Archive | October, 2011

On China, Part 1: Respect Confucianism’s Hierarchy, Taoism’s Nature & Buddhism’s Individual Responsibility

Japan is a gateway to Asia, but across the sea lies the world’s largest population toiling away to create the second largest economy in the world. China is on the rise looking to take advantage of good business opportunities and increase their presence in the global economy, as if we couldn’t already feel them. Are you looking to benefit from China’s tremendous growth?

First, some basics: Not only do they have the highest population and the second largest economy, but they are the oldest continuous civilization. China, while operating under a Communist political system, has liberalized its markets and expanded rapidly. Though do keep in mind that the Communist Party in China permeates through almost every facet of Chinese life including business. Politics play a significant role in Chinese business, for a rise in the company is also a rise in Chinese bureaucracy. The Chinese businessman’s primarily goal is to protect oneself and position instead of getting immediate business goals accomplished – business goals take a backseat to self-preservation. China is also notorious for violating Intellectual Property Rights, as they favor things made in China, and will use reverse engineering on your product to produce their own. So if your area is in technology, be aware that this is common.

Essentially a group oriented culture, there is a strong tradition of individual responsibility in China. While the Chinese still see your representatives as being exactly that, representatives of your company, they value the individual. This mentality originates from Mahayana Buddhism, which believes that individuals can obtain nirvana (peace/end of suffering) through hard work and sacrifice. Mahayana Buddhism stresses individual responsibility to achieving nirvana. The effect of this belief is that Chinese group orientation is not as strong. In this way they are similar to Americans who, while having a responsibility to their group or organization, also have a responsibility to themselves in achieving their state of nirvana. Dependency on others, in China, occurs when many individuals perform repetitive tasks to achieve a communal goal.

China adheres, like Japan and most of Asia, to the teachings of Confucius. Confucius’ belief in the rigid hierarchy in society is embedded from the meeting room to household: it dictates a respect for elders, the importance of saving face, honor, and humility. The emphasis on hierarchy normalizes inequality in China, where they believe it is natural that some are in power and others not, that some dictate and others follow. This passivity in the static nature of the world is rooted in one of the other major religions of China, Taoism. Taoism, known for the yin-yang symbol, teaches passivity (founding philosophy in martial arts), which is used as a justification for the static nature of the world. Due to their belief in this static nature of the world, they are unwilling to change for change’s sake and therefore it will take a lot of convincing for them to change their ways.

Trade News: From ICTSD: Aid for Trade Articles and Results

Aid for Trade: Showing results. There is a large and growing body of evidence (1) about the positive links between openness to trade and economic growth, which depending on its pace and pattern is important for sustained poverty reduction. (2) This virtuous relationship can be observed in many developing countries that have succeeded in expanding their domestic markets regionally or globally. Steady reductions in trade barriers have enabled these countries to rapidly integrate into the world economy through export-led industrialization thereby sharing the prosperity generated by globalization.

Third Global review of Aid for Trade: A snapshot of the outcome. Aid for Trade (AfT) is about getting trade to work for development. It assists countries and regions to benefit from the opportunities offered by the multilateral trading system in order to generate economic growth and promote poverty alleviation.

Does it work? Aid for Trade through the evaluation prism. In the early days after the Hong Kong Ministerial in December 2005, trade negotiators, especially from developing countries, gauged their success in Aid for Trade (AfT) merely by increases in amounts.  By this measure, the AfT initiative has indeed been successful, rising from $25 billion in 2005 to $40 billion today.

The achievements and risks of Aid for Trade. In a review of the 25 most important multilateral donors, the five regional development banks, and the 24 OECD bilateral donors, UNIDO found that the greater interest in trade and in Aid for Trade has brought a major increase in the number of donors and amounts.

An aide for Aid for Trade – Early findings and recommendations from country studies.  The WTO and the OECD have restricted their monitoring mainly to the global level and the project level, primarily through ‘case stories’, while overlooking AfT effectiveness at the national level, for which there have been many calls by numerous countries and experts.

Aid for Trade effectiveness: What do evaluations say? The Aid for Trade (AfT) initiative has been hailed as highly successful in raising the profile of trade as a tool for development. Developing countries have increasingly mainstreamed trade in their development strategies, while donors have responded by mobilizing additional resources for trade-related programs and projects (together referred to as operations).

Where Aid for Trade is failing and why: the example of Malawi. AFT is proving to be ineffective in countries that have failed to reconcile the trade and development spheres. What should be the response of the trade and development communities in such countries?

Aid for Trade : Success stories and lessons. Trade liberalization, in the context of the multilateral trading system (MTS) and regional integration processes, such as for instance, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), have provided African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries with many market access opportunities. However because of supply-side constraints including the lack of necessary infrastructure (roads, ports, telecommunication facilities…) and insufficient trade facilitation institutions, many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been unable to take advantage of these market access opportunities. Trade, which is yet often considered an engine of growth, has therefore not been fully used to spur economic growth in some of these countries.

Download an OECD PDF on Aid For Trade

Trade News: On China; Rare Earth Quotas, Currency, New M&A Rules

From Global Trade Alert: China: Establishment of a ministerial committee to evaluate M&As against the national interest.  The government of China announced the formation of a ministerial committee to evaluate mergers and acquisitions with respect to the national interest. Foreign investment maybe rejected on grounds of national interest or national security reasons in enumerated industries.  Entire PDF Report.

China: Second batch of export quota on rare earth for 2011.  The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced the 2011 second batch of export quota on rare earth. In accordance with the statement on MOFCOM website, 26 companies were accredited as qualified rare earth exporters for 2011.

From ICTSD: US, EU Press for China Currency Revaluation. Pressure is growing from the EU and US for China to loosen its strict control of its currency, particularly amid new reports of slowing Chinese trade growth.  US critics argue that the yuan is highly undervalued, and allege that this acts as an export subsidy that makes Chinese exports cheaper than their foreign counterparts – which, some argue, leads to the loss of American jobs.

Tensions have been building between the US and China over the currency issue since the Senate passed a bill on 11 October that targets countries that undervalue their currencies.  Chinese government officials warn that a “trade war” could result.

Chinese Farm Support Doubles, New Data Shows. China’s agricultural subsidies doubled between 2005 and 2008. While direct payments to farmers also nearly doubled, they still represent less than four percent of total farm support – in contrast to other WTO members such as the EU, where such payments account for a significant share of the subsidies provided to producers.  While in absolute terms China’s farm subsidies are now close to the levels provided by agricultural trading giants such as the US and the EU, on a per capita basis the country’s farmers continue to receive far less than their counterparts elsewhere.

