Archive | May, 2011

Maurice Kogon, Director at Center for International Trade Development

Maurice has been a Trade Professional for 50 years.  That’s a half-century!   He served with the Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, U.S. Foreign Commercial Service for over 30 years, beginning in 1961, and ultimately directing their entire office.  Mr. Kogon now directs the El Camino office of the CITD, California International Trade Development office, where he has been employed since leaving the ITA in 1994.

Mr. Kogon attended American University where he obtained a M.A. in Foreign Affairs and George Washington University where he obtained a Candidancy in Ph.D. in International Relations.  His 50+ year tenure as a trade professional has honed him into one of the most respected sages on the planet.

In my 10 years as CEO of CenTradeX, I had the privilege of occasionally working with Mr. Kogon in our role as a vendor to the State of California (CITD trade offices who utilized our Trade Intelligence products) as well as during the annual NASBITE conferences (we were a regular presenter and exhibitor) where he presided as board member, president and/or guiding hand. His quiet, non-assuming manner cloaks the imminent authority of his vast experience and insight.

When CenTradeX was developing an innovative trade portal, called the Virtual Trade Advisor (kind of like “Web MD” for Trade) for the State of Pennsylvania, the ONLY “outside” expert that PA director Pete O’Neil wanted feedback and critique from (prior to launch) was Maurice.  (BTW, Pete’s international trade office was recently awarded the President’s export excellence award. PA has the international trade budget and resources of 10 states put together and are wholly committed to increasing exports and attracting foreign investment.) Notwithstanding, Mr. Kogon was acknowledged as the “Godfather” of trade.

Maurice Kogan, Director of CITD trade resources and links

Whether identified as sage, guru, Godfather, or simply as director for the El Camino CITD, Maurice continues to make waves.  He has assembled and organized perhaps the most comprehensive collection of links, sources and resources on International Trade.  You can access this vast trade database on the CITD web site.  Barney Lehrer of FITA recently informed me that Maurice generously shared these accumulated treasures for integration within their new venture: – a Network of International Trade Services. So you will likely see the influence of his research there as well.

Maurice has developed many valuable tools for assisting new-to-export or veteran traders.  Of particular note are a series of podcasts on export assistance found at Funded by the CITD, these are free educational resources created to help your company export competitively.

In this collection of 18 short episodes, Maurice will walk you through all phases of the export process from getting started, to getting paid and delivering the goods. Throughout the series, he will share resources that can help motivate and prepare you to export successfully, including free Web resources and further reading… such as:

Maurice Kogon is truly one of the central intelligences within the world of trade intelligence.

A Tapestry of Memorial Day Reflections Captured on Video and in Lyric

We honor the memories, losses and sacrifices of many this day through several videos.

This first video may reflect the sentiments of those who have lost loved ones to the ravages of war not only in America, but also throughout the world.  Set to a heart piercing rendition of Amazing Grace, this photo collage of chronicles survivors honoring the remembrance of their fallen loved ones… and  perhaps captures the essence intended for the day.

Wiki has complied a list of estimated war and related losses by all countries throughout recent history.  Too many tears and too much blood.

As World Trade is the subject for this blog, we honor the memories of those lost almost a decade ago, during 9/11. NINTY Countries Lost Citizens in the World Trade Center attack. It was not just an assault upon the United States, it was a travesty against our an important aspect of global connectedness – world trade and commerce. This short video depicts the recent “Tribute of Light” held at the N.Y.C. 911 memorial.  A symbol of hope, restoration and remembrance.

Visit the CNN website for their comprehensive 9/11 web memorial including information on each victim.  You can also refer to the Wikipedia list of losses by country.

Ending this Memorial post, we feature an inspiring video produced over 25 years ago, “We Are the World”, which ultimately raised over $63 million for humanitarian causes… over 70 recovery and development projects were launched in seven African nations.

Unfortunately, many times it takes devastating tragedies like famines, earthquakes, or tsunamis to remind us that we ALL belong to the same world Community… and MUST strive together to create a safe and prosperous future for our children.

This Memorial Day, let us pause to be grateful for our blessings, respectful for the sacrifices and losses of others and open hearted/open handed with our resources.

WTD International Trade News of the Week. Pick of the Litter Series, vol. # 5

MSNBC via National District Export Council: US outlines global plan for cyberspace.  Policy guidelines cover both online freedom of expression and prevention of cybercrime. International leaders are looking for ways to better secure online financial transactions and other business and high-tech exchanges between nations and corporations that span the globe. The new space race. 

LA Times also via National District Export Council: To restore jobs, U.S. has to ramp up exports. For 20 years, U.S. exports have trailed imports. Addressing the imbalance could hugely boost the job market. Complicated problems aren’t solved by simple answers. 

Panjiva Blog: Summer Movie Merchandise: Cars Is The Big Winner  Cars 2: World Grand Prix is racing ahead of its competition when it comes to merchandise, with a 564 percent increase in shipments. Cars-themed puzzle games, gadgets and toy cars were among the top items. Zoom, Zoom. 

OECD: Global recovery firmly underway but surrounded by risks, says OECD Economic Outlook. “This is a delicate moment for the global economy, and the crisis is not over until our economies are creating enough jobs again,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Good “Big Picture” Article which includes a video. 

DOC Blog: U.S. Tourism is Big Business at International Pow Wow. The travel and tourism industry is a large component of President Obama’s National Export Initiative of doubling exports by the end of 2014 supporting million of jobs. Nearly 8 million people in the United States are employed in travel and tourism industries, and 1.2 million are tied directly to international travelers. (Inbound) Tourism is considered an “Export” by many.  

Also from Commerce: EDA Helps Launch Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to Promote Regional Growth, Competitiveness. The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced a $33 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to drive innovation-fueled job creation and global competitiveness through public-private partnerships in at least 20 regions around the country.  Sounds good. 

And another Spotlight on Commerce: Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.  Of the U.S.’s 30 million companies, only 1% or 280,000 companies export and of those who do, 58% export to only one market. We can and we must do better… Well, let’s get going!

Datamyne Blog: Handy Tool to Look up tariffs for imports and exports between free-trade partners online FYI

USDA ERS: International Food Security Assessment, 2010 Update: Improved Production Mitigated Impact of Higher Food Commodity Price. This report reviews the impact of high global food commodity prices on food security in 2010 in 70 lower income countries using actual 2010 price and food production information. Spoils my appetite. 

Also from ERS: Feed Grains Database.  New data to gobble up, in tables, through queries or direct download.  Yummy.

International Trade Law News: EU Export Controls for North American Trade Compliance Professionals to be Held in DC on July 18, 2011. The Trusted Trade Institute is holding a one-day program on European Union (EU) export controls. There goes the summer. 

WTD Backstory- Part 3; My Later Days with CenTradeX

This article continues a series of articles that chronicles my (Robert Thompson) personal and professional journey into the International Trade arena as well as the background of

We (CenTradeX) vastly expanded and improved our technology, databases and product lines. We began to attract the interest of major players in several industries. During the summer of 2008, a top venture capital group made a deal to apprehend $20 million through direct investments as well as another $20 million generated via new sales within their “network”.

Their stated objective was to take CenTradeX public within three to five years. The process included the installation of professional management, shoring up our infrastructure, a laser focused marketing and sales strategy and exclusive attention given to the commercial sectors versus our previous book of business, largely comprised of non-profits and custom development projects. In their opinion, I had been using “diamonds to cut paper.”

