurring.  A basic definition of inflation is when the currency used in a country experiencing inflation buys fewer goods, the purchasing power decreases.  This is often bad for consumers, especially in countries experiencing very high inflation rates because they are not paid enough to compensate for the rising cost of goods and services.

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Many companies seek growth opportunities through integrating either vertically or horizontally with other companies. Vertical integration is a strategy where companies expand their business into their production chain (backward integration) or distribution path (forward integration), and these are generally achieved by M&A or internal growth. While horizontal integration is when a company acquires or merges with another company on the same level of the value chain, in other words, a competitor.

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#BeurreGate, which translates to “Butter Gate”, has been trending across France as consumers are finding the butter shelves at their local supermarkets empty. Many of these social media posts have been satirical in nature including false advertisements with absurd prices and even a short film, which depicts a post-apocalyptic France that has descended into anarchy without access to the national staple. While the true situation is not nearly as dire, French consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to purchase butter at their local supermarket.

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This year, the International Air Transport Association anticipates four billion people will engage in global travel. By the year 2036, it is expected to nearly double to 7.8 billion—half of which will solely be from people living in Asia. High rates of international travel indicate economic well-being, and increased globalization will continue to drive demand. Areas experiencing a spike in international travel will benefit from the influx of money from tourism, but not without enduring the consequences of expansion.

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Universities play a central part in initiating and facilitating global learning. The Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs) were developed to help provide guidance and tools for competitiveness in an international environment. There are seventeen CIBER schools established across the United States, Michigan State University being one of them.

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently published their Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018.  According to the WEF, the Global Competitiveness Index assesses the competitiveness of the landscape of 137 country’s economies and it provides unique insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.  There are twelve pillars of competitiveness used to sort and rank each country’s economy.  The twelve pillars are as follows: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.  Each of these pillars is used to measure a different part of a country’s economy’s competitiveness.

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A business reaching international audiences depends on idea sharing and connectivity for its continued success. Today, social media is increasing audience engagement even further. In fact, the key to a successful social media strategy is effective engagement. With social media's importance continuing to rise, understanding the key concepts will help give your business an edge in this increasingly connected climate. Following is a complete and global guide to navigating social media strategy.

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Blockchain is a platform where transactions are recorded.  It is an open source available for all parties involved. Participants in each transaction generally have their own ledger; however, Blockchain serves as a shared ledger. It eliminates the need for intermediaries in transactions and reduces the paper process, increasing efficiencies and lowering costs. Blockchain is known for being a platform on which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies trade, however, it is not limited to that.It can track all sorts of data in a structured format.

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The process of acquiring a second passport as means of citizenship is continuing to grow in popularity as more countries establish themselves in the industry. For passport owners, the return on investment ranges from increased access and establishment in new markets to owning luxurious homes in coastal regions. For participating countries, the potential for job creation or financial support is among the benefits. The trend has gained significant traction, climbing to what is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

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Venezuela's international standing has suffered in the wake of its controversial presidential election and constitutional assembly. Amidst allegations of vote manipulation and crackdowns on protests and opposition, Venezuela's electoral process and ensuing government scandals have faced condemnation from several international leaders. Foreign ministers of fellow Mercosur countries voted to indefinitely suspend Venezuela from the trade bloc. The United States levied sanctions on numerous Venezuelan officials, including the country's president, preventing them from doing business in or traveling to the U.S. Other nations have refused to recognize the election results. The international response will likely impact the already-suffering Venezuelan economy, which has declined sharply over the past few years.

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Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, released 30 brand new Model 3 electric vehicles to Tesla employees in Fremont, California on July 28. Tesla advertises the Model 3 as one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market, competing with fuel-efficient cars like the Hyundai Ioniq EV, Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3, and Nissan Leaf. While demand for the Model 3 is high—it has already gathered 50,000 advanced deposits—the vehicle’s mass-market accessibility is not as apparent. In comparison to Tesla’s Model S, which can be prepared for delivery in seven days, current customer orders for the Model 3 are expected to be ready within the next 12-18 months. What is the underlying cause of such a large disconnect between consumers and the product? The reason boils down to an exponential increase in production that connects directly to a supply chain that has “about 30 percent of its components coming from abroad.”

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There has been an increase in research on how studying and living abroad can affect one's performance at work. In a world more connected than ever before, employers are looking for applicants who can think critically and adapt to an evolving business environment. Experience abroad can help offer unique talking points during an interview, and it might offer the competitive edge that lands the job.

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As industry processes around the world become more digitized, businesses find themselves increasingly prone to vicious cyberattacks. In May, a ransomware attack named WannaCry infected software in over 150 countries, upsetting procedures in the technology, finance, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and communications industries. Although a security patch for WannaCry was issued and installed in several systems, it wasn't enough to prevent a separate ransomware attack called Petya, which spread in June and affected thousands of machines in over 65 countries. Virtual epidemics such as these, which have become quite frequent over the past year, can prove devastating to international business, causing technological destruction, operation disruption, and widespread theft of money and intellectual property.

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Have you ever tried streaming a show, watching a YouTube video, or downloading an album, only to discover that the media is unavailable due to your location? This common occurrence in the media and communications industry is known as geo-blocking. Platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and YouTube are entertainment services in which geo-blocking frequently occurs, due to the companies’ negotiations with studios. As media piracy has increased in recent years, studios are becoming more particular about which regions have access to on-demand streaming. Such precautions have been made in certain countries to increase incentive for purchase and to decrease illegal production of copyrighted material.

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A recent article by the Motley Fool analyzes why “the ‘big three’ cruise lines,” Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, saw increases of over 25% in their stock prices in the first half of 2017. The article suggests current trends in the hospitality and travel industry, such as “lower fuel prices, higher consumer spending in developed countries, and burgeoning travel demand among Asian tourists" as possible factors. However, the article also explores another trend in consumer purchasing patterns: “a penchant among millennials to spend their earnings on experiences instead of material products.”

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The globalEDGE team is pleased to announce new updates to our industry insight pages. In the introduction sections, we have added detailed visual breakdowns for each industry and have revised Primary Demand Drivers and Profitability Drivers with the most current information available. The related blog posts displayed at the bottom of the page now include include pictures for more visually-appealing previews. The corporations sections now more prominently display our special pie chart which shows which countries are the dominant players in each industry. Check out our updated industry pages today!

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Are you interested in learning more about market classification? globalEDGE’s Global Insights by Classification feature explores Emerging Markets, Frontier Markets, and Mature Markets. Each classification has its own page that includes a description of the market’s main characteristics, an interactive map of the countries in the market, and a table that provides insight to the market’s economic averages compared to least developed and most developed countries. The market pages also contain Statistics, a Risk Comparator, and Resources. Visit the Statistics section to compare the market's countries to each other using an interactive graph of data. The graph contains data about the economy, education, finance, the government, infrastructure, labor, people, and trade and investment.

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The Fifth International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Convention will take place Thursday, August 3rd through Saturday, August 5th, in Puebla, Mexico, along with the Latin American Coffee Summit. The mission of IWCA, which has 21 chapters around the world, is to empower women in the coffee industry who “face additional challenges due to gender inequality that often manifests itself into being excluded from training, education, and financing opportunities.” IWCA hosts events like the convention not only as a method to fund the non-profit organization, but also as an opportunity for women in the industry to network with each other, share their experiences, and gain valuable knowledge and skills.

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Forbes released the 2017 rankings for the World’s Biggest Public Companies, or the Global 2000, on Wednesday, May 24. Company rankings are composite scores determined by weighing sales, profits, assets, and market value. The United States contributes the most companies to the list with 565 members. China and Hong Kong supply the second largest with 263 companies. According to Forbes, “the world’s biggest companies have gotten bigger, more profitable and more valuable in the past year. 58 countries were represented, down from last year's 62 with Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Romania and Malta no longer boasting companies on the list.”

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On Wednesday, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report detailing trends in the renewable energy job market. Worldwide, renewable energy employed 9.8 million people last year, which is nearly twice as many compared to 2012. Wind jobs specifically grew by 28%. As global leaders, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, and the United States have the highest number of renewable jobs. Global energy job growth has slowed down in recent years following solar energy declines in Japan and Europe, but IRENA Director-General, Adnan Amin, predicted that by 2030, employment will triple to 24 million.

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Part three of our transport manufacturing blog series examines recent trends in the global film industry. 

In recent years, the global film industry has undergone major changes due to increased globalization and the overall growth of the middle class. In the past, two-thirds of box office revenue was generated by the United States alone, but this is no longer the case. Today, 70% of this revenue is generated outside of the U.S., and this is leading to major changes in the way that films are produced and distributed around the world.

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In part two of this week's leisure industry blog series, we look at current trends in the global recreation and tourism sector.