From Global Sources: China exporters anticipate export growth despite challenges. Suppliers in China are optimistic about export sales in coming months even as they contend with pricing pressures.  Almost 40 percent of manufacturers said earnings from overseas shipments will jump by more than 20 percent through 2011 and early-2012. About a similar number placed the rate of increase between 10 and 20 percent. Only 2 percent of the makers contacted said exports will slow down in the months ahead.

From Silk Road International: So what’s China really like? Part 62704. “While China is a completely different place than it was 20 years ago, China isn’t really any different today than it was 16 years ago when I first arrived.  Yes, the infrastructure is MUCH better, but it’s not safer (high-speed rail).  Yes, there is much more money especially in cities, but crime and poverty are still dominant daily issues for most Chinese.  Yes, the standard of living has gone up for many, but the quality of life (food in particular) is horrible.  And connections are still the way the game is played.  Sometimes living in China can be great, sometimes scary and if you’re a buyer—you need to be doing QC 24/7 (eating, sleeping and dreaming about QC).”


Guest Blog: Doing Business in Japan – Meetings; Takin’ Care of Business

We now understand some facets of Japanese culture and have gone through business card (meishi) introduction protocols, now onto the meeting room.

In terms of attire, generally people who stand out are not thought of highly. With that being said, dark suits, white shirts, and subdued ties for men are appropriate. Also, polished shoes are something else you should consider, since they will be quite the focal point during meishi exchanges. For women, business suits or dresses at a conservative length are acceptable.

Hierarchy reigns: seniors, or those of highest rank, are greeted first, allowed to enter the room first, and are seated first. In terms of seating arrangements, wait to be seated, as these arrangements are usually thought out in advance. The most honored position is in the middle of the table (where a person of high rank would sit) and the second person of highest rank would be seated on the opposite side, guests of honor are seated farthest from the door in the middle of the table.

Meetings, especially first meetings, are typically formalities where information is exchanged and pre-made decisions are confirmed. This first meeting is an introduction to not only your company but you as a person. The Japanese consider business relationships and personal relationships as of equal importance. Your team should be well organized, each knowledgeable of all material, and understanding their roles in the business meeting. Should you and your team disagree with each other or seem unsure or uncertain, do not let the Japanese see this, as this will also create doubt in their minds about your projects or proposals. Additionally, changing terms of an agreement at the last minute implies unreliability and trustworthiness. Be sure to provide plenty of information that cannot be deduced, in additional translated materials to leave behind so as to answer any questions.

Though business meetings may conclude during the day, it is not uncommon to be asked to dinner or drinks after hours. Do not turn this down, as many business transactions occur after hours. The Japanese have two personalities: a personality for the office or formal situations – tatemae (tot-eh-mai), and a genuine personality where one expresses what he or she truly feels and believes –  honne (ho-ney). These after hour meetings allow you, the visitor, to gain the trust of your Japanese colleagues. It is also during these after hour meetings that useful information can be gained from lower ranking Japanese colleagues, where they may tell their American counterparts their boss’s true feelings concerning the business meeting. Do note, however, that women are not welcome where geisha are present nor are spouses expected to attend business dinners.

A playlist of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Journey, and Madonna, and some of your favorites on the flight over can help you brush up on your lyrics, for you may be asked to belt out your favorite song later in the evening.

You have to take care of business…even after hours.

Guest Blog: Continuing Series – Marketing on Online Marketplaces

In 1992 UNCTAD (the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) set up a network of “Trade Points,” worldwide offices set up to assist SMEs trade internationally. In 1994 the United Nations International Symposium on Trade Efficiency officially launched the Global Trade Point Network. It was planned to be an innovative system using email, “Gopher” and the then-new World Wide Web to communicate trade opportunities between Trade Points worldwide.

This ambitious project soon became viral. Within two years there were millions of “ETO’s” (Electronic Trade Opportunities). ETOs soon morphed into the term “trade leads” – offers to buy or sell internationally. By 1998 the Trade Point system claimed to have listed more than 1 billion leads. But the system had a major flaw: there was no quality control over the types of deals that were posted. Anybody with access to a computer would post a request to buy a product or service, even if they did not have the means to buy or the product to sell.

As the World Wide Web expanded, more people worldwide set up online marketplaces. Some were quite simple HTML pages with links. Others were more complex databases. By 1999 there were hundreds of these websites. In 2011 there are thousands. The most well-known are,,, and many more (you can find a list at

But to this day a big question remains: How do I know which marketplace to trust and how do I qualify the leads I find? There still is no clear answer to this. However, my personal opinion is that International Trade online has to be a combination of the old and the new. That is, online marketplaces are great tools to find suppliers and buyers, but import/export is still done the same way it always has been – spending time with people in other countries, getting to know them and their products, and developing long-term friendships and trust.

That said, there are ways that can help bridge the gap between the old and the “new:”

  1., a website funded and operated by the trade promotion organizations of Canada, Norway and Spain, eMarketservices provides knowledge and information about eMarkets in different industries all over the world. Although some of the information is dated, most of it can serve as a guide to doing business online. Highlights of the website are:
  1. Credit Reports – One you have established an online relationship with an overseas partner you might want to check him/her out a bit more. One way to do that is by running a credit report, preferably through a local credit reports service in their country. There is a good list of these services.
  2. Online Trade Data – The trade data companies profiled on World Trade Daily are great resources for doing due diligence on overseas partners. They will show companies that are shipping the types of products they deliver. Look at PIERS, Zepol, Panjiva, Datamyne and a few others.
  3. The US Commercial Service can help indentify reliable overseas buyers through its services. Consult a local expert at a US Export Assistance Center.  If you are an exporter outside the US consult your government’s export assistance agency.
  4. Get on an airplane – at the end of the day you have to know your business partners. And the best way to do it is to visit them onsite. Spend time with them, eat dinner together, and see their facilities. That is how long-term business relationships have always been cemented.

World Trade Center Spotlight: Abu Dhabi

I would love to travel to Abu Dhabi, the capital and largest state of the United Arab Emirates. The photographs of this city show it to be absolutely stunning. The UAE is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf.  It is a federation of seven emirates each of which is governed by an emir. H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the national president. The UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai is H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. UAE became independent in 1971 and Islam is the offical religion and Arabic the offical language.  Its oil reserves are ranked as the world’s 6th largest.

Abu Dhabi is a progressive Arabian city of over 1.6 million people and one of the world’s richest cities.  It has one of the largest oil reserves in the world and holds 9% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 5% of the world’s natural gas. There is also substantional investment in tourism, industry, retail and real estate sectors. It is also home to the world’s most expensive hotel, the 7- Star Emirates Palace Hotel, the Guggenheim and Louvre galleries, musuems as well as a performing arts centre. There are more trees in Abu Dhabi (120 million were planted over the last 30 years) than anywhere else in the Gulf. It is a diverse and multi-cultural society.