All this sounded quite heady and nice. However, in the process two things happened.

The typical venture capitalist loves to "invest" in promising start-ups.

First, since they were contemptuous of my personal penchant toward the inventive and the philanthropic, I eventually found myself losing my sense of vision, passion and interest, which hitherto kept me warm through the night. Thus I began the process of management transition leading to my semi-retirement.

Secondly, the official Nashville “signing” party, got postponed several times, due to the difficulty in lassoing all the key players and herding them into the same “remote” venue. Press releases had been prepared for weeks. In the meantime, as the fates would have it, an unprecedented global melt down within the financial sector occurred. BAM! See all the VCs scurrying back into their little dark holes.

The bleak winter of 2008. The adoring VCs had altogether disappeared. Several hundred thousand dollars in pending CenTradeX sales evaporated overnight. I had begun the process of semi-retirement. Recently divorced after a 30-year marriage, as in the musical Oliver, I was indeed “reviewing the situation”. After some extended beachfront soul searching in Florida, I crafted a plan.

WTD Backstory- Part 2; My Early Days with CenTradeX

This article continues a series of articles that chronicle my (Robert Thompson) personal and professional journey into the International Trade arena as well as the background of

We weren’t really attempting to construct an IT solution to a meet a specified market need or sell to a particular industry segment. We wanted to revolutionize the way people looked at world trade, craft beautiful, easy-to-use user interfaces, integrate sources and types of trade data that had never been wedded heretofore and level the world-wide playing field by making essential trade information available and understandable to all, not just through self proclaimed “high priests” and commercial middle men.

In the beginning, many of the players in our small Trade Made Easy had to wear many hats: graphic designer, database administrator, programmer, researcher, copywriter, web developer, hardware engineer, and office administrator – typical for start-up enterprises. We worked for almost four years, through three major iterations of development, before launching the first commercial version of the product.

CenTradeX Logo.

Just as we were preparing to announce our new baby to the world, our financial partner had a severe set back and was forced to pull out. Having worked on a “shoe string” budget for almost four years, investing every dollar I had, left with zero reserve (and a family of six) it was tough going. One concerned “supporter” once asked me, “When are you finally going to give up” (and get a job)? I replied, “When they pry the server from my cold, dead hands.”

However, empowered by 110% belief and passion in the product and the encouragement of a supportive community, I forged ahead. I had a simple marketing plan. If I could make 100 presentations/product demonstrations within a year, I’d have a solvent business. I branded the new company, “CenTradeX” (Center – Trade – X marks the spot where the world and commerce meet). Our motto became “The Center for World Trade and Business Intelligence.”

Belmont University was the First CenTradeX customer

The first sales were to our local Universities: Belmont, TSU, Vanderbilt, and MTSU in 2004. The professors of international business had never seen anything that compared to the likes of our CenTradeX interface.

We were introduced to many of our subsequent customers, trade educators, trade consultants, government trade offices and trade associations through NASBITE – National Association of Small Business and International Trade Educators.

Our expenditures in research and development as well as philanthropy always trumped other (commercial) concerns. Over 20% of our gross sales was re-invested in development. Another 20% was set aside for philanthropy through various sponsorship activities we became involved in. Although we grew fast, we were always handicapped by the lack of expansion capital, infrastructure and sales force. Notwithstanding, we became recognized as a leading innovator in the field of international trade technology.

PIERS StatsPlus™ Attempts to Transform Trade Statistics Into Intelligence

One of the latest additions to the PIERS arsenal of product offerings is called StatsPlus. Acquired from CenTradeX, inc. in May, 2010, this particular application represents a departure from their typical fare built upon waterborne import export manifest data. StatsPlus integrates U.S. import and export statistics, state export data, and global trade flow information together with global buyers and sellers underlying the statistics.

A little history: StatsPlus is the fifth iteration of a Trade Intelligence Product developed over a three year period from 2000 to 2003 by Nashville based CenTradeX.  The initial version, labeled Trade Made Easy, represented the first time State, U.S. and Global trade flow statistics had ever been integrated and presented in combination.  The following year, in TME 2.0, millions of trading companies -domestic and overseas- were added to the mix in an attempt to connect the actual players (importers and exporters) to the statistics that were represented by their trading activity.

The third iteration called SEEDS (State Export & Economic Development System) brought with it a significantly different user interface.  As the name implies, it was created for state based trading agencies – such as government export assistance offices, economic development organizations and world trade centers.  Although simpler in design and usage, as always there is a trade off between usability and depth. And while most customers embraced and celebrated the streamlined process of searching and reporting, a few loyalists mourned the loss of scope and detail.

The next significant, and rather revolutionary, development that occurred came as a result of a major contract with the State of Pennsylvania.  During an initial custom design project, CenTradeX expanded its SEEDS engine within the State’s international trade web portal. Working closely over a six month period their technology team, PR agency, web company, research firm, copywriters, consultants and way too many other “chefs” in the creative kitchen, the fourth iteration of Trade Made Easy was birthed  and lovingly named The Virtual Trade Advisor (VTA).

The PA VTA had many interesting attributes and enhancements:

  1. A “custom branded solution”, the VTA was invisibly and seamlessly woven into their existing web portal and conferred (by creating a value perception) millions of dollars of trade technology and development upon the State of PA trade office.
  2. It linked information about PA trade programs and services: its 12 domestic trade offices and 25 foreign correspondent offices into the system.
  3. Extensive user/interface testing was conducted to refine the steps and processes wherein manufactures and exporters would access and utilize the platform.
  4. A unique search engine was created. Two international product coding systems (SIC with HTS) were combined in an easy-to-understand hierarchal structure. A million word thesaurus of product identifiers was linked with corresponding HTS  codes, and dynamic search results were instantaneously displayed along with ranked product alternatives.
  5. One corresponding click created a dashboard of reports showing potential foreign buyers/suppliers, market research and competitive intelligence.
The fifth incarnation, titled PIERS StatsPlus, retains the slick visuals, colorful graphics and dynamic charting capabilities that were always inherent in all the CenTradeX interfaces. But now with UBM resources, Oxford trained management and hearty PIERS sales muscle behind it, Stats Plus is sure to see sizable growth and market penetration in the months ahead.

Stay Smart about Trade Intelligence using WTD RSS Feeds, E-mail Subscription, Twitter & LinkedIN.

Receive our RSS Feed(s).  You can easily receive RSS feeds from listing recently published articles.  It’s a great way to keep current on the latest news, views and Who’s Who in Trade Intelligence.  You simply reference the following URL’s for the particular feed(s) you are interested in:

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LinkedIN: If you are a Trade Intelligence Professional, let’s stay connected via LinkedIN: you can search and find me by utilizing the same handle: WorldTradeDaily  All WTD “tweets” are automatically posted there as well.  

WTD International Trade News of the Week. Pick of the Litter Series, vol. # 4

This week’s batch of articles from our friendly neighborhood TI sources at home and abroad features a wide variety of good looking breeds to select from: Digital Literacy, Export Excellence Awards, “Reconditioning” Food (EEEK!), Top Ten Global “Green” companies and some interesting facts about sugar and shrimp (not referring to terms of endearment / pet names used by couples to refer to each other).