Recreation and tourism have become a fundamental fraction of economies worldwide. The outdoor industry has become a massive economic force, and it is happening in countries all around the world. According to a 2014 study, in the United States alone, an estimated of 29.7 billion dollars in economic activity and nearly 277,000 jobs came from the pockets of visitors at the national parks. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, stated in an article released in 2015 that "our national parks often serve as economic engines for local communities, drawing tourists from around the world who pump money into area stores, restaurants, hotels and more". Jewell also emphasized the importance of investing in the national parks across the country, stating that it not only preserves and supports communities, but it also promotes economic growth.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog is taking a look at the leisure industry. Each day, our blog series will explore different areas of the global leisure industry, which includes recreation, entertainment, sports, and tourism. Globally, the industry encompasses a wide variety of businesses and companies, from major hotel and resort companies with locations around the world to small mom and pop shops. With the many sectors and businesses, the industry has a major impact on many economies across the world.

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According to Kai-Fu Lee, the founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, robots are likely to replace 50% of all jobs in the next decades. Lee expects this to be the next revolution in the technology industry, even bigger than electricity, the industrial revolution, or internet. Lee has previously held high executive positions with companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft. When asked if humans will still have a role in the world with machines growing more intelligent, Lee responded that nothing can replace person-to-person social interactions, meaning there is hope for the service industry. Still, artificial intelligence (AI) has been impacting and will continue to impact all aspects of life as we know it.

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Just last month, the United Kingdom Parliament triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, officially commencing the necessary processes for leaving the European Union. The entire operation is expected to take two years, and the U.K. hopes to set up the structure for a positive international investment climate during that time. As part of this pursuit, Prime Minister Theresa May began a multiple-day visit to Saudi Arabia on April 4 to discuss trade deals between the two nations. Saudi Arabia and the U.K. have been prolific trading partners for years; the talks were intended not only to maintain this relationship, but also to discuss future developments in defense, security, and economic reform. May's visit has been criticized by various international leaders, who have cited Saudi Arabia's record on women's rights as well as the country's involvement in the current Yemen conflict. Worries abound both outside and within the U.K. government that the nation may be overlooking human rights concerns in favor of favorable trade deals.

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Some of the biggest names in business have made a statement when it comes to bridging the gender gap. Walmart, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Exxon-Mobile, General Mills, Campbell's Soup, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Mondoleez have all banded together and committed to sourcing more from women-owned businesses. Walmart has already achieved their goal of buying $20 billion worth of goods and services from women-owned businesses in the United States over the past five years. However, women-owned suppliers still make up only 2% of their global purchases. This group intends to make an impact by encouraging similar companies to realize the many benefits of supporting women-owned businesses.

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In recent years, the demand of expatriates has shifted from Westerners to expats from Asia. Many corporations in the West would send their employees to different countries for a short period of time to gain experience and transfer knowledge to their companies. However, companies in Asia are drawing attention due to their global economic success, resulting in an Eastern shift for expats.

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As winter vacations come to a close, the global workforce is underway again, and there are several questions business and corporate travelers have regarding their upcoming costs of travel and stay. Among the many factors, the future of international business travel remains uncertain due to the prolonged set back in the Chinese economy, the United Kingdom’s monumental vote to depart from the European Union, the controversial U.S. Presidential election, and increased security concerns across the globe. However, despite the uncertainties, global demand for air travel remains at a record high.

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Russia has been pushing to incorporate nuclear technology in medicine. This process, known as nuclear medicine, involves the use of radioactive substances producing dangerous radiations to gamma rays, beta particles, and alpha particles. Although it may be risky and unsafe, Russia’s increasing participation in the “international market for the production of medical isotopes” has brought tremendous success to the country in the means for fighting cancer.

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On December 15, the Japanese Diet passed a law to legalize casinos in the country, opening way for projects combining gambling with hotels, shopping, and conference spaces. The first proposal for this law was submitted in 2013, and again last year. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling party support the bill, claiming that casinos will stimulate the Japanese economy and increase tourism, opposition parties are critical. This bill had failed repeatedly in previous parliaments to come up for a vote due to concerns regarding gambling addiction and money laundering.

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Approximately two years ago, United States President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro proclaimed the official reestablishment of diplomatic relations between their nations. After decades of embittered disputes, economic sanctions, and general hostility, the two countries have come ever closer to bridging their differences. In the time since, Cuba and the United States reopened embassies on their respective mainlands and oversaw several other achievements: the expansion of aerial and naval transport between the two countries, the increase of agricultural sales to Cuba, and the augmentation of telecommunications services in Cuba. In addition, plenty of agreements involving business opportunities within the countries' private sectors are on the table, with the potential to take effect soon. Many of these efforts are taken up by the Cuba Working Group, a group of Congress lawmakers dedicated to legislating such advances. For the most part, the newfound ties between Cuba and the United States have been received positively on an international scale. The developments been praised domestically as well, as officials from both countries see the new diplomacy as a gradual establishment of democracy in Cuba. However, recent events have cast a shade of uncertainty, including the results of the United States presidential election and the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Now, citizens and leaders are pondering what comes next for the relationship between Cuba and the United States.

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In this installment of the globalEDGE Mega Trends in Business series, we take a look at how global businesses are responding to climate change. Day by day, governments the world over are increasing collaborative efforts against climate change by solidifying various international deals and agreements. With this, regulatory pressure is mounting on multinational companies to ensure that their practices meet environmentally-friendly standards. Several firms are answering the call and taking active stands against the threat of climate change, framing it as a business issue as well as an environmental one. Some corporations are forming coalitions across countries to reach a common consensus on necessary action. Others are shifting their business and investment practices in order to adapt to government legislation. Whatever the process, it is clear that climate change will be an unavoidable factor in future global business practices.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog is taking a look at long-term mega trends that will have a major impact on international business in the coming years. Today, the focus is on changes in demographics and society, and how these factors can influence business decisions. Being aware of demographic and social shifts is vital for businesses, especially those who are conducting business across international borders. Changes in population or consumer attitudes can force businesses to adapt, or risk losing their place in the industry. Because of this, many businesses are constantly looking to the future to try to get ahead of the trends before their competitors can.

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The Business Language Syllabi section of globalEDGE provides a number of language course syllabi focused on the business vocabulary for a given language. Syllabi are provided by a variety of community colleges and universities, and include languages such as Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. Take a look at this section if you are looking to further develop your business language course! Other International Business syllabi can be found on globalEDGE in the Course Syllabi and Community College Course Syllabi sections. 

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Second Shift: The Inside Story of the Keep GM Movement, looks at how Lansing, Michigan was able to save one of its auto plants from closing. Tomas Hult, professor and director of the International Business Center at Michigan State, co-authored the book along with David Hollister, Ray Tadgerson, and David Closs. The four authors recently gave a talk at Google, highlighting their research and perspectives on the efforts to save the General Motors plant from closing.

Check out the “Talks at Google” video here!

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Hacking is defined as using a computer to gain unauthorized access to data or information in a system. Often times the information is used for the financial gain of the hacker. Hackers have come to be a major drain on the global economy. It is estimated that for all of 2016 they will cost the global economy $445 billion. Data hackers have stolen information from many Fortune 500 companies, with one member of a major cyber security firm stating the all 500 Fortune 500 companies have been hacked. Small business are not safe from hackers either. Home Depot and Target are both international corporations that have had their information compromised after small third party company contractors were hacked, allowing the hackers access to the bigger companies' databases.

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globalEDGE provides a wealth of information on international business and a variety of interactive educational tools for use in the classroom or in executive training. One section that has been extensively used in a classroom setting is the Online Course Modules. The modules offer a structured way of viewing information pertaining international business through narrated slides. The modules cover several aspects of international business such as how to do business in several regions, importance of culture and ethics in conducting international business, the legal framework of international business, and a module series on exporting that has been produced in cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service. The modules also include quizzes, case studies, and references for further study.

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While globalization itself is not reversing, according to the Financial Times, it has “definitely lost its dynamism”. In September, trade was interrupted between Asia and the U.S. after South Korean shipping line, Hanjin, filed for bankruptcy. As a result, the company left several dozen of its cargo ships at sea. While it is not being noticed by most people, trade is no longer rising across the globe. Statisticians in the Netherlands found that the volume of global trade was flat in the first quarter, then fell by 0.8% in the second quarter. The total value of U.S. exports and imports fell by over $200 billion last year. So far this year, the amount of trade has fallen by an additional $470 billion. There are a variety of opinions on why the amount of global trade has fallen, but the International Monetary Fund concluded that is it due to the synchronized economic slowdown in both advanced and emerging markets.

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., a corporation based in Quebec, is currently in talks to sell Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a company that manufactures gastrointestinal drugs. Valeant originally acquired Salix in March 2015 for $14.5 billion. The purchase was part of a growth strategy of buying pharmaceutical businesses with reputable products and cutting their research costs to maximize profits. However, Valeant lost much stock value over the past year due to unethical business activities, including price hikes, unreliable accounting, and secret collusion. Recently, the company undertook major efforts to change its leadership, settle its legal suits, pay off its debts, and re-establish growth. Selling Salix could be instrumental to these plans; just this week, news of the potential sale increased Valeant's stock by 34%. While prospective clients have been mostly kept anonymous, Japan's Takeda Phamaceutical Co. Ltd. has expressed public interest.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog is taking a look at international marketing and its implications for businesses, in a five part series. For companies conducting business in several countries, a strong marketing strategy can be extremely beneficial, connecting the brand with ideas about the company, such as trust or innovation. An effective strategy can bring about cost savings and introduce competitive advantages, which can be crucial for a company attempting to move into new markets.