The WTC Abu Dhabi was designed by Foster & Partners.  It has a dramatic profile and 32,000 sqm of office space, 189 apartments, 270 room hotel, 80 services apartments, a 2,250 sqm convention centre, shops, restaurants and more.

Website:  (By far one of the most beautiful, interesting and musical website I have ever visited.)

Mission: To be the focal point of foreign trade activities in the city of Abu Dhabi by bringing together importers, exporters and service providers; to facilitate international business for companies of all sizes by ensuring stabilty which leads to overall economic growth.

Leadership: Ousama G. Ghannoum, General Manager

Exports:  $198 billion: crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates to Japan 17.1%; India 13.6%, Iran 6.9%, South Lores 6.1%, Thailand 5.1 %.

Imports: $158.7 billion : machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food to India 17.5%, China 14%, US 7.7%, Germany 5.6%, Japan 4.8 %.

Services:  Organizing outbound missions to explore new markets, receiving incoming business groups. Up to date information related to trade activities in the region and around the world including furnishing profiles of business contacts, including manufacturers, agent distributors, service providers and others. Other services include secretarial, translation, and hotel reservations.

Contact Information:

World Trade Center Abu Dhabi
P.O. Box 51133
3rd Floor, Najda Street
Aldar Properties
PJSC, Emirates Post Building
United Arab Emirates

                                   Grand Mosque

                                                                                                                                          Abu Dhabi


Trade News: Economic Vitals; Tax Cuts, U.S. Jobs, Trade Policy & More

From U.S. Census: New Economic Indicator Database Search Available from Census Bureau. Statistics from 12 economic indicators are now easy to access and easier to use with the new economic indicator database search. With the release of the Quarterly Financial Report for retail trade, all 12 of the Census Bureau’s economic indicators are accessible in this user-friendly Internet tool.

Consolidated Federal Funds Report: 2010 and Federal Aid to States for Fiscal Year 2010. Two reports provide an overview of virtually all federal spending at the national, state and county levels. The Consolidated Federal Funds Report shows spending for procurement contracts, salaries and wages, direct payments and loans, grants and insurance.

From DOC: The American Jobs Act: Cutting Payroll Taxes Supports Consumer Spending. President Obama has proposed cutting payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year. As the Economics and Statistics Administration has already shown, job gains combined with lower taxes equals more spending. That’s why these tax cuts make sense. They help create demand to give the economy a little breathing room while it recovers. This provision will provide a tax cut of $1,500 to the typical family earning $50,000 a year.

Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Winners Announced.  The Obama Administration announced the winners of the $37 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, a multi-agency competition launched in May to support the advancement of 20 high-growth, regional industry clusters.

From PIERS Transportation: Obama’s Jobs Plan Means Good News for the Transportation Industry.  The president proposed $50 billion in new spending on transportation systems, including state allocations for road, bridge and airport work plus more funding for intercity passenger rail upgrade.  A recent Bloomberg News Survey of 34 economists concluded that President Obama’s proposed jobs plan would boost the U.S. GDP 0.6 percent in 2012.

From WITA: Is U.S. Trade Policy Helping or Hurting Manufacturing? Webcast: 28-Oct-11 12:00 PM.  Featuring Ambassador Susan C. Schwab Former U.S. Trade Representative and Jared Bernstein Former principal economic adviser to Vice President Joseph Biden. Moderated by Thomas Duesterberg Executive Director, Manufacturing and Society in the 21st Century With Introduction by Elliot Gerson Executive Vice President of Policy and Public Programs and International Partnerships, The Aspen Institute.

From Tradeology (ITA): Strengthening the U.S. Economy by Strengthening Trade Relationships. “Products stamped with the words ‘Made in America’ are still in demand around the globe.  We must seize these opportunities… the important role that exports play in strengthening the economy and supporting jobs for American workers.  In fact, for every billion in goods exported abroad, more than 5500 jobs are supported here at home.”  Complete Miami Herald Article.

From Global Trade Alert: United States of America: Buy-American provisions in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.  The bill included one Buy-American provision. Section 608(b) concerns the acquisition of dogs that are to be used in narcotics-detection teams deployed to the northern border. It provides that, “In acquiring canine assets required under [this subsection], the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall, to the greatest extent possible, acquire canines that are bred in the United States.”  Who says U.S. Politics has gone to the dogs?  I think they’re barking up the wrong tree.  

Trade News: U.S. Trade Agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama

From Tradeology (ITA): Quick Approval of Trade Agreements is Good News for the American Economy.  Congress approved trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.  Opening new doors of opportunity for U.S. firms to sell their products in these three markets will strengthen our economy and sharpen our competitive edge in the global economy.  It will also support jobs.  For every billion in U.S. goods exported overseas, more than 5500 jobs are supported here at home.  In total, the three agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs and add billions to the U.S. GDP — reasons for all Americans to cheer.  To read more about this subject, you may also want to check out:

Opinion From Panjiva: On Trade, Congress Talks Out of Both Sides of Its Mouth. This week, the U.S. Senate advanced three bills promoting free trade and passed another bill that could trigger a trade war.  To be fair, there is a common thread — jobs. The problem is that all of these efforts ignore the big picture on trade with respect to jobs. Trade wars are a well-known way to kill jobs.

Also from Panjiva: September Trade Data: Significant Seasonal Drop. Specifically, the number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 8% month-over-month decrease from August to September.  This is sharper than August-to-September declines of years past (-7% in 2010, -5% in 2009, -5% in 2008, and flat in 2007).

From EuroMonitor: Annual Inflation in 25 Key Emerging Market Economies: 2011.  In April 2011, the IMF raised its 2011 forecast for global inflation to 4.5% (from 3.7% in 2010), mainly due to a surge in global commodity prices. While high unemployment will continue holding back inflationary pressures in most advanced economies, inflation is accelerating in many emerging and developing economies as a result of accommodative macroeconomic policies and increasing capacity constraints. Inflation forecasts for China and India have been raised to 5.0% and 7.5% for 2011.

From Global Edge: Best Countries for Business. Forbes has just released its list of “Best Countries for Business” and this year Canada has reached the top. Canada jumped up from last year’s number 4 spot to claim the top spot on the list. Countries were ranked based on 11 key factors including “property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.”

PIERS Supports the World Trade Center Africa Initiative. The African Network of World Trade Centers forms sophisticated links between businesses across Africa that serve a diverse range of economic sectors. These sectors include: mining, energy, construction, agriculture, tourism, finance, communication, logistics, health, and technology.

Guest Blog: Doing Business in Japan – the Business Card Exchange

Preserving Harmony and Hierarchy:

We have established two major facets of Japanese society: importance of the group over the individual and the philosophy of harmony between all things. In order to preserve this harmony, derived from their Shinto beliefs, the Japanese tend to communicate indirectly in what some may call high-context communication.