From the U.S. Commerce Blog: Digital Literacy: Initiative Aims to Help Americans Build Online Skills. “We live in an Internet economy where high-speed Internet access and online skills are necessary for seeking, applying for, and getting today’s jobs. will help Americans build the online skills needed to fully share in the benefits of broadband, including developing workforce skills, finding reliable healthcare information, or designing a website.”  Now-a-days Digital Literacy is more necessary than knowing how to use a hammer, saw and screwdriver.   Yea, Geeks rule!

From International Trade Law News: Winners of 2011 Presidential “E” Awards for Export Excellence Announced. Congratulations to the 27 companies and organizations that received the prestigious 2011 Presidential “E” Awards for export excellence today.  The “E” Award, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is the highest U.S. government recognition any American entity may receive for supporting export activity.  Yea, Pete O’Neil and his crew at the Pennsylvania Center for Trade Development, Harrisburg, PA… You Rock! (Business associates and clients). 

From Customs and International Trade Law Blog: Reconditioning Imported Food Refused by the FDA.  Often the FDA does not allow the food to enter the United States by declaring it to be misbranded or adulterated by filth or decomposition.  Virtually always, refused food is then either destroyed or exported from the United States. There is a little known, but valuable, option called “reconditioning”.  O.K., I’ll be checking at my local Kroger next to the “generic” aisle for reconditioned food…NOT!

From Global Edge Blog (Post on original Forbes article)Top 10 Global Green Companies. The number one is LG Electronics in South Korea.  Other companies highlighted around the world include Adidas in Germany. I think I’ll run right over and buy another TV. 

From the good folks at USDA -ERS (Economic Research Service): Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States (FATUS). New monthly AG Data released and ready for download on the food we buy and the food we sell.   Does it strike anyone else as strange that the organization that collects and publishes data about our food stuffs is named “Fat Us”?  Is it some kind of not so subtle indictment that is aimed at us individually, or us (U.S.) nationally ? Is it meant to be a self-depreciating term, acknowledgment to hungry, struggling economies of the world of our gluttonous consumerism?  Me, I take it personally and respond, “Fat on you too!”

Ironic additional post by above Food folks: Are Competitors’ Free Trade Agreements PuttingU.S. Agricultural Exporters at a Disadvantage? “Empirical evidence shows Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) increased trade among member countries, suggesting that the large number of FTAs that do not include the United States may be eroding the U.S. presence in foreign markets.”  One member of a Tunisian delegation once commented to me while complaining that U.S. “subsidized” grain exports were all but destroying his domestic agricultural industry and building lasting dependence, “FOOD IS POWER”.  There are always many ways to see and describe the “truth”. “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics”.   Statistics show that you will either believe this or you won’t.  

Back to Commerce: Anita Ramasastry, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance. “Recently, I was asked to establish a new initiative focused on preventing corruption in global trade.  My work on anticorruption attempts to tackle one of the largest trade barriers and problems in global trade.”  Her boss, President Obama has spoken of the devastating cost of corruption. And the need for change: “In too many places, the culture of the bribe is a brake on development and prosperity.” Best of luck and success Caped Crusader. Gee, I’ve done considerable business in China and never recognized corruption to be a problem.  Then again, for the most part, I’ve lost  a lot of money there.  Huì qì? Bu cong ming? Tai Lao?  Wo bù zhīdào.  

From U.S. Census (Global Reach) Blog: The Fruit of the Sea. “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it…” In the aftermath of the 2010 oil spill, exports of frozen shrimp from the gulf sharply decreased. Louisiana’s frozen shrimp exports dropped 75% from April to June 2010. Despite those losses, markets have rebounded and shrimp exports are back to pre-oil spill levels.  Go shrimp, go! 

Ending on a sweet note; from the food folks at USDA-ERS once again: Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook.

Recent Interesting Blogs from Datamyne’s Mine of Data and Posts; PoL v#3.5

Datamyne leads the pack of TI providers in the use of social media. They publish over 200 articles a year on various aspects of world trade data and application. Since we will have featured a couple of articles about them this week, it seems fitting to fetch a few yummy feeds from their blog kitchen-like we do for our weekly Pick of the Litter series.  In this case perhaps better entitled Best of Breed.  Anyway, here are some samples published within the last 90 days:

Topping the list must be the article heralding the release of Datamyne’s new interface cleverly named Datamyne 2.0. Also, available for viewing is a video demo of their new product.

Since they use frozen tilapia as the chosen product (from tens of thousands of possible candidates) to demonstrate the power of their new interface, their recent blog post “Cluck-cluck Cutlet of the Sea” about tilapia is appropriate. Wow, Americans consume 1/2 billion pounds of Tilapia per year. For more fishy facts, check out this post.

From fish to fruit, this post indicates that the U.S. buys 37% of all the fruit exported by Chile with neigh to half a million metric tons of table grapes consumed annually. My daughter loves grapes. Every week, we buy several pounds for her alone. We like to do our part in supporting the global economic growth of our southern cousins. Top Pick: Chilean Fresh Grapes

This recent blog post on Selling Med Equipment in Brazil highlights Datamyne’s capacity to look into the trading patterns of other markets particularly those of Latin America. With the exception of PIERS, no other TI provider (to my knowledge) collects and disseminates transactional data of this sort. This is great for U.S. Exporters who are looking for markets to the south.

Who’s Open for Business? World Bank’s annual report is a treasure trove of free information. This is an interesting post that references a report on 183 countries that ranks the overall ease in doing business overseas. For instance, it takes an average of 7 documents, 17 days and $1,730 per container to comply with the governmental procedures required to export a shipment from the U.S. to Brazil.

Americas Barometer 2010– Taking the measure of democratic values and the impact of the downturn, do our Latin American Neighbors believe Free Trade Works? This blog article, featuring a attractive and descriptive graphic, charts the percentage of people (organized by country) that think “free trade” has helped their economy. What do you think? Does it?

TI Professional Lisa Wallerstein, V.P. Product Development & Marketing for Datamyne

I’ve known Lisa Wallerstein for 7 or 8 years.  I first met Lisa when she was employed by PIERS in a similar position as the one she now holds with Datamyne- Vice President of Product Development and Marketing.

Back in the day, she was one of the voices calling for product innovation and development.  Trying to spark change within an aging behemoth corporation can be challenging.  I think she was perhaps, at the time, the most valuable asset PIERS possessed.

She is, and has been, on a continued quest to “connect the dots” of International Trade Data in order to provide enhanced dimension, transparency and practical utilization to clients.  One of her most impactful projects, while she was with PIERS, was to link D&B company data to the daily shipping manifests.  By so doing, users could more accurately identify the actual trading partners (buyers and sellers) beneath the numbers.  Another project she shepherded was weaning clients off of PIERS’ monthly CD distribution of the data in favor of online access.

Ms. Wallerstein represents an example of a firm conviction I’ve formed from my 10+ years in the industry; that people are THE invaluable, irreplaceable facet of  “intelligence” behind Trade Intelligence.  The value inherent in TI products can never be reduced to simply technology and data.

Many times people like Lisa are plagued, in whatever corporate context they find themselves, with an uphill battle like Sisyphus… struggling to convince management of the merits of their new ideas and the need for innovation.  However, when the “powers that be” finally give “buy in” and support product development with the needed resources, revolutionary results can be achieved.

In her short 18-month tenure at Datamyne (following a short stint with McGraw Hill), Lisa–along with Brendan R. McCahill (former CEO of PIERS, now CEO at Datamyne)- has been able to work her magic again with the recent release of a new TI product, one she promises, “will make searching trade data easy”.