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Two of the world's most valuable technology companies, Facebook and Alphabet (by means of its subsidiary Google), are working with TE Subsea Communications (TE SubCom) and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC, a subsidiary of China Soft Power Technology) to construct the world's fastest trans-Pacific submarine cable. The 12,800 kilometer (8,000 miles) submarine cable will enable a speed of 120 Terabits per second and connect the United States and China by way of two major cities: Los Angeles and Hong Kong (where PLDC is based). The cable, known as the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), will utilize fiber-optic technology to create the fastest possible telecommunication channel, covering twice the speed of the current-fastest undersea cable. The goal of the PLCN is to increase bandwidth and reduce connection delays in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Google, the cable should be built and functioning by 2018.

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Second Shift captures the dynamic, collaborative management model that essentially saved a U.S. manufacturing city - Lansing, Michigan. The "Second Shift Model" has now been codified in a book and a documentary.

When car-making giant General Motors decided to close its plant in LansingMichigan, in 1996, one person – the city’s newly elected mayor, David Hollister – stood up and said “no.” Hollister’s “no” began a five-year competitive, collaborative, strategically intricate process to keep GM in town.

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In efforts to dominating the global mining industry, Canada has made tremendous attempts to promote mining overseas. With increased international mining initiatives, many Canadian corporations have been fueling their resources to expand globally. According to the Huffington Post, “Ontario-based Carube Copper said it acquired ‘over 500 square kilometers of the most prospective ground in Jamaica based on historic showings.’” 

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Want to see how much your know about international business? The globalEDGE Test Your Knowledge section offers two quizzes to test how well you know the world around you. The International Business Knowledge Quiz contains questions on a wide range of topics including demographics, trade agreements, business statistics, and geography. Our second quiz will test you on the capital cities of countries around the world. Click this link to check out our Test Your Knowledge section!

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For anyone conducting their business internationally, being aware of and understanding cultural differences is often essential for success. Issues such as directness, cultural values, and punctuality vary across countries, and expressions can have very different meanings in foreign cultures. By researching a country’s culture and customs first, you can impress and gain the respect of your international colleagues, helping to build relationships which will be crucial to the growth of your business in the new market.

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[This blog post is based on a presentation I gave in a business-academic panel “jam session” at the American Marketing Association Summer Educators’ Conference, August 6, 2016. The slides with charts and data can be downloaded here].

The strategic importance placed on leveraging global supply chains has seen an exponential increase in the last decade. The world is now connected in a cogwheel fashion, where all 195 countries leverage inbound and outbound elements of global supply chains, and what happens in one part of the world – seemingly far away from where you are – oftentimes has an effect on what you do, perhaps even as a bullwhip effect; that is, small changes in some parts of the world has large cause-effect relationships with other parts.

Tremendous inbound and outbound growth in supply chain traffic has been seen in Asia, with lots more inbound in the last decade than ever before. But, the idea of “supply chain management” is still driven by the U.S. and to some degree Europe. These global supply chains are important given that customers expect the world to become more globalized than the companies expect to have to deliver in the next 20 years. This mismatch needs to be solved.

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

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

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

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

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

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Want a quick way to compare data across multiple countries? The globalEDGE Comparator Tool offers an easy way to find labor, health, economic, and trade data for various countries, using data from the World Bank. Data fields include population, total tax rate, adult literacy, foreign direct investment, and more. The tools allows users to compare up to five data fields and twenty countries at once, in an easy to read format. Check out the Comparator Tool, a great way to gain more international business insights!

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This blog is about Second Shift: The Inside Story of the Keep GM Movement, a business trade book coauthored by Tomas Hult, Director of Michigan State University’s International Business Center, which is the developer of globalEDGE. The book was coauthored with David Hollister, Ray Tadgerson, and David Closs, and published by McGraw Hill Professional in 2016.

The Second Shift Model discussed in the book was “the dynamic, collaborative management model that saved a U.S. manufacturing city." When car-making giant General Motors decided to close its plant in Lansing, Michigan, in 1996, one person—the city’s newly elected mayor—stood up and said “no.” Initially, it was the cry of a man in the wilderness. Not once in its century-long history had GM reversed a decision to close a plant. But Mayor David Hollister quietly went to work building the ”Lansing Works! Keep GM!” movement and succeeded in defying all the odds.

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By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by 32%, but the working age population (ages 15-64) will have only expanded by 26%. Amongst the more advanced economies, by 2050, the working age population will have shrunk 26% in South Korea, 23% in both Germany and Italy, and 28% in Japan. India’s population is expected to grow by 33%, however Russia and China’s working population will contract by 21%.

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As the popularity of online shopping grows in India, China, Japan, and South Korea, e-commerce companies are predicted to spend about $6 to $8 billion in investments toward logistics, infrastructure, and warehousing over the next few years. E-commerce as a whole is growing exponentially, with the retail industry being the main contributor. The need for air cargo connectivity is expected to increase as tier two and tier three cities pick up business and the supply chain becomes more complex. Specific retail companies are also working to ensure that they can account for the highest amount of revenue in terms of e-commerce.

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The European Union is a political and economic union consisting of 28 European countries. Originally created in 1958 under the name European Economic Community (EEC), the group of countries strictly began as an economic union. However, over time, the EEC started expanding its work into political matters across Europe and, in 1993, the European Economic Community developed into the European Union. Great Britain, one of the countries in the European Union, is now debating on withdrawing its membership, known as a Brexit, and parting ways with the other European Union countries.

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A big topic in finance, and more specifically tax, is base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The BEPS project is a way to readjust the taxation of profits with the location of economic activities. The goal is to eliminate incidences of tax avoidance around the world once BEPS is implemented. The OECD, G20, and the United States are currently working together to recommend and propose policies to take place under BEPS.

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Most of us will spend large portions of our lives working, at businesses and companies producing many different goods or services. Attitudes about the workplace, work-life balance, and business can change drastically, depending on where you are and who you are talking to. One factor that accounts for many of these differences is age, especially comparing the so called millennial generation to its predecessors. Globally, millennials have different opinions about the workplace than older generations, generally being more open to new opportunities, expecting flexibility, and hoping for a more engaging work experience.

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There are many reasons that entrepreneurs choose to move their businesses across the world. Whether it be cost savings, favorable market conditions, geographic advantage, risk diversification, or competiveness, doing business in locations across the globe can prove to be extremely beneficial. Ultimately, this decision depends greatly on the specific needs of a business, which can sometimes be volatile. Here are five locations that are currently favorable for those looking to move their business abroad. 

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Following the loss of over $90 million from two banks, officials around the world are sounding the alarm on an integral part of the day to day operations in the international banking industry. The Swift network was created as a message system for banks to authenticate the transfer of money between accounts internationally. Hackers were able to infiltrate the networks of Bangladesh’s central bank in February and subsequently used Swift to steal $81 million from the central bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve. A second attack on a bank in Ecuador netted the attackers an additional $12 million. The ability to hack Swift has prompted calls for reforms in the international banking industry, along with increased security measures among banks worldwide.

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One of the main sections of globalEDGE is the Tools and Data section. The tools provided include a diagnostic tool, a comparator tool, and interactive rankings. The diagnostic tools are used to evaluate important international business decisions such as international partners and distributors. The comparator tool is used to compare countries across a variety of economic indicators including GDP, inflation, and exports. The final tool is the interactive rankings, a tool designed to rank countries or states based on key economic indicators.

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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be easing some of its economic sanctions on Burma. Under new provisions, seven Burmese companies and three state-run banks will be allowed to engage in business with American corporations. The announcement shortly followed the seating of Burma's first democratically elected government in decades, led by the opposition party of revolutionary Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama cited several other developments in Burma that led to this decision: the freeing of several political prisoners, the discharge of child soldiers from the Burmese military, and improved labor standards. The lifting of these particular sanctions is meant to reward Burma for taking the steps toward a more democratic society. 

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The sugar industry could be seeing big changes in the coming years, jump started when the European Union announced a liberalization of their sugar policies. The new sugar policy will allow farmers to produce more sugar, as production quotas and minimum payments have been abolished. With the new rules, the EU expects to become a net exporter of sugar for the first time since 2005, which will impact sugar farmers internationally, especially those used to importing to Europe.

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The International Monetary Fund recently released a report detailing how much corruption impacts governments worldwide. This report, titled “Corruption: Costs and Mitigating Strategies”, follows Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s warning to Ukraine in February that the IMF would halt its bailout unless stronger action to fight against corruption occurred. According to the report, corruption in the public services sector takes out an estimated $1.5 to 2 trillion each year from the global economy due to stunted bribes and costs, lost tax revenue, and sustained poverty.