High context communication means that the real information is embedded in the context in which the communication occurs, going beyond the words, reading all facial expressions, and body language. The Japanese tend to be very vague, because over explaining implies that the other party knows nothing about the subject of discussion. This ambiguity allows the Japanese to maintain harmony, by not stating the obvious, and encouraging others to be aware of how the other party is feeling. For example, right before saying “no” outright, a look of uneasiness usually passes on our faces. The Japanese, in order to avoid this outright rejection, use euphemisms, such as, “This project sounds very difficult,” which is meant to say “no” in a gentle manner, but also encourages you to figure out why they are not interested. It is meant to save “face” or embarrassment.

One way you can “save [your] face” is to understand the order (hierarchy) of Japanese society. While conducting business in Japan, it is best to know as much as possible about the people with whom you will be meeting. Japan has a strict hierarchy in their business or organization and those titles are meant to be used and recognized. One way to show respect for a person of high rank is when you first meet.

Usually, when you meet a Japanese business professional, you exchange business cards: meishi (meh-she). This is an important ritual in Japanese society – it reflects humility, hierarchy and face. Bring a lot, preferably with a Japanese translation on the back (company, title, name, contact info-in that order), because you will give one to everyone you meet. They should be in pristine condition, for they are seen as an extension of you, and the Japanese consider their meishi as an extension of themselves. When presenting meishi, use two hands and hold your card facing your Japanese colleague, and with a slight bow, eyes looking downwards, exchange cards. The bow indicates humility and respect for someone of high rank, acknowledging hierarchy – as a side note, the depth of the bow is determined on the status of your colleague, the higher in rank, the deeper the bow, and vice versa.

Don’t forget to smile, it will show sincerity. Once cards have been exchanged, read it carefully, attempt to pronounce names, so that they may correct you if necessary, but do not write on it! When storing the received meishi, place them in your left inside jacket pocket (closest to your heart) – it is a place of honor. Conversely, do not place received meishi, whether in a wallet or not,  in your back pants pocket…ever! This is a huge sign of disrespect.

Now to begin the business meeting…

Guest Blog: Updating Your Website So That It Informs and Can Be Found

Many websites in the International Trade industries look like they have been forgotten. The images are dated, the text is stale and the graphic design looks tired. Even the copyright date is a few years old.

People running small businesses believe they are too busy to pay much attention to their website once it has been set up. And in many cases these websites may have been designed by the then-prodigy 12-year-old nerd in the family. Or, as I was recently told by the owner of a very successful export management company, “What do you mean my website needs to be updated? I stayed up all night for many weeks in 1991 designing it myself.”

A website is an organism – a constant work-in-progress that changes as your business, the world and technology changes. Sadly many international trade people are stuck back someplace in the 1990s. It is time to change.

The most important things that a good website offers are, in order of importance:

  1. Informative content
  2. Clear and concise messages about who you are and what you do
  3. Easy usability and navigation
  4. Pleasing graphics

These points seem to be common sense. But it is surprising how many websites, especially in the international trade field, offer very few of any of them.

Why you should develop a website with these principles in mind:

  1. Informative content means that you have text that tells the story of your company and products, using strategic keywords that will enable web users to find your website when using search engines such as Google. In general, search engines will index pages with at least 250 words, where the keywords appear in between 2-3% of the text.
  2. Have a dedicated “About Us” page that clearly explains who you are, where you are and what you do. It is best to be as specific as possible so that a visitor to your website understands that you are a serious and focused business. And, of course, the “About Us” page is also a good opportunity to include your keywords.
  3. A website cannot be used if its “usability” makes it too complicated. For a small site (less than about 15 pages) all that is needed is clear navigation on each page together  with a site map that serves as a table of contents for the site. More complex sites need more awareness of usability. But in essence, the important thing is to make sure that the average user understands what to find and how to find it on your website.
  4. Website graphics styles seem to change every few months. It is important to make sure that the color scheme and font type are pleasing to the eye. There are now many services such as WordPress that offer themes or design templates. Many of them are quite attractive. Best, of course, is to hire a professional graphic designer who understands web design, color combinations and fonts.

World Trade Center Spotlight: Atlanta

I love visiting Atlanta.  It has the largest indoor aquarium in the world and a great art museum, the High Museum of Art.  Along with the great restaurants and hotels, seeing this city at night is awesome.  Only 4 hours from Nashville, I usually drive to the airport in Atlanta for my international trips.

Atlanta is the capital and largest city in the state of Georgia, U.S.  It is often referred to as the Big Peach (New York City is the Big Apple).  The Atlanta metropolitan area population is 5,268,860 (2010 census) which makes it the 9th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Atlanta began as a settlement located at the intersection to two railroad lines and today is the primary transportation hub of the Southeastern United States- highway, railroad and air.  The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport since 1998.  With a gross domestic product of US$270 billion, Atlanta’s economy ranks 15th among world cities and 6th in the U.S. Atlanta has the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in that U.S. such Coca-Cola, Home Depot, AT & T, UPS, and Delta Airlines (the city’s biggest employer).  It is the 7th most visited city with over 35 million domestic and overseas visitors per year. Although in the Deep South, Atlanta is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the U.S. and truly an international city.

World Trade Center Atlanta provides personalized service in a professional, upscale environment. It is one of the leading business clubs in Atlanta and it is the only full service dining facility with an international atmosphere. The conference center includes seven meeting rooms, a round table boardroom and  a multi-purpose room for up to 200 guests.

Website:  (Check out the photo gallery to see the amazing interior.)

Mission: “…the premiere facilitator of international business, trade and culture in the Southeastern United States.  The World Trade Center Atlanta is focused on bringing together businesses and governments from around the world.”

Leadership:  David Ficano: General Manager; Lisa Postolachi: Membership & International Services Director;  Chairman of the Board of Directors: Craig Lesser, Pendleton

Background:  The WTCA was founded in 1982 and located atop the Merchandise Mart in downtown Atlanta.  The founders included: Sam Ayoub, George Bushbee, Bennett Brown and John Portman.  On February 22, 1995 the new location was announced.  Designed by John Portman the new facility occupies 15000 square feet of meeting space and 60000 square feet of function space.  Portman’s goal was, “…to create a spacious, yet intimate-contempory, yet classic decor that would speak to the Center’s dynamic international business leaders, reflecting the prominent role they play in Atlanta’s future.”

Services:  Technical and educational seminars on current international business topics, trade missions, trade shows, sessions with public/governmental and private sectors organizations. Networking events and assistance with business contacts and appointments globally.

The catering service is outstanding and preferred by the luxury goods, fashion, movie and cosmetic industries.