The international trade marketplace has changed drastically over the last several years.  There are many new competitors in the Trade Intelligence field as well as increasing global economic pressures.  The growth and survival of PIERS, Datamyne and other TI mainstays might well depend upon swift and accurate product innovations and other “value added” services that are developed in response to changing client requirements.

Datamyne Launches Their New Trade Intelligence User Interface- Datamyne 2.0

Datamyne, Uruguay based TI Provider, with U.S. headquarters in Miami, recently announced the launch of their new interface under the name Datamyne 2.0. My personal opinion is that products should each carry their own identifier, even if preceded by the company title such as Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Jeep Renegade.  A product name should give clients a taste of the character and attributes of the product they own.  Fortunately, a summary review of Datamyne’s new interface proves more innovative than the name implies. So for my own amusement, in this article I will refer to Datamyne 2.0 as D2.

D2 comes in two sizes: one that looks at markets (particular countries’ import/export patterns) using aggregated statistical data. That’s the leaner D2 Jr.  And the more hefty hunk of an interface, handsome D2 senior, that provides subscribers drill down capability to fetch and report on individual BOLs – Bills of Lading.

Lisa Wallerstein serves as Datamyne’s Vice President of Product Development and Marketing. She, along with a talented group of Latin American technologists located in Montevideo, developed Datamyne 2.0 over the last 6 months in response to, and in collaboration with, client’s feedback and suggestions.  She reported that Datamyne 2.0 “was built around the workflow of our customers” in an attempt to make “searching trade data easy”.

Glamour shot featuring D2 with some lovely graphics

D2 is up against several other contenders for TI market dominance, including Zepol, Import Genius, and Panjiva as well as a host of wanna be bottom feeders.  Of course their biggest challenge comes from the dominant species, the 500 pound gorilla of TI providers: UBM Global /PIERS.  (BTW, PIERS names their products: “Prospects”, “TI”, “StatsPlus”, “MyPiers”, “iPiers”, “Trade Finance”.  Granted,  “I”, “My” or “TI” are not the most inspired of naming conventions either.)

D2 has some cool features. The logic behind the interface seems to be built with the end user in mind.  The process follows a well marked path that an average dummy (like me) might take to search, sift, organize and report on the information they’re looking for.  The interface appears well laid out; trimmed in eye pleasing green and blue with ample white space and easy to follow navigational elements.  Another neat feature is that a user can “save” his or her query (question) as an “alert” which will consequently send out an email notification when new data arrives. User reports can be directly exported anywhere along the process to Excel along with graphic representations of the data.

Congratulations to Datamyne on their new product launch and their contribution to the expanding and exciting world of Trade Intelligence.

Finally, check out this 4 minute YouTube Datamyne video featuring the highly acclaimed and handsome hunk of an interface, D2. By the way, has a substantial library of TI videos.  You can access them via our VodPod widget conveniently located in the right navigational area on this website.

WTD features: U.S. Customs Data, Foreign Sourcing and Datamyne 2.0 Launch reports daily on the World of Trade Intelligence: the information suppliers, their products, types and kinds of trade data, business applications, and most importantly, the real intelligence behind trade intelligence – people.  We’ll start this week by looking at a new product.

Several weeks ago, Datamyne announced the launch of their new interface, Datamyne 2.0. According to Lisa Wallerstein, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, their new Trade Intelligence product, “makes searching trade data easy”.

Datamyne, founded in Uruguay in 1992, established its U.S. headquarters in Miami in 2005 with financing provided by venture capital group Nassau Point Investors.  A veteran trade intelligence provider with 120 employees, they offer access to trade information in 48 countries.

In their basic entry level package, subscribers search and report on aggregated statistical trade flow data that highlights the markets that are growing or declining as well as specific volumes and values on 20,000 plus commodities.

Premium users get additional features.   Called Datamyne “Cargo”, subscribers can drill down to the specific details on individual shipments.  By sifting through shippers Bills of Lading (BOL), U.S. manufacturers thus identify and vet potential foreign suppliers of raw materials or components (Foreign Sourcing).  Further, they can see which sources their competitors buy from (Competitive Intelligence).

Datamyne’s new interface was developed over a six month period following extensive interaction and collaboration with their existing clients.  As Ms. Wallerstein further reports, “Datamyne 2.0 was built around the work flows of our customers… how they like to access and use the data.”

The U.S. imports far more goods than it exports (trade balance).  Along with this unchanging reality, American manufacturing has been on the decline for decades.  Instead, we turn to more economical foreign sources for goods (and services). With these trends in mind, Datamyne’s mainstream clientele are using the interface to assist in foreign sourcing.

This week at, we will explore:

  • Trade data and how it is used to help U.S. manufacturers and distributors find new sources for their raw materials and product components.
  • U.S. Customs (AMS) waterborne shipping manifest (BOL) import data – what it can tell you and what it can’t.
  • A deeper look at Datamyne’s new Trade Intelligence product, Datamyne 2.0.
  • Lisa Wallerstein and her impact on the World of Trade Intelligence.
  • Continuation of our Pick of the Litter series, fetching our favorite trade related blog posts and articles from the web.
  • Part 2 of WTD Back Story reflecting on the early days of CenTradeX, which became a major innovator in the field.

WTD International Trade News of the Week. Pick of the Litter Series, vol. # 3

This weeks pick of the litter series features some interesting articles from the World of Trade.  Hope you find them useful.

China Wrap Up with Lew Cramer – Part 2. In the second installment of the two-part video discussing the recent Governor’s Trade Mission to China, World Trade Center Utah President and CEO Lew Cramer shares his thoughts on export opportunities with China.

DOT Stimulus Payouts Near $28 Billion Department of Transportation payouts to states for infrastructure projects from the 2009 stimulus law reached $27.8 billion as of April 29. The DOT has yet to disburse $20 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Commerce’s Chief Economist: ESA Releases Report on ‘U.S. Trade in Private Services‘ The report shows that the United States has consistently run a record services trade surplus that is driving overall exports growth and topped half a trillion dollars in 2010.

U.S. INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES – March 2011 March exports of $172.7 billion and imports of $220.8 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $48.2 billion. The March 2010 to March 2011 increase in exports of services was $2.7 billion. Another post on the trade deficit, including a graph is offered up by Global Reach.

Is This China’s Last Trade Surplus? The return to a monthly surplus will likely accentuate pressure from the US for China to alter its yuan policy, but there are other forces at work which will drive both upward and downward pressure on China’s trade balance.

Italy: Deeper structural reforms, fiscal consolidation will strengthen Italian recovery The Italian economy is continuing to recover from the very deep recession that it shared with most OECD countries.

U.S. Census Bureau Released Most Detailed Data Yet from 2010 Census The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau has begun releasing the most detailed data yet from the 2010 Census. The release includes more than 150 data items. The Census Bureau has also created an interactive map so you can explore the data down to the city level.

ITA’s FTA Tariff Tool combines tariff and trade data into a simple and easy-to-search public interface. Using the Tool, users can see how U.S. and FTA partner tariffs on individual products—searchable by keyword or tariff code—are treated under an agreement.

Online Product Sourcing Fairs Globalsources has just launched their first 3 Online Product Sourcing Fairs, in conjunction with their Hong Kong series of China Sourcing Fairs. Full press release on this article can be viewed here.