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In a legally-binding agreement reached in last years' COP21 conference, over 195 nations pledged to reduce carbon emissions from 2020 onward. The ultimate goal of the conference was to adapt measures that would keep global temperatures from rising 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. The passing of this agreement--the first of its kind--appears indicative of the current worldview of climate change. Most world leaders are now unified in the idea that climate change is an increasingly urgent global concern. As a result, the pressure to utilize renewable energy sources has never been higher. Such resources, including hyrdo-electric power, wind turbines, and solar cells, are growing in both popularity and efficiency. Now, the goal is to deviate totally from fossil fuels, both in daily energy use and in international business.

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Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), gave a speech concerning the global economy last Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany. The speech covered several facets of international business and economics, including free trade, political risks to worldwide economies, income inequality, and recent policy actions. Above all, Lagarde emphasized the overall state of the global economy, claiming that the current pace of economic recovery and growth is much too slow. Lagarde warned that unless more is done to kickstart economic growth, the global economy will fall behind. Her speech precedes, and perhaps sets the tone for, the IMF and World Bank spring meetings, set to take place in Washington D.C.

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Whether it is an expansion of one company, the merging of multiple, or simply a business deal, international business is an art often underestimated or taken for granted altogether. The opportunities offered by the expansion of markets is unattainable when confined to one area and can offer tremendous rewards if executed properly. Most businesses, however, are unaware of what really sets international business apart from operating locally. Following are observations by a seasoned participant in the teaching, researching, and consulting of international business as well as supporting statistics.

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The online course modules section on globalEDGE, which can be located in the reference desk, provides a wealth of interactive educational tools pertinent both for the classroom and executive training. Modules contain updated case studies and anecdotes that are relevant in the ever changing international business environment. Some of the most popular categories of online course modules are the Culture, Exporting, and Doing Business In modules. The recently updated Exporting modules, which were produced in cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service, were developed from the 2015 edition of A Basic Guide to Exporting, with each module representing one of the book’s seventeen chapters. Users of all ages and international business experience level will find these modules insightful and can benefit from the multitude of resources and tools provided.

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Have you visited the Tools and Data section of globalEDGE lately? The Tools and Data section provides a wealth of information that is useful for students and business professionals alike. This sections features an MPI Index that helps users evaluate emerging markets around the world, a database of international business statistics, quizzes that test your global business knowledge, a country comparator tool, and much more. Explore this section of globalEDGE today and expand your international business knowledge!

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Since President John F. Kennedy signed the Presidential Proclamation 3447 on February 3, 1962, the United States has not been able to invest or do business with Cuba, as an “embargo on all trade” was declared. However, within the past two years, major changes have been made to reopen business opportunities between the U.S. and Cuba. In December 2014, President Obama met with Raul Castro and made the controversial decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. More recently, in July last year, both countries reopened their embassies and U.S. companies such as Verizon, Netflix, and Airbnb have expanded into the Cuban market. Many believe that now is the ideal time to start doing business with Cuba; however, there are also a wide variety of potential issues that could complicate future transactions.

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If you are looking to learn more about the ASEAN Economic Community, look no further than globalEDGE. On our website's ASEAN page, you can find information about member countries, financial and trade statistics, and the history of the trade bloc. In addition, we also have a plethora of resources on ASEAN, including pages about the ASEAN Economic Community. Check out our ASEAN and AEC resources here!

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In the third part of this week’s blog series on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), we will look at the many economic and investment opportunities created with the formation of the new economic bloc, along with some possible economic implications in the region. With a combined population of 625 million and a relatively low GDP per capita, many see the AEC as a region ripe for growth and opportunity. The economic community has the potential to significantly impact all ten participating countries, as a reduction in tariffs and freer trade could open new avenues for many businesses in the bloc, as well as foreign companies looking to expand.

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Venezuela's economy is spiraling downward with no end in sight. The country has the highest inflation in the world, topping countries such as Sudan and Iran. There are five apparent causes that have led to the downfall in Venezuela's economy, including political instability, food crisis, oil prices, currency exchange rates, and the country's default. Because of Venezuela's hurting economy, many companies from around the world are taking hits on profits and cutting back business within the country.

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Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained ever since a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet over the border between Turkey and Syria in late November. Turkey claimed the shooting was done because the bomber was violating Turkish airspace. Turkey also made a statement professing their awareness of the presence of Russian warplanes in the Syrian area, leading Russia to believe that the strike was a premeditated attack. In retaliation, Vladimir Putin signed a series of economic sanctions against Ankara on November 28. Now, Russia is discussing passing additional sanctions against Turkey.

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Over the last month, India has been making quite a few changes to its foreign investment policy with a goal of facilitating more money coming into the country. So far, India has eased local-sourcing requirements for international businesses setting up shop in the country, lifted foreign investment restrictions in a multitude of industries, and has publicized a series of other measures meant to invite investment from overseas.

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For businesses seeking to further understand what it takes to expand operations internationally, CORE™ does just this for you. CORE™ is a self-assessment tool that will allow you to determine your company’s readiness to operate internationally and export a particular product. Upon completion of a questionnaire, CORE™ is able to identify a company’s strengths and weaknesses concerning exporting. These responses by CORE™ are separated into organizational readiness and product readiness to portray a company’s international readiness for the firm as a whole, or for an individual product.

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One of the many great resources available on globalEDGE is the export tutorials. This resource is located in the Reference Desk section of the globalEDGE website. The export tutorials offer information and helpful tips for individuals or companies looking to take their products internationally. There are five main headers: export readiness, government regulations, financial considerations, sales and marketing, and logistics. Under each header are important questions relating to that particular topic, accompanied by answers to those questions.

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If you are looking to prepare for the Certified Global Business Professional Credential, find educational resources for your classroom, or learn more about all aspects of international business, look no further than globalEDGE's Online Course Modules. Our website contains over fifty modules, each with information on various issues in international business. Topics covered include country culture, exporting, microfinance, and doing business in different regions of the world, such as Africa, China, and the European Union. Along with knowledge on the selected material, our modules include interactive slides, quizzes, and relevant case studies. Our exporting modules, a product of a cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service, also contain downloadable podcasts.

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Located in the Global Resource Directory, globalEDGE’s culture resources provide information about greetings, etiquette, and gestures in order to increase cultural understanding and cross-cultural communications. The information provided can be useful for a businessperson or casual traveler, and these resources contain information regarding the business culture of a wide variety of countries. This particular section also provides globalEDGE online course modules that cover the topics of culture, international negotiations, and world religions to prepare a businessperson to do business abroad.

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Are you looking to take your business global? Are you looking for ways to expand your business’s trade opportunities in the international marketplace? Are you simply looking to expand your international trade and business knowledge? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, globalEDGE has numerous resources that can be of great assistance to you and your business. Over the next few days, the globalEDGE blog will feature resources available on globalEDGE that can help any business maximize its potential in the global business arena.

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Expanding a company abroad can provide a number of advantages for a company. The sales life of products and services can be extended by finding new markets to sell them in, thereby reducing dependence on domestic markets. Additionally, there is an increased ability to even out sales by tapping into new markets that may have different fluctuations if your business is troubled by seasonal changes or fluctuating demand cycles in the native country. Still, many countries assume that these benefits will be guaranteed immediately following the entrance of their business, and overlook a number of important factors that could have benefited the business. Some common mistakes made when taking a company global are listed below. 

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Expanding a business overseas is a great way to gain access to new customers and can lead to tremendous growth for a company. However, it is important to weigh the potential risks and rewards to determine the viability of expanding a business internationally. In order to be successful in foreign markets, businesses must develop a market strategy, operating model, and product that are specific to the market or markets that are being targeted. The following paragraphs identify four tips that business owners can use to determine if expansion overseas is a good strategy, and if so, which markets to target.

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Just this week, Nissan Motor Co. announced its quarterly earnings, which revealed that its profits had experienced a 37 percent surge during the first half of the fiscal year. Because of this revenue spike, Nissan's net income through March is now projected to reach $4.44 billion, an unprecedented level in the company's history. Nissan is now experiencing its fastest sales growth in over ten years, citing rising demand in the United States and Western Europe as a significant part of its success. This is an important record for the popular manufacturing company, but it may not last too much longer. 

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For many businesses, branding plays a vital role in their success. A recognizable brand that consumers can trust helps companies grow and expand, while also granting staying power as the business moves up the industry ranks. As companies have expanded internationally, branding power has only increased in importance, leading many businesses to spend large amounts of resources on the brand. With these large investments, companies view legal protections, such as trademarks, as an extremely important issue when doing business in a country, or when looking at prospective countries to enter.

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The Internet’s impact on international business has been incredible. Nowadays, companies invest large sums of money to grow their business through the internet, and it is normal for a business to be based solely on the web. The Internet has allowed companies to market their products to consumers halfway across the world and has helped connect employees situated around the globe. One of the major features of the internet has been its openness and free content, a business model mainly made possible by advertising revenue. The recent rise in popularity of ad blocking software is threatening to change this model, potentially impacting businesses operating around the world.