10/24 Medical Tourism Seminar

Trade:  Georgia’s export shipments of merchandise in 2010 totaled $28.9 million.  The largest market is Canada followed by China, Mexico, Japan and Germany.  The largest merchandise export category is transportation equipment.  Other top merchandise exports include chemical manufactures, machinery manufactures, paper products, and computers and electronic products.

Contact Information:

World Trade Center Atlanta
303 Peachtree Street NE
Lower Lobby STE 100
Atlanta, GA 30308
Catering service: 

High Museum of Art


                  Atlanta at Night


Trade News: On Fair Trade, Changing Climate & Flying Pigs

On, by or about Fair Trade:

  • The WFTO Network (World Fair Trade Organization): The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is the global network of over 450 Fair Trade Organizations (FTOs) and individuals. The WFTO network spans 75 countries through a web of five regional networks in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the entire Pacific Rim.
  • WFTO New Members: The WFTO is pleased to announce the inclusion of 18 new organizations into their network: seven organizations from Africa, three from Europe, five from Latin America and three in Asia, as well as three new individuals from the Netherlands, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.
  • The One World Award 2012: For the third time since its creation, the International “One World Award 2012” will honor select people who give positive and innovative examples of globalization. The award recognizes sustainable ideas and projects that integrate ecological, economic and social aspects.

On climate change:

  • NASA Climate Change Blog. Each week for the past couple of years, NASA has published new images of different locations on planet Earth, showing change over time periods ranging from centuries to days. The pictures have been taken from space and from the ground by real-life people. Some of the changes seen are related to, or exacerbated by, climate change and some are not. Some document the effects of urbanization and man’s impact on the land while others the ravage of disasters such as fires and floods.
  • UN Chief Calls for Increased Efforts to Fight Climate Change.  “The facts are clear. Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise,”UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “Millions of people are suffering today from climate impacts. Climate change is very real. The consequences of climate change are significant. The current drought in the Horn of Africa is only one of many examples of the suffering caused by global warming. Timely action is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change and to save millions of lives in the regions threatened most.”

Flying Pigs

On flying pigs:

Trade in Everything. An entire Boeing 747 has been hired at £330,000 per trip to fly pigs on a 5,500-mile journey in more comfort than humans often have in economy class.  By the end of the year, about 4,500 pigs from farms across Britain, from Oxfordshire to Cheshire and Scotland, will be living in China after a new livestock trade agreement.  Thanks to decades of sophisticated breeding programmes, an average British-bred sow gives birth to 22 piglets a year compared with 14 for a Chinese one.

On the flight, each pig, which weighs an average 11 lb., can relax in an area measuring 3.5ft by 3.5ft where it can stretch out, roll, stand or lie during the 11.5 hours in the air. In contrast, an economy-class human traveller is typically confined to a seat 18in wide with no more than 32in legroom. The pigs can help themselves to food and water throughout the trip.

Trade News: On Farm & Food: Subsidized, Grown, Marketed & Eaten or Not

From Euromonitor: Desperate Times?: Forecast Revisit for Packaged Food in 2011. Recent events, man-made and natural, are casting doubt on the still vulnerable global economic recovery. US public spending cuts, rampant inflation in China, continued political instability in the Middle East and North Africa, and Japan’s tragic earthquake and tsunami are not only impacting economic prospects worldwide but also the packaged food market specifically.

Articles from ERS/USDA: Rural Income, Poverty, and Welfare. ERS research in this area focuses on the economic, social, and demographic factors that affect the income and poverty status of rural residents and their participation in Federal assistance programs including food assistance programs.  Changes in welfare programs may disproportionately affect high-poverty rural areas.

How Americans Rate Their Diet Quality: An Increasingly Realistic Perspective. Over the last 20 years, awareness of diet-related health concerns has become widespread in the United States as obesity, along with its associated human and financial costs, has increased. Americans have become much less likely to rate their diets as “Excellent” or “Very Good” in terms of healthfulness, even though the healthfulness of the American diet has undergone little change over this period. Denial can be helpful sometimes. 

Healthy foods for all

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Data System.  This article provides time-series data on state and county-level estimates of SNAP participation and benefit levels, combined with area estimates of total population and the number of persons in poverty. SNAP is the Nation’s largest domestic food and nutrition assistance program for low-income Americans.  Notable links include:

Articles from ITCSD: Food Reserves in Developing Countries. Agricultural prices, along with the prices of primary commodities in general, have been both high and volatile over 2006-11. These developments impact the poor and other vulnerable non-farm households who devote a high proportion of their incomes to the purchase of food.

G-20 Set to Share Farm Data, Ag Research. A Group of 20 financial powers met to establish a new agricultural market information system and improved attention on agricultural research.  Experts have argued the lack of co-ordinated data on food has been a critical issue in the food price increases of recent years along with lack of productivity growth in developing countries. The G-20 represents 60 percent of world agricultural exports and 70 percent of production.

From OECD: Agriculture: Support to Agriculture at Historic Lows. Government support to agriculture in OECD countries fell to 18% of total farm receipts in 2010, a record low linked to high commodity prices. The OECD argues that growing global food demand, higher prices, more volatile markets and increasing resource pressures are arguments for moving beyond “status quo” policies. Countries should focus on improving farm productivity, sustainability and long-term competitiveness, rather than policies that distort markets. Farm policy should also offer greater support to research, innovation and education.

Guest Blog: UN Comtrade: 200 Countries, 48 Years, 6,000 Products – 1 Website

UN Comtrade, the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, is one of the most comprehensive trade databases. It provides detailed import and export statistics with over 1.7 billion records and over 170 reporting countries. These statistics are classified according to the SITC (standard international trade classification), Harmonized System, and Broad Economic Categories, and are used for, among other things, determining the importance of commodities in terms of world trade and trade negotiations.

The database includes the following topics:

  • Food and live animals
  • Beverages and tobacco
  • Crude materials, inedible, except fuels
  • Mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials
  • Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes
  • Chemicals and related products
  • Manufactured goods classified chiefly by material
  • Machinery and transport equipment
  • Miscellaneous manufactured articles
  • Commodities and transactions not classified elsewhere in the SITC

UN Comtrade Database

The values of these goods are converted to U.S. dollars, while their quantities are measured by the metric system. The database takes the current classification/revision and converts it to its earliest classification to enable users to gather long-time series results. It is important to know into which classification the commodity you are looking for will fall. Some will only be available in the newer classifications such as HS2002 and commodities such as PCs and mobile phones. Overwhelming, right? Don’t worry, there are step by step guides listed in the First Time user guide that can help you navigate your way through the database.