Global Strategies Get Localized – an article on globalization posted by globalEDGE International Business Blog. Language is a barrier that can be difficult for companies to overcome when looking to expand globally. There are countless horror stories of ‘translations gone wrong’ from companies entering new markets.

How to Make International Sales without Leaving Home. A best-kept secret is that domestic trade shows are great places to meet and sell to international buyers. With almost 40 International Buyer Program shows to choose from many U.S. businesses will find one that’s suited to them.

Secretary Locke Addresses Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in the United States and the Current State of U.S.-China Commercial Relations. A new study that shows Chinese foreign direct investment in America doubling in each of the last two years.

How To Get The Most Out of World Trade Daily as an ACTIVE Reader

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The professor of entrepreneurism in the School of Business at the Vanderbilt University here in Nashville once commented to me, “The most valuable commodity in the information age… the only one that has exponentially increasing value… is time.”

Thank you for the investment of your time.  May it return you manifold benefit.

WTD Backstory- Part 1; My Personal Journey Into the International Trade Arena

This article begins a series of articles that chronicle my (Robert Thompson) personal and professional journey into the International Trade arena as well as the background of

I’ve always been fascinated by the world of Trade. When I was a college student, I remember culling through the latest Almanac lists detailing country import & export figures just for fun during Christmas break, while everyone else was engaged in familial celebration.

I was also a student of the scriptures “back in the day”. The epic stories describing the historic rise and fall of this or that world power intrigued me. Many times I noticed aspects of trade would be mentioned. Typically, the prosperity of a particular kingdom was founded upon its ability to acquire and sell goods to other kingdoms. The wealth of the government, transportation providers and merchants were contingent upon successful trading.

It was a circuitous route that led me into the Trade profession. Propelled by an idealist’s vision to “impact the world”, I got a B.F.A. in Cinematography and an M.A. in Marketing Communications. Being somewhat of a rouge genius, I pursued the life of an entrepreneur early on. Amidst the litter of a handful of discarded business start-ups, I pioneered what became the largest independent motion-picture studio in Los Angeles.

For reasons I shall leave unmentioned, I abandoned this $25 million dollar enterprise to seek my fortunes elsewhere; first as the founder/director of a small offshore emerging market investment fund during the birth of the Chinese stock markets in the early 90’s. It was the Wild, Wild East of burgeoning capitalism. I visited many of the initial 26 companies listed on the Shenzhen or Shanghai stock exchanges. “To get rich is glorious!” was creed du jour.

Chinese symbol for loyalty

Thereafter, I diligently studied Chinese and got involved in several import – export opportunities. I recall my first import: an entire container packed with 36 8K Diesel generators, which I distributed during the Y2K fiasco. Scarier than a possible Y2K disaster was wiring $36,000 to folks in Hubei that I had never met in person… then anxiously waiting 6 weeks to see if my generators would actually arrive. It was also intriguing that even a tiny U.S. start-up (like me) could negotiate an exclusive distribution deal with a billion-dollar Chinese multi-national corporation.

I’ve also always been a technologist. My first job, as a 10 year old earning 50 cents an hour, was as a keypunch verifier for my mother’s data processing business in Dallas, Texas. As the Internet became a viable medium of exposition, communication and commerce, I sought ways to set up my particular fruit stand along the information highway. In the late 90’s a handful of other “rogues” and myself conducted some rather interesting (and wildly successful) experiments in the “new” area of SEO and Internet marketing. In one particular venture, we grossed $800,000 within about 10 months.

My reoccurring need for start-up capital led me to a veteran real-estate investor/philosopher in Nashville. Our interests aligned within the arena of International Trade information and technology. Subsequently, we created the company Trade Made Easy in the Spring of 2000, which endeavored to offer a missing “value added” component to readily available, inexpensive but obtuse trade statistics and reports. Four years of development resulted in a revolutionary way to put together and deliver trade data.

U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Data: Perspective is Everything

Yes, creativity and technology are slowly being applied to the world of world trade data.  Back in the day, the only way you could fetch a good look at shipment manifests was by pouring through a stack of CDs each month and viewing row after row of roughly hewn data. Heck, that was only 10 years ago.  CenTradeX was the first to merge, integrate, marry, correlate disparate data systems together.  In addition, it was the pioneer in developing easy to use graphic  interfaces and powerful visual reports.

When I began in the Trade Intelligence field in the year 2000, it was incredulous to me that NO one had ever layered global statistics with U.S. statistics.  It seemed like a no brainer to me.  We kept adding layer upon layer (of statistical, referential and company data) in order to develop a more 3-D versus flat perspective of international trade.  Another remarkable thing to me was how misunderstood and undervalued trade data was and to a large extent still is.

Trade Intelligence is at the helm of the wheel that navigates $12 trillion dollar worth of imports and exports annually.  It would stand to reason that more people would respect and want to unleash the full power and potential contained within the kernels of trade data. Many new providers are coming on the scene touting cheaper and cheaper access to the U.S. Customs Waterborne Import Data (see last weeks article “TI Transformation; Data into Information into Knowledge into Intelligence into Application“).

Most offer very rudimentary search utilities to access and manipulate the same data.  This proliferation and commoditization of the U.S. Customs data only reinforces the         common marketplace perception of its uselessness and worthlessness. Yet, when used creatively and skillfully, in combination with other data sources can make huge impact to the bottom line.  Overall, competition is good.  Many times it forces positive innovation and change.  However, it can also kill it.

Many years ago, during the reign of the “old guard” at PIERS, we (CenTradeX) met with the executive team in order to discuss joint venture opportunities.  After thorough review of our CenTradeX applications – which dynamically integrated many global, U.S., State Statistical sources as well as Global, U.S. and China company information databases, it was remarked, “All that would be a good SUB-SET to our U.S. Waternorne Import Data”.  Suffice to say that a deal was not forthcoming.

The “new guard” at PIERS is hemispheres away from that way of thinking.  John Day, CEO UBM Global Trade and Gavin Carter, CIO UBM and at the helm of PIERS, are sharp, forward thinking, global minded trade intelligence professionals.  Since the recent installment of their new management team, complete overhaul of their legacy IT systems, and acquisition of innovative trade intelligence applications from CenTradeX in 201o, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Notwithstanding, they and other reputable Trade Intelligence providers are under pressure from the bottom-fishers who are only interested in turning data into quick dollars at the expense of long term viability.  Such forces will only serve to stagnate growth and development, IMHO.

PIERS Prospects™ – Prospecting For International Buyers and Sellers

Almost a year ago today, May 5, 2010. PIERS officially purchased certain CenTradeX Assets, primarily several software Trade Intelligence Applications including PIERS Prospects. Importantly they also hired key CenTradeX technology staff, namely Chuck Wigand, Jared Guy and David Burks. After the sale was completed, the newly acquired tech team went to work on wiring up the Prospects application to the PIERS database engine. PIERS had spent considerable resources over the previous 18 months overhauling their legacy systems with newer, “beefier” technology. Perhaps the rewiring task was not as complicated as open heart surgery, but it was certainly more difficult than replacing an automobile engine. Anyway, winter that same year, they were ready to launch.

Prospects is unique in the world of Trade Intelligence. It combines many data sources into one easy to use graphic interface. U.S. Customs Waterborne Import data is matched with D&B Company information as well as various statistical sources. In addition, PIERS adds their proprietary export data (at this point they are the ONLY game in town able to offer data on daily exports) as well as some supplemental referential databases. One of the coolest things about Prospects is that all this data, from individual shipment detail to highly aggregated summary, is searchable by product, company, or region.