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It has been nearly a year since Emma Watson, the United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, gave a revolutionary speech introducing the HeForShe campaign. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that encourages men and boys around the world to step up and pledge to be advocates for change. Because education is a major determining factor in job positions and opportunities, HeForShe is calling to involve businesses, universities, and governments to help establish equality. HeForShe also encourages advocates to be a part of its IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative that “develops three bold, game-changing commitments to advance and ultimately achieve gender equality for all."

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With small entrepreneurial business growing, it is important to know the resources that are out there to help grow your business. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides many different ideas to help expand your small business successfully, whether it is to a neighboring state or country, or to the other side of the world. Some of the suggestions include the use of technology, forecasting, building your own franchise, and developing a marketing plan. In the rest of this post, we will look a little deeper into how you can plan for successful growth for your business.

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Tonight at some point before 8:00 PM Eastern Time, the world will experience what is known as a "leap second". There will be a minute of time that is 61 seconds long. Today, June 30, will be approximately one second longer than usual, and official atomic timekeeping will factor in this second before turning over to July 1. This strange concept has a fascinating history and explanation; however, it is also a cause of concern for market traders around the world, who fear that this extra second will disrupt global operations.

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The “Internet of Things”, or IoT, is defined as the concept of connecting a variety of household devices to the internet. This global IoT market, according to research firm International Data Corp (IDC), is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion by 2020, an annually compounded growth rate of 16.9%. Growth is likely to be a result of more devices coming online, the growth of platforms and services based around these devices, and declining costs of sensors, connectivity, and data processing power.

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Some may think that the key to expansion is growing, but it is becoming more popular in the global business world today for companies to divest in order to achieve desired growth. Many CEO's are saying that divestitures are the key to unlocking hidden potential and value within a company and also help improve corporate performance. A growing abundance of divestitures is being seen throughout industries around the globe, even in industries where M&A activity like this is anything but the norm.

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On Monday, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, went to South Korea for a two-day visit with its president, Park Geun-hye. On that day, the duo signed seven agreements dealing with various economic issues, discussed investments and political issues, and improved their bilateral relations. The two countries have vastly improved their relationship, elevating their relationship to a "Special Strategic Partnership". By improving both political and economic ties between the countries and opening up special business deals, Modi's visit is one that could prove vastly beneficial to both countries and potentially the global economy.

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With business becoming more and more global every day, small and medium sized companies are being pushed to start exporting if they want to stay competitive. This poses a challenge for these businesses however, as exporting has become more complex. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Commerce has made available its 11th edition of A Basic Guide to Exporting; this edition has been tailored to fit small and medium size businesses' needs for exporting in today's world.

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The global travel industry is a major player in the global economy, accounting for 9.5% of the world’s GDP and employing 266 million people. Many consumers also deal with the industry on a regular basis, whether traveling on business trips or for vacations. With the large size of the industry and the constant demand, the travel industry is highly competitive and constantly evolving. Recently, this competition has led to consolidation in many sectors of the industry, such as the hotel, airline, car rental, and online travel sectors. Many of the biggest companies in these sectors are buying out their smaller competitors, seeing economies of scale as a strategy to maintain their leadership role in the industry.

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Multilingualism can be an incredible asset for companies that conduct business internationally, helping to bridge the cultural gap when conducting business in foreign countries. As emerging market economies grow and open new markets for businesses, an understanding of the local language can give companies a leg up over their competitors, possibly giving them the advantage needed to be successful in the market. In an article in Entrepreneur, author Ofer Shoshan lists six languages that he believes would be most helpful for English-speaking CEOs to learn in today’s globalized world, as he emphasizes the importance that multilingualism can play in business situations.

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As the Eurozone progressively works on pulling out of financial distress, the economy is getting a much needed boost from its relatively weak euro. The euro has fallen 19 percent against the U.S. dollar ($1.11/euro) and 12.5 percent against the U.K. Sterling (0.73/euro).The weak euro is a distinctive element for providing a big boost for exporters. Moody’s, z credit rating agency, explains the drop in the euro as “positive for companies that have the majority of their cost bases in the euro area with significant sales to regions outside it."

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With a lot of business areas in developed markets and industries becoming saturated, many companies are starting to look into newer product categories in emerging markets. A key driver in making this transition into emerging markets successful is implementing a diversified strategy. Companies need to be innovative in these new markets, as existing capabilities are not often in line with the wants and needs of the newer prospects.

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In today’s blog post, we look at globalEDGE’s site traffic numbers, to give our users some interesting information about our site and its visitors. The traffic analysis, prepared by several of our team members with help from Google Analytics, looked at data from September 2013 to September 2014. The report found that globalEDGE was visited 1,531,166 times during this period, with over 73% of these visits from unique users. The average visitor viewed approximately 2.7 pages per visit, spending an average of 1 minute and 46 seconds per page.

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The 2014 Annual Report for the International Business Center (IBC) at Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business is now available! In 2014, the International Business Center was reaffirmed as a Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), which is a competitive, four-year grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The report highlights the International Business Center’s accomplishments in 2014 and provides an overview of the services and resources the IBC has to offer.

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In the retail industry, holidays are often a huge source of revenue. Throughout the world, certain holidays have become a time for consumers to spend more money and retailers to make it. These holidays vary from country to country, and the recognition of these differences is an important issue for international retail companies. For retail companies to be successful, they often must take advantage of these holidays, through the use of marketing campaigns and possible discounts or sales. The targeting of these days across world will help international retailers grow sales and increase profits.

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The Michigan State University International Business Center is pleased to introduce a new resource that is now available on globalEDGE – the 2015 Nationwide Benchmarking Report on International Business Education at Community Colleges. This resource can be found in the Community Colleges section of globalEDGE, which features resources related to Community College programs, syllabi, conferences, internationalization resources, and more. The 2015 Nationwide Benchmarking Report on International Business Education at Community Colleges delves into a variety of factors related to international business education in the United States and aims to reveal the prevalence of international education at the Community College level.

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Africa is currently a point of interest for many companies. This continent offers opportunities for rapid growth for both newly formed companies and already mature businesses that are looking to expand. However, starting operations in Africa comes with its share of risks. With an unproven economy, one needs to do research to make sure all facts are collected before breaking ground. Part of BBC's African Dream series is an interview with self-made African billionaire Mike Mlombwa. In the interview, Mlombwa provides tips for growing a successful business in Africa and dealing with red tape.

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Hosted by Dr. Tomas Hult from Michigan State University’s International Business Center, the globalEDGE Business Beat (gBB) is your source for global business knowledge on the airways. The gBB offers discussions with global leaders in business, government, and academe and is available on the globalEDGE website and the Michigan Business Network.

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E-commerce has quickly become a major factor for businesses across the world, as consumers’ comfort with online shopping continues to increase. With more options, better prices, and the flexibility of shopping at home, e-commerce has opened a new avenue for companies to conduct business, with global sales expected to hit $1.5 trillion in 2014. This avenue has also allowed companies to expand their operations across the globe, tapping new, lucrative markets. With this global expansion has come several challenges that businesses have to meet, as they must tailor their marketing and operational strategies to account for differences in each diverse market.

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In the fast paced business world of today, adoption of the latest technological advances is essential for sustainability and growth. One area of technology that more and more businesses are taking advantage of is the cloud, which allows data to be stored remotely on servers across the world. This remote storage has many advantages for businesses, such as allowing companies to rent hardware instead of purchasing the infrastructure themselves - which can be very costly. Cloud storage also gives companies greater flexibility with their data and information, as it can be accessed anywhere and anytime, which can be especially helpful for businesses that operate in many countries.

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What is something that we have we learned from medical epidemics? Globalization is a gift and a curse. As the world continues to unite and globalize goods, services, and cultures, there is one element that is still lagging behind - the globalization of healthcare. With globalization, traveling has never been easier as you can go from and to any part of the world in 24 hours. On top of that, growing cooperation between countries has decreased the alertness on country borders. Ultimately, this has become one of the causes of the global spread of diseases and infections, since they can spread at a rapid and dismantling pace. Attempts at addressing this problem and increasing globalization have been demonstrated through medical tourism, which has made progress but also suffered some setbacks.

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In the global healthcare industry, glocalization is an emerging trend. Glocalization, a term derived from combining the words globalization and localization, describes the adaptation of global products and services to meet the needs of people in a specific geographic location. Many healthcare industry challenges are shared around the world; however, the effects of these challenges are generally influenced by local issues. A surge in global healthcare spending, along with glocalization, is presenting pharmaceutical companies with both great challenges and opportunities.

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Nearly a decade ago, many foreign companies began or significantly increased their presence in China. The country had many attractive business advantages including relaxed regulations, cheap manufacturing costs, and low labor wages, among others. China was providing companies with every reason to invest in its country. Now foreign companies from the US, Europe and Japan are beginning to get the ‘cold-shoulder’ and feel unwelcome in China.