The nice thing about the UN Comtrade website is that all users have free access to it and have a download limit of 50,000 pages per data query. There is no limit to how many data queries a user can do. Additionally, all users can use Comtrade Explorer, where you get an instant overview based off of a country name and commodity. You can refine from there. To explain methodology and how these statistics were calculated, the section UN Comtrade Knowledge Base explains the database’s functionalities, concepts behind the data, and why imports and export differ. For questions concerning how-to’s and reviews from other users, you can utilize the UN Comtrade Community Forum. Need answers now? Get instant online support with the live help feature.

A wealth of information at the touch of your fingertips, all for the low price of FREE!

UN Comtrade

If you want to download more data, you can sign up for premium access. (There are special categories that do not have a 50,000 page download limit, including registered institutional users: academic institutions, governmental and non-governmental agencies, NGOs, and some developing countries listed on the IDA list). However premium access members can not only download more data, but they may also save queries on the system, make and save country or commodity groups on the system, customize the download layout or schedule execution of certain queries at regular intervals. You may seek premium access on the UN Publication website or via e-mail:

Guest Blog: Is Your Import-Export Business Ready For The Online World?

Many small businesses involved in international trade are too busy to pay much attention to the latest trends and skills needed to use the internet. After all, many of them think, Letters of Credit have not changed much for at least 400 years! Containers have been used for transporting goods since the 1970s. And, many ask, “Why should my competitors know exactly what kind of business I am doing?”

However, like it or not, the internet has changed the world. The internet is much more than just a medium of communication. It is more and more becoming the main vehicle for marketing and transacting business, both locally and internationally.  And it is opening a new world of opportunity and transparency in international trade.

For example:

  • These days most people looking for business partners, service providers, product sources and resources about  new markets start by searching online.
  • Online marketplaces and trade shows are to some degree replacing live trade shows.
  • International meetings are now regularly held using Skype or similar software, vastly cutting down on travel expenses.
  • Social Media gets the word out immediately about international trade transactions, events, products, and news and career opportunities.
  • Optimization of websites for search engine placement, Pay-Per-Click  advertising campaigns and social media marketing strategies are all now central skills needed to run a business.

Success in High Tech global business still requires trust and a human touch

Sadly many international SMEs are falling behind with these skills. And their more savvy competitors are gaining ground.

And, all this said, human nature and the nature of international commerce still demands live person-to-person contact. The new technologies are creating the need to balance the old and new ways of doing business. Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting details about how to integrate the new into the old and bring your business into the 21st century!

Among topics to be discussed are:

  • Updating your website so that it informs and can be found.
  • Marketing on online marketplaces.
  • Using online communications with your customer and partners.
  • How social media is used in business to business.
  • How to wisely pay for online advertising.
  • When you still have to get on a plane, go to trade shows and visit your customers in spite of the new technologies.

Guest Blog: Doing Business in Japan. First Understand the Japanese Mindset

Hajimemashite (Ha-jee-meh-mosh-teh), nice to meet you.

The Japanese culture can be just as difficult to decipher as the Japanese characters and language. The Japanese are a very proud people who maintain a unique identity rooted in age-old traditions. These cultural norms and practices affect the way that the Japanese conduct business, which affects the way that business persons who wish to do business in Japan need to be aware of. In order to successfully conduct business in Japan, we need to try and understand the Japanese mind.

Basic Manners:

  • When entering a home and some restaurants, you are expected to remove your shoes.
  • Always be on time!
  • Business dinners mean business attire.
  • While you should refrain from talking too much while eating, it is okay to slurp your noodles (it shows appreciation for the cooking).
  • Leave the rice alone! No soy sauce on the white rice! A seaweed and sesame seed topping, called furikake, is used as a garnish.

Sincere Mutual Respect is translatable into every language and culture

Identity and the Individual: In America, the explorer and the pioneer are praised for the guts and gumption to take chances. We praised these pioneers for taking risks and experimenting, while we profit from their successes and forgot their failures, because their failures were exactly that, their failures. In America, we praise the individual and essentially separate them from who they work for or any group affiliation. It is the individual first and the company or other associations second. In Japan, it is the reverse. The group is more important than the individual. The Japanese think and act on behalf of the group, whereas an individual’s failure in America is the individual’s failure, the individual’s failure in Japan is the company’s failure. So remember, you and your team are a representation of your whole company. Your actions and behavior will be interpreted as the company’s attitude and not just your own.

Exchange of Business Cards

Harmony: Their philosophy of groupthink is simply stated with the aphorism: “We all eat from the same pot”. We all contribute to the success of this organization and are all responsible for its failures.  A commonly recognized aphorism in America would be the Three Musketeers’ “One for all, and all for One.” Japan is a small island with limited resources, so before industrialization, during the modern age of Japan, farmers had to cooperate with the villagers, both acting for the good of all, trying to achieve a positive-sum game, one which everyone wins. The idea of harmony is a concept that is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and it carries over to the meeting rooms. For example, Americans tend to debate until a solution is reached. Actual debate with the Japanese, involving conflict, creates discomfort and can cause a loss of face which is seen as an embarrassment. Japanese business persons will try to achieve harmony and avoid conflict at all costs.

Taking the time to understand the Japanese mind, is essential to your business succeeding in Japan.

Guest Blog: U.S. – MENA Trade Treaty: Four Primary Objectives Outlined

Back in 2003, President George W. Bush proposed a new trade treaty between the US and the Arab states of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “The Arab world has a great cultural tradition, but is largely missing out on the economic progress of our time,” he said at the time. He predicted that the pact would be in force by 2013. Unfortunately until now not much has happened on this front.

MENA Economic Growth. Click for larger image

But much indeed has happened in the Arab world over the past year. So, at an event hosted by the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Coalition, the National Foreign Trade Council and Washington International Trade Association Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Miriam Sapiro proposed several initiatives to increase US trade and investment in the area, but was short of proposing an overall Free Trade Agreement. “Ever since the Arab Spring began, the Administration has been working to define how we can best support the aspirations of the citizens of the region for expanded opportunities. We are particularly focused on ways to create broad-based economic growth that can help support democratic reforms by providing a strong foundation for inclusive development and prosperity.”

The Administration has four main objectives for trade development in the MENA region:

  1. Trade facilitation: Lowering tariffs and other non-tariff barriers that currently hinder trade between the US and many of the MENA countries. “We see significant possibilities for early productive collaboration, not only bilaterally with our MENA counterparts, but also with other governments and international institutions. Improvements and cooperation in customs procedures and establishing fair, predictable, and transparent rules are essential.”
  2. Greater SME involvement in trade and investment-related activitiesOPIC (the Overseas Private Investment Corporation) is proposing to provide up to $2 billion in financial support to catalyze small business investment in the MENA region and to “fast track” loans to SMEs in the region.
  3. Expansion of services and investment: “Transition governments that implement policy changes creating a welcoming environment for investment – especially the transparency, predictability and rule of law-  will be the first to see foreign investment flow, spurring welcome innovation along with new jobs.” As a start, the Trade Development agency (TDA) is providing grant funding in the form of pilot projects, feasibility studies and technical assistance in the region. The program in Egypt is featured on a new TDA website, Egypt: Forward – Partnering for Trade and Economic Growth.
  4. Improving access to and utilization of preference programs, such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): The U.S already has FTAs with Bahrain, Jordon and Morocco. The administration wants to expand tariff reductions to other countries in the region as their political situations stabilize.