I haven’t utilized the system since the acquisition but have made a cursory review of the wrappings. A couple things stood out. There is a well put together product brochure: Prospects Product Brochure . They created a fairly comprehensive training video you can view (after providing a bit of summary information): Prospects Training Video. They also offer live on-line training several times a week. Overall, good support I think. One change I noticed is that the user interface comes armed with additional search features that allow for more specificity. Thankfully, it seems to have maintained it’s signature graphic appeal and efficient engineering. I will soon put it through the paces and give it a full evaluation… and let you know the details.

A bit of history and background. Initially, Prospects was an iteration of one of our (CenTradeX) applications called “SEEDS” (State Export and Economic Development System). At the time, our primary markets were to state trade offices, world trade centers, trade associations, educational institutions and other non-profits. A friend and business associate, Jack Fain, who at the time was Vice President for Panalpina (a major NVOCC), worked closely with us to modify SEEDS to function as a prospecting tool for his U.S. Sales force. It took several months of dialoging back and forth with his sales team and handfuls of revisions, but Prospects was the result.

Several other global supply chain folks added their two cents over the subsequent year or two, but the result is an application that was built with the customer in mind because a customer(s) designed it. PIERS Prospects therefore is THE ideal prospecting tool. It has been and is being used by many companies within the International Trade Industry to pinpoint buyers of their particular products or services. You can find out more about the features of PIERS Prospects by visiting their website. PIERS Prospects Information.

If you have used (or are using) PIERS (or previously CenTradeX) Prospects please comment on your experience with the product.

Great news! SMEs get export ABCs at the DOC ITA’s local CS’s branch of the EAC… that is IF you can find your way thru the Labyrinth of Acronyms

Initially navigating the choppy waters of international trade is made more difficult by the nomenclature, obtuse product classification schemes and the long list of important acronyms to memorize. For instance, there are many valuable resources available from the U.S. government to assist the would be exporter as well as those who wish to expand upon their existing markets overseas. Finding those resources can be a challenge. It’s like being dropped off in a strange land with no knowledge of the language and trying to get around. Getting what you want and getting where you want to go is most frustrating.

Department of Commerce Logo

In this article, we’ll attempt to demystify one behemoth source of potential export assistance… as well as define a couple of the acronyms.

George Washington established the first cabinet departments of the United States of America. On February 14, 1903, a new cabinet was formed, The Department of Commerce (DOC) and Labor, as the national arm for economic development.  One of their tasks became to gather data to assist businesses and thereby help to create more jobs.

International Trade Administration

In 1980, the DOC established a new agency, The International Trade Administration (ITA), to promote exports overseas. Further, the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) was formed as the trade promotion arm of the DOC’s ITA.

The U.S. Commercial Service (CS) employs trade professionals through local offices (USEAC – United States Export Assistance Centers) in over 100 U.S. cities with corresponding foreign offices in nearly 80 countries for the purpose of helping small to medium sized companies get started in exporting or increasing sales to new global markets.

U.S. Commercial Service

Their services include:

  • Market Intelligence to help U.S. exporters target the right market (s) for their products and services.
  • Trade Counseling to provide them with the information they need to navigate the export process from beginning to end.
  • Business Matchmaking services to connect them with the right partners and prospects.
  • Trade Advocacy for U.S companies to level the international playing field for international procurement.

Export Dot GOV

The U.S. Commercial Service uses, the Government’s export portal, as its main online resource. It’s a good resource for market research, trade events, trade leads, and information on how to export.  Country Commercial Guides prepared by their foreign offices and published annually by the U.S. Commercial Service provide general information about the fastest growing markets and industries.

Other resources you may find helpful (listed in no particular order) include:

Dean Peterson, Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Nashville

Mr. Peterson has been helping businesses in the International Trade field for more than half a century. Dean’s office is one of the hundred plus centers deployed by the U.S. Commercial Service across the country.  Typically, he counsels over 100 companies throughout Middle Tennessee each year.

Whether a company is “new to export” or wants to further expand their international reach, the resources available through the Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration branch offices, such as Dean’s USEAC, can be of tremendous assistance.

USEAC maintains access to many third party Trade Intelligence statistical and company data sources including WiserTrade, GTIS, PIERS, D&B, and Kompass that may be cost prohibitive for small companies to purchase for themselves.

They are also well versed in a plethora of other resources and services that are available through the U.S. government to aid exporters.

Each USEAC has direct links to global field offices in over 80 countries and can help facilitate a matchmaking process called “Gold Key Service”.  These foreign correspondent offices serve to provide “on-the-ground” intelligence on specific industries and potential buyers in their respective countries.

Mr. Peterson has an impressive background. It began as a Commodities Analyst with the International Trade Commission.  (In the early 1960’s, this department was known as the Tariff Commission).

Within the private sector as Chief Economist at Nabisco, Dean spearheaded international market research and strategic planning. Thereafter, he did a stint with EBRD in London helping to rebuild the economic infrastructure of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Later, he rejoined the government sector and was assigned to the Michigan USEAC. Then on to Calgary, Alberta as their Commercial Officer before finally landing at the Nashville Export Assistant Center, where he has been for over a decade.

In addition to his impressive work in the field of international trade, Mr. Peterson has distinguished himself as a respectable economist particularly with regard to China and it’s role in global trade, finance and economy.

I greatly benefited from Dean’s sage advice during the early days of CenTradeX (a provider of innovative Trade Intelligence applications). Mr. Peterson helped me with invaluable counsel on the best data sources to pursue, understanding on the specific challenges of data integration and coding systems, a deeper understanding of the global marketplace as well as expanding my vision for the needs and opportunities that existed for development and innovation.

Dean Peterson is one of the many dozens of Trade Professionals I have come to know and respect during my tenure in the Trade Intelligence field.  I am convinced that Trade Data &amp Technology can never solely be relied upon to provide the complete picture.  It will always be up to trade professionals like Dean Peterson to help us transform information into profitable application.

WTD International Trade News of the Week – Pick of the Litter Series, vol. # 2

Well, this week’s Pick of the Litter had less pedigrees to choose from. In general, Department of Commerce News was dominated by Secretary Locke’s South Korea excursion. There a new Tariff Trade Tool that looked interesting. Yet another site offering “trade leads”… yawn. Maybe you have  some cool articles you think our readers would be interested in… If so, please send them. Anyway, what I could find of  import are listed below:

New Online Free Trade Agreement Tariff Tool Will Help Small Businesses Take Advantage of Export Opportunities Recent article on U.S. Census Bureau’s Blog, Global Reach. You should bookmark this site.

From Global Edge: A New Tool for Small Businesses with Global Goals:
“Over a quarter million small businesses in the United States export their products and services to other countries around the world. By doing so these businesses increase their revenues, broaden and diversify their customer base, and provide jobs for their local communities. The United States has set a goal to double exports by 2014…”

From Global Reach (U.S. Census Blog) Featured Video: A Quick Guide to the Foreign Trade Regulations. (taken from a series of Export Videos produced jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce) If you can stay awake for 6 minutes, it might be worth it.

A New Journal for Export Control Professionals was just announced on the Customs & International Trade Law Blog. Find out more by reading the article by Peter Quinter, Partner. The April 2011 publication contains the article entitled Good Practice: Responding to an OFAC Administrative Subpoena” (available only upon request).