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During the Great Depression of the 1930s, world trade declined sharply and employment and living standards plummeted in many countries. In order to avoid a repetition of the same economic disaster, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established after World War II to oversee the international monetary system and to encourage its member countries to trade with each other. The IMF was created to assist the worldwide economic recovery and it continues to work on its mission until today.

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Sports are big business across the world. The recent agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, of the NBA, for $2 billion is the largest amount paid for a sports franchise in the history of the United States. Across the world things are no different. In 2012, for the first time, a sports franchise issued an IPO and went public. Manchester United, an English soccer club, currently holds a $2.75 billion market cap, making it one of the most valuable sports franchises.

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The price for a cup of coffee could rise in the coming months, as a fungus, known as coffee rust, hits the coffee crop throughout South and Central America. The fungus, which cannot be treated, has significantly affected much of the crop in several major coffee producing countries, such as Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, and Mexico. In Guatemala, officials have estimated that an incredible 70 percent of the crop is infected, worrying farmers across the country who depend on coffee sales. The loss of such a large portion of the world’s coffee supply will force prices up, impacting people in countries around the globe, as well as many major food corporations that rely on coffee.

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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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As the violent protests and riots in Vietnam affect the country’s social harmony, the business climate is also being seriously impacted. Anti-Chinese riots erupted in Vietnam on Tuesday after the Chinese government placed an oil rig in disputed waters between the two countries, and by Thursday the riots had claimed at least 21 lives. Following mass demonstrations, some Vietnamese protestors began to loot and destroy Chinese businesses, and as the rioting intensified, the protestors started to target all foreign owned businesses. Along with Chinese establishments, Taiwanese, South Korean, Japanese, and Malaysian companies have all reported damages from the riots, which threatens to continue as emotions are still running high throughout Vietnam.

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The most important way to ensure achievement of mergers and acquisitions is to make sure the integration process with the other company is successful. While this may not be the most exciting aspect involved in merging companies together, it is by far one of the most important phases. Companies need to focus tasks on the integration process and make sure not to over-look it in practice.

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In the face of major economic sanctions from many countries around the world, especially the United States and other Western nations, Russia has been actively looking to avoid economic isolation. As a result of this, it has turned to many large nations in the East to set up economic agreements. One country that is willing to open its doors is China. After over ten years of talks on the subject, Russia and China are finally coming close to signing what has been called a "Holy Grail" for Russia and especially Moscow; a deal where Russia will send natural gas to China.

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With organizations and supply chains becoming more and more global, international travel for business professionals is increasing. The perks are growing your resume and seeing the world, but traveling across time zones on a regular basis tends to throw a person’s body out of whack. There have been many studies as to how one can minimize these effects, and the studies show the importance of getting on a precise schedule while traveling.

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On Saturday, Cuban legislators approved a new measure to help attract foreign investment into the country. The law makes initial investment in Cuba free of taxation and increases lawful protection over these finances. This new piece of legislation comes after a year of disappointing economic growth, which caused Raul Castro and Cuba's government to put forth a series of reforms to fix and modernize Cuba's economy. While many agree that increased foreign capital in Cuba would be highly beneficial to the nation, the fact remains it is still a very uneasy place to do business and the future impact of this law still remains uncertain.

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Economist Milton Friedman once said, "responsibility... generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to their basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom". Business ethics reflect the fundamental purposes of a company and are extremely important for multinational corporations, especially when trying to expand their brands into new countries and cultures. As globalization further expands, multinational corporations find that business integrity is perceived differently in different countries and often poses a challenge for business expansion.

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Have you visited the Business Review section of globalEDGE recently? If not, this would be a great time to start, as the second article in the 2014 Volume 8 edition has recently been released. What is the business review and what is its target audience you may ask? The globalEDGE Business Review is a collection of monthly comprehensive articles that focuses on major international business matters. The review examines a topic question and pieces together international research that includes a breakdown of background information, introduction of the topic issues, analysis of different characteristics in business operations, and offering strategic solutions in an abridged fashion. The review also includes helpful aids such as graphs and data tables that help visualize and support key points. Based on professional and highly acclaimed international research, feature topics target business executives with the purpose of identifying key areas of development, whether marginal or major, that can have a positive effect on business operations.

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When naming the most innovative place in the world, Silicon Valley of the United States is usually everyone’s first response. However, that might not hold true in Europe. The tech-savvy country of Estonia is proving to be an important focal point for entrepreneurship and innovation. Right on the edge of Europe, Estonia has a total population of just 1.3 million. Estonia may be considered an extremely small country, but in terms of technology and innovation, it’s a giant.

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Ever since the financial crisis hit the world in 2008 discussion has ensued on who is at fault and how can we make sure something like this never happens again. At the heart of this debate are banks - especially global ones. Legislative bodies across the globe have acted in an attempt to stabilize the banking system and stop financial panics that dry up credit. From Basel III to Dodd-Frank many attempts have been undertaken.

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The resurging automotive manufacturer, Ford Motor Company, has made a big splash on the international automotive and commodity industries with their revolutionary light-weight body design. Thanks to Ford securing a hefty amount of aluminum for their flagship product, automakers are scrambling to prepare their supply chains to handle the next big metal demand. This comes at a critical time when the international aluminum market is suffering. Though the metal is in healthy supply, stockpiles are entangled in financial transactions making it hard to get aluminum at all. 

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Employee resource groups (ERGs) are very popular with companies in the United States, but it is becoming increasingly important for companies all over the world to adopt this workplace habit. Employee resource groups are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. Global companies need to hone in on this, and take full advantage of what ERGs can do for a business.

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Eugenio Proto, an Associate Professor at Warwick University, and Aldo Rustichini, an Economics Professor at the University of Minnesota, found that the relationship between national income and national life satisfaction is “hump shaped.” They discovered that there is a clear positive relation in poorer nations, then flattens out at around $30,000-$35,000, and then turns negative. The relationship between national income and life satisfaction are critical to policymakers.

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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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In what is deemed the last continent for major growth in the fast food industry, several chains are finding that expansion into Africa is going to be tougher than what was once expected. Infrastructure costs, food imports, and meat shortages have led to high prices at many quick serve restaurants across Africa. This has lowered optimism among some fast food executives about the prospects of expansion into the vast African continent, though there are others who believe now is the time for growth, even with the early setbacks.

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In recent findings, scientists have discovered how to turn a stream of algae into bio-crude oil, a  possible game changer for the role oil plays in global business and global dependencies. The high-tech pressure cooker that reaches temperatures around 660 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch, is licensed by a Utah-based biofuel company Genifuel, who are now working with industrial partners to build a pilot plant.

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Corporate governance is a hotly contested issue of late. With the global economy still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis many have tried to answer the question what can prevent this from happening again? Better corporate governance has been proposed as a piece of the solution.

Corporate governance is an encompassing term that refers to the system by which corporations are directed and controlled. Within this there are many different ways to govern corporations and depending on a variety of factors, companies will differ in their structures. This is apparent when looking across cultures around the world. One of the most overarching differences is between the western way of corporate governance in comparison to emerging economies.

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Businesses are becoming increasingly global, causing teams to be spread around the world. This leads to greater success along with some unique challenges. In order to lead these teams, managers must learn to balance different cultures, time zones, computer software, and relationship styles.

When it comes to managing different cultures in a team the best way is to learn and immerse one’s self into the culture, this will allow complete understanding of where others come from. If you learn the country’s cultural tendencies, you will understand why team members are doing certain things. In some cultures for instance, people do not waste time in e-mails with small talk. E-mails are very direct and to the point. If one does not know that is a cultural norm of this person, they may feel uncomfortable in the situation, and take offense. It is a good idea to take note at the beginning of the project, of team members’ communication and working styles that way everyone is familiar and comfortable working with each other.

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As the world becomes increasingly globalized, workers from around the world are experiencing increased opportunities to work abroad. This is exactly what is occurring in Canada. As the province of Alberta continues to boom economically, Canadian companies are in need of a labor supply. With too few Canadians to fill the extra jobs needed, Canadian firms have begun recruiting internationally. The international recruiting strategy has been very successful as Canadian companies were able to find an abundant supply of workers from the United Kingdom and Ireland. This development in Canada is a testament to the many benefits of international business.

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Last week the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index was released. The Corruption Perceptions Index, or CPI, is an index of 177 countries in the world and their corruption levels. The rankings are based on perceptions of the country and how much illegal activity or scandals in the public sector exist as well as many other factors. Countries are scored in two ways. The first is on a scale from 0-100. A country that has a score of zero is considered to be extremely corrupt and a country with a score of one hundred is perceived as being very clean or not corrupt.

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One thing companies are always concerned with is productivity. How can managers increase their productivity? How can they increase their employees productivity? Companies along with scientists have spent huge sums of money trying to figure out the key to not only productivity but success—both on an individual and company wide level.

It is no secret that happy employees are more productive and overall better employees. Employees that identify as low well-being are seven times more likely to be absent from work and seven times more likely to be looking for a new job. This leads to an overall lack of productivity from what is known as presenteeism. Presenteeism is when employees physically show up to work but lack productivity because they may be having any multitude of personal problems.