Ambassador Sapiro concluded her remarks stating, “While we are focusing initially on key trading partners in transition, we are also structuring our cooperation in a way that facilitates greater economic integration within the region and creates opportunities for other regional partners to join us. We envision sitting down with our regional counterparts and starting a dialogue that will enable us, as a group, to identify the most promising avenues for increasing trade and investment with, and within, the region. This dialogue would be an important step towards constructing a broader trade arrangement.”

Let’s hope this time it works!

Steve Jobs: In Memoriam: Cool Video, SJ Quotes & a Few Personal Reflections

Quotes from Steve Jobs, as compiled by various sources:

The famous, inspiring “Think Different” Steve Jobs Video.  A perfect, one minute tribute.

Personal Reflections.  I’m 57.  I’ve been suckling at the breast of technology since I was an infant.  My mother was keypunch operator and self-taught computer programmer (FORTRAN, COBOL) in the 50’s.  My first job at 6 years old was operating a monstrous tabulator standing atop a stack of key punch card boxes.  At 9 years old I was verifying key punched cards for her earning 10 cents an hour.

In the 60’s, she worked midnights at Ford Motors in rooms filled with mammoth computers, data on platters and huge tape drives.  I skipped school a lot to play video games the Ford programmers invented… long before the release of Pong.

Inevitably, I’ve always acquired and attempted to employ new technology before it was ready for prime time.

In the 80’s I purchased what was touted as the FIRST Integrated Multi-Media solution (using my entire inheritance) only to have IBM retract their promotional statement because it completely failed to live up to expectations.

Then in the 90’s after buying the first turnkey digital video editing system, I found out  (after 6 months of frustrating glitches and crashes) it was really still a “beta” release.

I’ve spent long hours in the middle of the night struggling to perform online research and international stock trades in China from Los Angeles, laboring with an incredibly slow 5600, or 14.4 kbit/s modem with the constant background screeching.

From the early 00’s throughout this last decade, I’ve attempted to utilize available technologies to develop innovative applications in the International Trade Information Industry. There is still so far to go.

So, in this last half century, I’ve gone from working with 80 column key punch cards, wherein were stored all the batch instructions for a specific data processing job…enduring several minutes for each image to download… to storing and manipulating terabytes of data at lightning speeds across continents.

Back in frontier days, the trail west was paved with the blood of the largely unrecognized pioneers who created the pathways and laid the foundation upon which modern society is built upon.

Steve Jobs is one such guy.  Certainly there are lots of people whose combined contributions can and should be credited along with his for the development of the elegant, easy to use, life enhancing technologies that we enjoy today.  Notwithstanding, Steve Job’s impact on our world cannot be thus marginalized or minimized.  Our technological world is different and better because of him.

We all love our iPods, iTunes, iPhones, iPads, iMacs, iLife, IWork, Macbooks (one and all) as well as the host of accessories and cool devices that Apple has produced over the last several decades.

As a technologist and pioneer, I deeply appreciate and respect the contribution that Steve Jobs has made to my life, our lives and technology in general.  RIP Stevie.

Trade News: Made in America, American Jobs Act & U.S. Export Promotion

From DOC: The American Jobs Act: Tax Cuts to Help America’s Businesses Hire and Grow. Key elements of his tax cut proposal are:

  • A payroll tax cut to businesses, with a focus on small employers ($65 billion in combination with the payroll tax holiday for new wages).
  • A complete payroll tax holiday for new jobs or wage increases.
  • Extend 100 percent business expensing through 2012 ($5 billion).
  • Help entrepreneurs and small businesses access capital and grow.

Articles from Tradeology (ITA): New Agreement Provides for Improved Coordination of State and Federal Export Promotion Activities.  Efforts to better coordinate the export promotion activities of state agencies and the federal government took a step forward on September 7, 2011, with the signature of a memorandum of intent between the International Trade Administration (ITA) and the State International Development Organizations (SIDO).

Spreading the Word about How to Succeed in Exporting. Thanks to detailed training sessions that featured export specialists from the International Trade Administration (ITA), other federal agencies, and public and private partners in the trade community, more than 1,300 business counselors from Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) recently updated their knowledge and skills in how to best help U.S. companies export.

Making it Easier to Sell Products “Made in America”. President Obama has long said that exports are a key to the nation’s economic recovery.  Nearly two years ago, he launched the National Export Initiative with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.  And, last month, in a speech before Congress where he unveiled the American Jobs Act — a bipartisan proposal to put Americans back to work — he stressed the economic benefits of these free-trade agreements.

From Global Trade Alert: Buy-American Provisions in the Proposed American Jobs Act. The new stimulus package that the Obama administration proposed to Congress in September, 2011, entitled the “American Jobs Act,” includes “Buy-American” provisions for iron, steel, and manufactured goods that are modeled after those of the stimulus package that the administration presented during its first weeks in office in 2009.

From International Trade: U.S. Government Agencies Involved in Export Promotion: Overview and Issues for Congress.  Approximately 20 federal government agencies are involved in supporting U.S. exports directly or indirectly.  Federal government agencies perform a wide variety of functions that contribute to export promotion, including providing information, counseling, and export assistance services; funding feasibility studies; financing and insuring U.S. trade; conducting government-to-government advocacy; and negotiating new trade agreements and enforcing existing ones.

Containerized Exports. Click to Enlarge.

From PIERS Transportation: U.S. Containerized Exports Rebounded in July.  Exports to Northeast Asia led export gains, rising 7% followed by Northern Europe, up 6%. On the downside, exports to the Caribbean saw volume losses again, this time a drop of 12%.  Exports to Southeast Asia declined 4%.  On a country level, China led the gains driven by a strengthening demand for waste paper, logs and lumber and wood pulp. Exports to top market China surged 9% (or 16,896 TEUs) to a total of 208,445 TEUs, followed by Korea and Australia with a 14% and 24% gain, respectively.

Trade News: Trade Relationship with China: It’s Complicated? It’s Crazy Making?