How To Find Suppliers And Manufacturers Using The Internet New post listed on Blogspot that attests, “THIS INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS BLOG WILL PUBLISH NEW IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS TRADE LEADS THAT ARE RECEIVED AT OUR IMPORTEXPORTHELP.COM IMPORT EXPORT BUSINESS HELP CENTER WEB SITE.” Good luck with that. My experience with every trade lead site that I have ever seen is that they are almost always useless despite good intentions. The U.S. government spent many millions of dollars several years ago doing a joint venture with IBM, that proves the point.

The “Journal of Commerce” seems to have some good articles but they are locked up in the vault and only accessible to paid subscribers. 😦

Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Conclude Productive South Korea Meetings It’s a good thing to make new friends. I wonder though, did he like the food?

Trading with South Korea There was a lot of press on Secretary Locke’s trip to South Korea. I’m just grabbing two. There’s lots more on the Commerce blog site, if you’re interested. It would be a good Blog site to bookmark anyway.

Census Bureau Reports the Number of Asian-Owned Businesses Increased at More Than Twice the National Rate Well, that’s kind of interesting. I guess that’s a reverse export of sorts.

World Trade Daily Vision and Mission

Trade data, along with the technology used in unearthing the inherent riches therein contained to make business decisions that involve $trillions of trade flows, is what is all about.

In the 10 years I was involved as founder and CEO of CenTradeX, I continually sought for ways to developed better methods for accessing, integrating and displaying world trade information. UBM Global Media/PIERS acquired the CenTradeX innovative software solutions May 2010. They ,along with other information suppliers, do much to further understanding and application of trade data. Notwithstanding, there continues to be a huge need for non-partial, non-commercial exploration and development.

My vision is to impact the world through innovation within the arena of International Trade by:

1. Leveling the playing field.

2. Providing free access to vital trade information and resources.

3. Developing new methods and venues to bridge the gap of understanding and application.

4. Creating and growing a community by providing a forum for free exchange among members.

5. Contributing my unique experience, talents and insights.

This vision, like a seed, begins the development of the WTD community, this blog, an open source (free) access to advanced technologies and vast data repositories. However to flourish, “my” vision must evolve into something more by the intertwined visions of other kindred spirits of common interest. To expand, it needs to become a communal vision, a viral entity. That is the nature and growth cycle of a vision, particularly a global one. It takes a village to grow a dream.

It’s about people, not politics. That’s why I love trade data. It has no prejudices. It’s global in scope. In encompasses the entire world. It loves those that love it. It benefits those who apply it without bias. It is can give insight and success to those who embrace the message and instruction buried in the (sometimes) obscure and detailed information.

I invite you to participate and contribute to this vision, to this community. You have something to offer and something that this community needs.

What we need foremost is an ongoing flow of content (articles) provided by suppliers, data users, consultants, technologists, teachers, analysts, trade specialists, etc. As the saying goes, “content is king!”

We need sponsors (advertisers, clients, benefactors) who will provide funds and /or in-kind exchange of data or tech services to update and expand our open source database access.

We need readers to get involved; comment, provide feedback and “spread the word” via their own social network and professional connections.

We need you.

Contribute to the WTD community while (gently) Promoting your Product /Service

We invite your input and involvement in the World Trade Daily Community! As they say, “it takes a village”. We  “launched” the WTD site May 1, 2011. It is our intention to provide fresh posts on a daily basis 365.25 days per year. Ideally, we will publish 1,000 posts annually by 2012.

Our goal is to develop a stable of 20 to 50 featured authors who would each contribute 1 to 4 posts per month, representing various facets of the WTD community; data users, suppliers, educators, consultants, practitioners, students, analysts, etc.

What’s in it for you?

Becoming a WTD Author offers you:

1. Increased visibility within the WTD Community and beyond including readers, other authors, suppliers, advertisers as well as your own social network.

2. An opportunity to “gently” promote your services and products.

3. Expanded network: we will be publishing each and every post via a plethora of social media sources… as well as attracting many visitors through our open source data repository and free analytical interface.

4. An opportunity to contribute your experience and insight to the world trade community; to “give something back”.

5. Possible eligibility to receive up to 70% off designated software applications and professional services. Please check out the range of our products and services.

Education: you’ll learn even more by sharing your thoughts. The best education is teaching. You will certainly benefit by the experience.

Your contribution is important even if you decide only to write 1 or 2 Posts a year. Check the WTD site for the areas of your knowledge and expertise and simply write something up and send it to us.

What are general posting guidelines?

  • Blogs should be pertinent to the WTD community and fall within the topical areas listed. However, you are free to suggest others topics.
  • They should be informative, interesting and generally non-commercial in nature. Some tasteful self promotion is fine though.
  • They are usually between 300 to 500 words in length, include a picture and can be listed in a maximum of 3 categories.
  • They should be professional, yet include a personal flavor. “Business casual” is the called for attire.

You’ll feel good about your contribution as an author.

What do you need to do?

Just contact me at   Welcome to the WTD community!

WTD Front Door Series: FITA the Federation of International Trade Assoc.

FITA is one of the MEGA resource web sites for international trade. It’s been around since 1984, almost 30 years. It was originally started to link all the various associations that are somehow involved in world trade in one place. There are over 450,000 such organizations! The term ” link” may be somewhat euphemistic and misleading. Notwithstanding, Barney Lehrer, head honcho of FITA for 20 years, reports that 3,000 folks come to the site everyday, which ain’t bad at all!

According to their website, these associations include “manufacturers, trading companies, contractors, freight forwarders, custom house brokers, airlines, shipping companies, port authorities, banks, insurance brokers, (trade) associations and a wide range of (other) service providers…” Wow, that is a lot of freakin’ associations. Just about covers anybody who’s anybody in the world trade arena.

So what does the FITA site have to offer? Well, you name it. Think of it as a huge, electronic social worker who attempts to match existing resources to a client’s particular need(s). Or, if you like, the grand central station of links that are related to international trade. But how do you find what you’re looking for (easily and quickly) and not get lost along the way?

Well, there is an array of links on the left hand site: 25 – but who’s counting?  One called “Really Useful Links” takes you to a page of 30 other links. BTW, maybe there should be a heading entitled “Really Irrelevant Links”, but I do digress. Anyway, the – let’s call it “parent page” with 30 links (25 for the grandparent) takes you to other “child” pages with from about 4 to 50 (although I confess I didn’t follow them all) pages with links. Well, of course there are grandchildren and great grandchildren… but you get the picture: one super huge (occasionally somewhat happy) International Trade Family.

Is there a better way to organize hundreds of thousands of links and organizations and people and reports and products and services? Nothing comes to mind. Keeping track of all those links and making sure they are constantly updated is no small task. Accolades go to Barney Lehrer, a former professional musician, for bringing harmony and grace to the occasionally chaotic trade world.

Big News: He and his partner have recently launched a new endeavor – one designed to formulate a virtual trade community – at It looks pretty cool. I haven’t dug into it yet but I promise I will soon and let you know what it is all about. Then again, you don’t have to wait… go there now and check it out for yourself.

WTD Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) engine, analytics and reporting tools.

One of the most significant achievements over the last decade was the progress made toward normalizing and linking disparate sources of world trade and company data… translating into plain English and understandable graphics. To that end, many custom applications were developed that “sat on top” of the (integrated) database collections.