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Now that 2013 is wrapping up people are interested in predictions for 2014. Two important predictions to look at are the global economy and global business. These two factors usually go hand in hand; if the global economy is looking brighter it may be due to the fact that global business is increasing. Since a large plummet in 2011, global business and the global economy have slowly been increasing and there is more confidence on what the future holds.

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Today we are featuring our group on LinkedIn. For posts and discussion on current international business issues join the group! Anyone with a LinkedIn account is able to join and once a member you are able to post and facilitate discussions within the group yourself. 

Please check out our globalEDGE LinkedIn group here!

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In a recent series of blog posts in the Economist, the Schumpeter columnist compared start-ups in two European cities: London and Berlin. Both are major cities in Europe that are popular to tourists, but are less well known for being leading cities for start-ups. Comparing the two, Berlin has only recently seen an increase in digital start-ups. In contrast, London has seen a large increase in tech start-ups during the internet boom in the late 1990’s. Increases in technology and international business could result in more cities beginning to experience tech start-ups.

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The effect of time zones has been a little-known but important issue for international business. Country time zones have been historically influenced by trading patterns and partners. Setting the same time zone to a partner makes it easier to conduct trading since business hours match. Different time zones force businesses to factor in time zone conversion when dealing with international business and can negatively impact worker productivity.

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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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Globalization has been a hot topic for years now and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. When and where globalization started is a matter that is hotly contested to this day. Technically speaking globalization may have begun as early as the trading routes between China and Europe. When looking up the history of globalization many timelines will include this time period and talk about the expansion of global trade from that point forward. Of course, that is not where the starting point is usually considered to be. The more modern definition is usually agreed to be around the 1980’s when globalization really took off.

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The trend toward globalization is rising and as globalization's popularity grows worldwide, companies are inclined to develop globally. Therefore, cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are becoming more fashionable these days as they offer increased opportunities and cheaper alternatives to building companies internally. However, a great majority believe that cross-border M&A is complicated and contains many variables that can lead to business failures.

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As time goes by, we often forget about the fast paced and dynamic environment that we live in. Over the past five years, the international business world has changed dramatically. Believe it or not, in just five years, rapidly growing countries have emerged onto the global economic scene, various industries have been drastically altered by technology, and start-up businesses have grown into international powerhouses. Today, in honor of the 5th year anniversary of the globalEDGE blog, we will look at global business facts and trends in 2008 and compare them to that of 2013.

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Silicon Valley has always been considered the Mecca of tech start-ups. Why Silicon Valley? Countries have been asking themselves this for years as the insistence on replicating the success of Silicon Valley becomes ever more alluring. Many have tried to replicate Silicon Valley but that has proven to be a herculean task. France, Norway and Malaysia have attempted to create an entrepreneurial rival but to no avail. There is no doubt that one of the keys to success is the relative ease with which a company is able to be started in the United States compared to the rest of the world and also the sheer amount of capital surrounding Silicon Valley makes access to funds easy but these strategies alone cannot explain why northern California has excelled, for many countries have duplicated these methods.

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When an economic downturn lingers over a market, generating profits becomes extremely difficult for a business. However, there are a few ways to reduce this cyclical business risk. One of the ways happens to be with the use of international business tactics. Perhaps surprisingly, a casino located in Las Vegas, Nevada serves as a great example of this risk reduction strategy.

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It is almost undeniable that cloud computing is the future. And when it comes to technology the future is now. Cloud computing is the ability to store, manage and process data in a remote server that is hosted on the internet. Essentially, it is your hard drive but out on the internet so you are able to access it anywhere from any device that is outfitted with internet. The possibilities of this technology are seemingly endless and multinational businesses want in.

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As May crawls to a close, the team here at the International Business Center at Michigan State University is gearing up for a highly anticipated event for faculty. Held at our renowned Kellogg Center every other year, the International Business Institute for Community College Faculty is an incredible learning environment for faculty nationwide to expand their institutions on the international spectrum.

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Today the shareholders of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. prepare for one of the most contentious stockholders votes of recent memory. One of the main issues centers on Jamie Dimon, who is the CEO of the company as well as the Chairman of the board of directors. Many of those who hold stock believe that these roles should be separated; in the vote last year the proposal was rejected but still received the backing of 40% of stockholders, which is nothing to take lightly. The arguments in favor of this separation range from too much power being concentrated in a single person to a person can only focus on so many things and being CEO of company as large as J.P. Morgan Chase is enough of a task in itself. Regardless of the facts of this specific case, it brings into the question the larger issue of corporate governance. It would be beneficial to see how different countries operate – both in theory and practice – and see how those companies perform under different structures.

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Business schools have continuously taken steps to prepare students for today’s increasingly international business world through study abroad programs, leadership programs, and international enrollment. NAFSA: Association of International Educators was originally founded to help foreign students become familiarized with the United States’ college communities. Now the association assists in opportunities for American students to study abroad, participate in exchange programs, and study foreign areas and languages. NAFSA now has close to 10,000 members who are international educators.

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What leads to the prosperity of nations? It is an interesting question that many have tried to answer throughout time. It puzzles many that a small island off the northern edge continental Europe can come to dominate the globe for a period of time. There surely is not one answer to this question and, in fact, there are many more that can be written. Niall Ferguson takes on this question through the effect that financial institutions have on the prosperity of nations in his financial history of the world in The Ascent of Money.

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The theory of a steady state economy and the end of economic growth as we know it has been discussed more frequently today as the world struggles to climb its way out of a recession. Whether or not this theory will become reality is up for debate. However, one specific aspect of this theory is certain. If economic growth continues to diminish and GDP growth rests motionless, the impact on international business will be profound. We will now look at some of the implications this reality would hold for international business, and we will also discuss possible solutions to the problems created by growth in our finite world.

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When taking a company, product, or service internationally one has to take into consideration the variability of laws they will encounter. This tends to be quite the process, and a very complex one at that. Few may be more complex (and more of a hindrance) to business expansion than copyright law, specifically when it comes to the music industry. This makes for a wide array of complications that music empires have to deal with and has even derailed some.

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Regulatory environments vary significantly from country to country and have a dramatic impact on business, both domestic and international. In the Doing Business 2013 report, senior managers reported that they spend 11% of their time dealing with government regulations and more than 50% of them feel that regulations are inconsistent. The Doing Business Report is a study that rates the attractiveness of a country based on its legal institutions and regulatory environment. Latin America is making progress according to the report, but no country from the region has been able to break into the list’s top 30. What does this mean for Latin America’s role in international business?

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With an increasingly interconnected world and growing international marketplace, many companies are searching for opportunities at a global level. Businesses are looking to expand overseas for many reasons—stagnant economies at home, desired growth in their customer base, or even the pursuit for higher profit margins. Whatever the case may be, these businesses are becoming very important for the global economy. Surprisingly enough, not all of these businesses are large multinational firms. In fact, there is a recent trend where small businesses are beginning to follow larger companies in expanding their business operations into foreign markets.

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The New Year began with the United States barely avoiding sequestration that many economists agree would have been a giant setback for the U.S. economy that would pile on to the global economic troubles. Not the way to start things off. With the major economies of the world still struggling to return to the growth needed to bring down unemployment there may be good news after all.

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For the second year in a row, Singapore sits atop Mercer’s rankings for cities with the best infrastructure.  The rankings are a result of a survey conducted in 221 cities around the world.  In this survey, quality of infrastructure is measured by electricity supply, traffic congestion, availability of flights from local airports, quality of public transportation, telephone and mail service, and availability of water.  As businesses continue to expand beyond domestic borders, it is vital for cities that wish to be relevant in international business to have a solid infrastructure.

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Alongside China’s growing assertiveness in foreign policy, businesses in China are also being more aggressive in their international business practices. Chinese businesses are increasingly using international acquisitions to expand their presence overseas in various countries such as Canada and the United States. Chinese firms have already acquired an American manufacturer of high-tech batteries and a major aircraft leasing business this past month. Overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies are expected to continue to increase as firms pursue companies in Canada including Nexen, a major Canadian energy company. Chinese acquisitions are changing the landscape of international business and may also be an indicator of China’s goal to be the world’s strongest economy.

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The year of 2012 has been a great and exciting year for globalEDGE! To wrap up the year, the gE blog team will highlight some of the many exciting international business features globalEDGE has to offer. Throughout, this week there will be a blog post each day regarding globalEDGE. By keeping up with our blog series this week, you will learn about our new Regulatory Agencies section, the globalEDGE LinkedIn network, and our updated online course modules. We will begin this week by talking about the recently released Country Comparator Tool!

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As globalization has emerged and evolved into one of the leading factors driving business decisions today, certain countries and economies have been profiled for their seemingly important role in this new age. India is seen as one of those stars in the age of globalization but recent setbacks may warrant a second look. With anemic growth in the United States economy and the European Union with its whole host of problems some economic consequences for India seem legitimate. However, with the missteps that India businesses have taken, both at home and abroad, the business practices of the country must be questioned.