There is always a tension between making trade data easy, quick and understandable… versus retaining detail, depth and versatility. They are sometimes mutually exclusive options. It really depends upon the intended use and the resources (time & money) allotted.

What we intend to provide, via WTD, is open source (free) access to our vast database repositories – some of which (such as the U.S. Customs /DHS U.S. waterborne daily import shipping manifest data) have been “run through” our sophisticated A.I engine… others like “bread and butter” statistical collections (from the U.S and other countries) have been linked and normalized as well as company and proprietary database collections.

Important to note though… is that the access we provide to these databases will primarily be through third party, open source business intelligence analytic and reporting software… NOT through one of our “custom” applications (easy-to-use user interfaces). While this affords the opportunity for greater versatility, depth and detail… it does require a steeper learning curve and investment of time.

The two current options to access these databases are: through an ad-hoc reporting tool called MYDBR or directly via SQL Server Reporting Services (special permission required).

The (temporary) link to our WTD MYDBR ad-hoc reporting tool can be accessed by clicking here: We will be a sending user names and passwords to subscribers once WTD is launched May 1. Please feel free to contact us for additional information.

MyMDR offers a free demo of their product which is available MYMDR documentation – on how to use the reporting tool – can be downloaded from our Google Docs site here

Although we plan to provide Open Source access to any and all WTD members, ultimately the ability to sustain and expand upon these resources will entirely depend upon support and sponsorship from the community… or whatever business model will make this possible.

We do intend to require members to a register and agree to basic parameters. In addition, we plan to employ a simple mechanism whereby other members in the WTD community can benefit from the research and reporting conducted within this open source (free) portal.

Open source (free) access WTD database repositories.

Give us this day… our daily data: As an integral aspect of the WTD community, we are planning to provide members’ access to the following trade data repositories:

• World Statistics: Annual trade flow data (imports & exports) garnered from (up to) 192 countries, years 1996 through 2008. All commodities organized by HS code – by 2, 4 & 6 digit detail- as well as summary tables.

• U.S. Statistics: Annual trade flow data (imports & exports) also organized by HS code – by 2, 4, 6, & 10 digit detail along with summary tables; years 1989 to 2009.

• State Export Statistics: Annual trade flow data organized by HS code – by 2, 4, 6 digit detail along with summary tables; years 2000 to 2008.

• U.S. company information; a rather extensive database, accumulated and refined over a decade, that details U.S. companies engaged in some aspect of world trade; exporters and importers as well as ‘service’ related entities.

• Global trading companies; gathered from many sources over 10 years highlighting importers & exporters as well as ‘service’ related entities.

• China company /statistic database; a huge, transactional database of Chinese trading companies – along with virtually EVERY import and export transaction (including the values of each shipment) from years 2000 through 2006. Translated and normalized into English.

• U.S. Customs waterborne manifest data: a mammoth, highly refined database collection detailing virtually every U.S. import (waterborne) shipment– on a DAILY basis – from January 1, 2006 though May 31, 2010; Millions of transactions per year with extensive detail on products, shippers (sellers), importers (buyers) and shipping data.

• Reference tables: Normalization and referential tables that serve to LINK the various databases referenced above as well as provide easy access to and /or understanding of obtuse data such as harmonized code language, trade nomenclature or obscure data fields.

As you can see, some of the databases (although very valuable) are out of date. As WTD grows and gains community support (and sponsorship), we will be updating many of the referenced data collections as well as expanding upon the list.

Robert Thompson, Editor-in-Chief, World Trade Daily

Written by Doyce Powell, a new virtual forum providing world trade data, corresponding technology, and business applications, will be launched on May 1, 2011. As a trailblazer of international trade information for two decades, Robert Thompson has become a major player whose efforts have been successful in reshaping the global economy and global trade technology.

In 2008, Thompson was the first recipient of the Global Corporate Leadership Award by the World Trade Center Association Committee on Peace and Stability through Trade. Since the early ’90s, he has had several successful international business ventures, including expanding the international trade markets of Nashville, Tennessee and opening the Greater Nashville Trade Center.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking from the University of Missouri-Columbia with the class of 1979. He earned a master’s degree from Regent University in marketing communication, TV, and film with the class of 1981. He had a successful career in entertainment that prepared him for the ventures ahead in the Global Market. Thompson taught at Regent, where he was responsible for setting up the film department.

In the early 1980s, Thompson established the largest independent film studio in Los Angeles with more than seventeen sound stages within 1,000,000 square feet. In 1993, he founded Big Picture Media – a diverse media production company – that he operated until 2000, when he started CenTradeX.

Robert Thompson built CenTradeX within ten years as a respected trade intelligence provider to the WTCA, U.S. Government, Foreign Agricultural Service, certain domestic commercial, and logistics affiliations.

In May 2010, UBM Global Trade announced its purchase of CenTradeX assets to compliment PIERS that was launched over 30 years ago by the Journal of Commerce and has become a primary source of U.S. waterborne trade information and a leader in global trade solutions. CenTradeX was chosen for its technology expertise, industry knowledge, and advanced data analytics according to John Day, CEO of UBM Global Trade.

May 1, 2011 Robert Thompson launches World Trade Daily.

WTD International Trade News of the Week. Pick of the Litter Series, vol. # 1

Pick of the Litter Series takes interesting odds and ends from various feeds and news sources about international trade. Last week, rummaging through the web trash, I pulled out these articles:

Lew Cramer’s Insights on China Trade Mission – Part 1 Features a 6 Minute Video interview. I actually know this guy from the WTCA (World Trade Centers Associations) member conferences I used to attend. He’s smart AND has a good sense of humor – rare to find.

Agriculture Programs Going Global Global Edge reports on an interesting trend with possibilities to expand markets for disadvantaged AG producers in developing countries.

Earth Day (April 22) Stats from the U.S. Department of Commerce Useful statistics that relate to Earth Day such as: more men carpool to work than women… so there. However, more women use public transportation than men… so there back. We all have got a long way to go.

Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies From U.S. Census Global Reach Blog a very interesting visual portrayal of import only /export only /import and export relationship. Very cool. A picture is worth, hmm, 999 words.

Datamyne 2.0 Yeah for Lisa and her PEERS (inside joke) at Datamyne for doing some kick ass innovation for their new product release. Anyway that’s the word on the streets. I’m looking forward to giving it a test run soon. Here’s the link to the intro: VIDEO.

Feed Grains Database offered by USDA Economic Research Service. Hey, if “feed grains” are your thing, then this data could be as sweet as a lover’s kisses. Really cool data is better than pizza.

International Trade Dictionary for Iphone and Ipad. Somebody help us. I’m already addicted to electronics, especially my iphone. Texting while driving will be the death of me yet. Now, a new distraction: “What’s in a name?”

Selling Med Equipment in Brazil Two references back to Datamyne… O.K. Lisa Wallerstein, you owe me lunch when I’m in Jersey or Miami or Uruguay or wherever the hell you are. Anyway, I really like this chart. It is colorful and communicates good information.  The blog header could use some creativity though…

Decline of the Easter Bunny I can’t resist this one. So, I’ll close this inaugural week’s Pick of the Litter Series with this one. Panjiva reports a decline in imports of Easter Bunny paraphernalia. Check it out, the graph has cute little bunnies on top of the bars, and not of the Harvey variety either.

One of my favorite things to do as a kid in Dallas, Texas was garbage picking. At least in the information age, my hands don’t get sticky and my clothes don’t stink. I still do some trash talking from time to time though.