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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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Data is everywhere you look; from the UPC code on your Starbucks coffee cup, down to the GPS in your phone. It has been dubbed by the Harvard Business Review as “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”  Experts now point to a 4300% increase in annual data generation by 2020. All of that data is creating quite the hassle for businesses though. This industry, and its implications on international business are so new that many companies do not know how to attack the problem. They know being able to analyze and come to conclusions from their massive amounts of data is important but many companies have not developed a strategy yet.

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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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Exports are a vital source of growth at a time when the market in the U.S. and in Europe is fragile. Exports are now contributing to the U.S.’s recovery and growth at a higher percentage than the previous two recessions and subsequent recoveries. There is no better example of this than Combustion Associates, a California based company whose foreign sales make up 90% of their total revenue. Recently, Doug Barry sat down with Kusum and Mukund Kavia, a married couple who came from Bangladesh via London to the U.S. with not a lot of money, but a whole lot of determination.

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The Academy of International Business is holding a conference this week focusing on rethinking the roles of business, government and NGOs in the global economy.  The conference is sponsored by George Washington University and the University of Maryland. Every year, AIB members from 77 countries partake in conferences and activities that involve discussions, key-note speakers, and networking opportunities from professionals and academics around the world. To learn more about this year’s conference or become a member yourself, see our AIB page.

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Earlier this month in Washington D.C., Ambient Technologies was one of several companies recognized for their efforts to increase exports in the United States. They received the Presidential E Award for their efforts to export their company’s services abroad, with help from the Export Assistance Centers of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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Franchises have been booming worldwide. Close to 10 million employees work at approximately 400,000 franchise locations worldwide. Franchise owners enjoy that they can open a restaurant without as much risk, and the restaurants enjoy the increase in revenue coming from new stores in a variety of countries. One of the most recent booms in the franchise world is the massive growth in Latin markets. In the past year alone Brazil has experienced a 15% growth in franchises, Mexico has had a 13% increase, and Argentina also had double digit growth with 10.5%. 

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In today’s technology driven society, web browsers are very important as people spend many hours using the internet for business needs or gathering information from sources around the world. A few weeks ago, Google Chrome became the most popular web browser worldwide for a single day, edging out the long-standing dominance of Internet Explorer. Claiming the top spot for only one day may not seem like a noteworthy event, but how Google Chrome was able to take the lead is very important in terms of international business.

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Many small businesses are achieving success by selling to customers within their domestic borders. While this is a solid strategy, opportunities exist around the world that will allow further business growth. These opportunities lie within expanding business into new markets abroad. Going global may seem difficult at first but for many small businesses it provides a proven growth strategy. Doug Barry of the United States Commercial Service states that profit margins for international sales tend to be higher and he also offers several tips for entering international markets. We will now take a look at these suggestions and see how easy international business can really be!

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Starbucks Corporation recently announced that it will begin opening cafés in India and plans on opening its first café as early as August.  Starbucks’ arrival in India is a result of a joint venture with Indian company Tata Global Beverages, which is currently the country’s largest conglomerate.  Although India is traditionally a tea drinking country, consumer demand for coffee is increasing.  In fact, domestic coffee consumption has increased by an astonishing 80 percent in the last decade. 

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28 percent of all US organizations are using cloud computing according to a software supplier based out of Illinois that conducted a poll last month. Many other forecasters, such Gartner, are estimating that the cloud computing market could be a $150 billion market by 2013; A pretty sizable amount indeed for a still-growing sector.

Cloud computing did not have such an optimistic outlook just by being the new technological bubble. The implications cloud computing bring to international business vary and are far reaching. The changes have already started occurring with many organizations switching to cloud file storage, email, and web and video conferencing.

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Amid speculation of tax reform in the near future as Tim Geithner has stated, many critics have wondered what the United States will do to curb the appetite for our cash hungry government. Many have brought up that the U.S. has the one of the highest tax brackets amongst the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development). This statement is true; the United States is almost at the top of that list with 35 percent as its top corporate tax bracket, trailing only Japan that tops out at 39.5 percent. This statistic is actually misleading though. While the U.S. has one of the highest statutory tax rates, its marginal tax rate is 27.1 percent. This is due to all the loopholes and tax break incentives the current tax code offers. Many other countries do not offer such tax breaks to companies. To put this figure into perspective, here is a list of other OECD countries and their marginal tax rate in 2008:

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I was first introduced to cultural intelligence (CQ) in my international management class this past year, and was highly intrigued by the topic. CQ is a person's capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. When the opportunity rose to read The Cultural Intelligence Difference, I jumped at the chance. Dr. David Livermore wrote the book to essentially give the everyday person, whether you are a teacher, doctor, entrepreneur or CEO, strategies to increase your CQ.  Here is a little excerpt of an example from the book that may apply to you:

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When you think of a major international business hub, densely populated metropolitan areas such as London, Tokyo, and New York City come to mind. They are home to many multinational corporations’ headquarters and countless commercial offices; business never seems to cease in these cities. The relentless rise of electricity prices and a growing demand for high-quality power could drastically change the geography of these international business hubs in the next decade.

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In October 2010's newsletter, I discussed some of the statistics regarding the global water supply. To summarize: the situation is not good. Many industry experts and market pundits have suggested that the combination of low supply and higher demand will lead water to one day be traded just like other commodities such as gold and oil. Companies are catching onto the trend and are seeking to strengthen their water pipeline divisions in order to supply the expected future demand.

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As we are wrapping up this globalEDGE blog series of “top trends,” we thought there’d be no better way to finish then with a custom-made list talking about top global business trends as seen by us here at globalEDGE. The list is in no particular order (i.e. trend number 1 is no more prevalent then trend number 5), but we feel that all of these trends are making themselves known in the international marketplace now. Here’s the list!

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Each year, Ernst & Young releases a Global Business Risk Report, which highlights the ten most significant risks to global businesses. Compiling views from leading analysts, academics and industry executives, the report does a nice job of showing what companies need to be on the lookout for in 2011 and beyond. Here is the preliminary 2011 list, with the number in parenthesis being the rank from 2010:

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As globalization becomes an increasingly important trend in the business world, finding the right country to conduct business in may seem like a difficult task. However, it could be easier than you think. The International Finance Corporation, an organization under the World Bank, develops an index to rank 183 countries based on their ease of doing business. The country rankings depend on nine different percentile categories including: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and closing a business.

Here is the list of the top ten countries:

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In the business world competition is something companies must thrive on. In order to survive in this cut throat global economy, companies have to be able to compete with each other and show their strengths. Our coming blog series is based on just that, competition. We will be show casing the best of the best in international business.

Any international business professional should be aware of the world around them. We will help you out by putting the important information all in one place. This week watch for lists of the top countries for offshoring, top global business cities, top traded commodities, top countries in the ease of doing business, top business risks, and top international business trends. It is essential to stay on top of the latest trends and know where in the world potential for business growth lies. All of these lists should help you to get a feel of the current international business environment, and see ‘What’s On Top’.  So come back later this week for some awesome posts!

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Everyone has been hearing about it lately.  Look at any news site and it will be the top story if not many of the top five stories.  Ever since Mohamed Al Bouazizi set himself on fire in December to protest Tunisia’s economic situation, revolution has been spreading across the Middle East.  These conflicts are demonstrating how some of the world’s smallest countries can have great effects on the rest of the planet.

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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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When most people think about rare earth mining, they think miners extract a chunk of lanthanum or cerium, send it to Apple, and they put it in their newest iGadget. However, few know that there are two different types of rare earths with wide ranging uses and prices. In addition, raw minerals must be processed using a complicated (and often dangerous) process to extract the individual elements.

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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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On November 23rd North Korea fired artillery on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong as a response to South Korea performing military drills near disputed maritime border. Besides the obvious restrictions set on North Korea by global super powers, some businesses are also taking steps to protect their employees from the potential threat.

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There has been a debate going on for many years, the true value of investing in frontier markets. The results of investing in frontier markets seem inherently leveraged when compared to the results of investing in the more steady paced developed markets. While people with safety as the forefront of their current investment philosophy may not have any desire to invest in these markets, the intelligent investor with the time and knowledge to invest for the long run can benefit greatly from investing in the frontier. I believe that right now is a good time to put money down for the long run in these growing markets.

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This talk by Dan Cobley, a Director of Marketing at Google, brings great insight into the parallels between Newton’s Law and marketing. Specifically, why are new brands created instead of just extending current brands? He demonstrates that inertia can work for you or against you depending on the circumstances.

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As many travelers still feel the pinch of the recession on their wallets, a new market begs for attention as it couples the price tag of a hostel, convenience of a hotel and the homey feel of a bed and breakfast. This new way of travel accommodations is basically a social networking bed and breakfast and has expanded in the past years in Europe. Half a dozen startup companies have emerged in this market in the past two years including the likes of Crashpadder.com, iStopOver.com, ArBnB.com, and Roomorama.com. With this new market opening up, international businesses are looking to reap the rewards of this new type of traveler and hoping it will increase business abroad.