We accuse and scold China of their many unfair dealings, point wagging fingers at them, and yet fall all over ourselves to do business with them and gain access to their markets… sometimes making crazy compromises and going to any lengths to satisfy them.  It’s like trying to have a romantic relationship with someone who has a borderline personality disorder. Love me – I need you, I hate you – leave me, I can’t live without you, go away, no… please come back!

China related articles from ICTSD: Too Many Strings Attached to Chinese Electric Car Subsidy: GM. General Motors last week announced that it would no longer seek to manufacture its newest electric car in China, eschewing a massive subsidy offer that would have forced the automaker to divulge technology secrets. According to the New York Times, China is offering a consumer subsidy of more than US$19,000 per unit for the sale of the next generation of electric cars in China, an amount that is nearly half the value of a new electric car.

US Senate Gears Up for China Currency Vote.  The US Senate is preparing legislation targeting China’s valuation of its currency. The bill would allow the US to impose duties on countries that undervalue their currencies. The move has provoked a stern response from the Chinese government which has cautioned that such legislation could lead to a trade war between the two countries.

Chinese Manufacturers Export Market Share

China Export Growth to Slow in Rest of 2011. China’s export growth is likely to slow down in the remaining months of 2011, but that won’t automatically translate into a weaker currency. Vice Commerce Minister Chen Jian remarked, “The growth margin will diminish. We hope it will turn around as soon as possible.” See article for more details as well as this follow-up article, China to Continue Global Expansion despite Economic Contraction.

China Restrictions on Rare Earths Prompt EU, US, Japan Gathering.  China is the world’s leading producer of rare earth minerals, supplying over 95 percent of the metals to companies around the world. China began stockpiling rare earths in 2010 and reduced global exports by 40 percent by June 2011. The US and Japan are the largest importers of China’s rare earth metals which are critical ingredients for the manufacture of many high-tech, strategic, and green industrial goods.

From WITA (Reuters Article): “U.S. accuses China, India of Hiding Subsidy Programs”. The United States on Thursday accused China of flouting World Trade Organization rules by failing to notify the world trade body of nearly 200 government subsidy programs.

From Census/Global Reach: National Export Initiative Priority Markets: China. 58 percent of U.S. exporters export to only one market, mainly Canada. However, China is the world’s fastest-growing major economy and the fastest-growing U.S. export market. It is now our second-largest trading partner. Check out the latest video on China from the National Export Initiative Priority Markets series.

From Datamyne: Datamyne Top 5: Chinese Solar Module Shippers. Recently there’s been a surge in solar imports from China that has alarmed advocates for the US domestic industry. The Datamyne article reveals top shippers to the US by volume so far this year.

A follow-up DM article, Chinese Solar Imports Draw Fire addresses the question: do surging shipments and dropping prices signal dumping?   The chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Trade has called on President Obama to curb Chinese solar product imports which, he charges, are heavily subsidized by the Chinese government and are priced at levels that do not reflect the reality of the marketplace.

World Trade Center Spotlight: Washington, D.C.

Growing up in Baltimore MD and living in Annapolis MD, I consider Washington DC  a very close neighbor.  It was easy to take my children on day trips (40 min drive depending on traffic) into DC to visit the Smithsonian museums, monuments, art museums, National Zoo, the garden of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (I am a descendant) and more.   As a child myself, I spent a lot of time at my uncle’s house in DC.  He was in the State Department and an Ambassador.  My favorite activities there include seeing the monuments lit up at night and walking among the cherry blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial. I wasn’t the only one visiting DC though as over 15 million visit the city each year.

Washington DC is of course the capital of the U.S. since July 16, 1790. Most of the original city, however, was burned to the ground during the War of 1812. The DC stands for District of Columbia and thus is not one of the 50 states.   It has an elected mayor and city council (as of 1973) but the U.S. Congress has ultimate authority over the city. As of 2010 it has a population of 601,723, however during the workweek commuters raise the population to over 1 million.  Located in Washington DC are the 3 branches of the federal government and 176 foreign embassies.  It is also headquarters for the World Bank.  The district has 68.3 square miles with 19.4% parkland.  President Washington had commissioned a Frenchman, Pierre Charles L’Enfant to create a planned city (although good luck figuring it out when you are driving the streets and many circles). It is also the third highest metropolitan area in the U.S. for cost of living.

In 2008, 27% of jobs in Washington DC were federal government.  The top 4 non-government employees are: Georgetown University, Washington Hospital Center, Children’s National Medical Center and Howard University.  There are many high-tech and biosciences enterprises located in the surrounding suburbs. As to commercial shipping: the bulk of air freight goes through the three airports: Ronald Regan, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington.  DC has its own port at the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, but mainly accesses the larger port facilities of Baltimore and Virginia.

World Trade Center Washington DC

“As a gateway to the world the WTCDC is more than a building or an organization.  It is a convergence of government, business and commerce in the heart of the nations’ capital, providing unparalleled access to trade experts, resources and services. You are invited to come and explore this Washington DC landmark building including its meeting and wedding venues, diverse food court, exquisite art and architecture and dramatic settings for conventions, conferences, weddings, and special events.”  (Website)


Mission: “The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center brings together federal, state and regional trade resources, international trade related businesses and services to convey the United States’ recognition of the importance of trade in linking countries and communities.”

Background:  The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center  serves as the official World Trade Center.  This amazing building (3.1 million square feet) was officially dedicated on May 5, 1998 after 8 years of construction.  It is built upon “the plague spot of Washington”, a location so named in the 1890s because of its saloons and brothels.

Facilities:  The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center “… is the first and only federal building dedicated to both government and private use…”  It holds a premier conference center and event center, executive office space, meeting and event facilities,dining and more.  It is located within walking distance of the White House in the heart of DC.

Services:  The WTCDC earned the Global Best Practices Designation which is the highest award bestowed on World Trade Centers.  Some of the reasons it received the award are:

  • Showcasing the 3.1 million space
  • Creating an accredited national forum for the advancement of trade from the country’s best public and private resources.
  • Serving as a host venue for more than 85 trade-awareness events and symposia each year.
  • Assisting businesses to transition from domestic to worldwide trading partners.
  • Educating the public.

Newsletter:  Tradewinds.  Available on the website, this is a beautifully done and informative magazine. The Autumn 2010 edition features Muhuammad Yunas (Nobel Prize winning economist and banker) and his book, Building Social Business.


10/6: Leadership in a Global Economy with Ed Fuller

10/24: ISOA Annual Summit

10/27-28: 20th annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference

Contact Information

Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC  20004
Contact:  for more information about the International Trade Center.

      DC at night.      

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Cherry Blossums at the Jefferson Memorial

Trade News: Global Opportunities in Emerging Markets for U.S. Exporters

From International Trade: Rising Economic Powers and the Global Economy: Trends and Issues for Congress. A small group of developing countries are transforming the global economic landscape. Led by China, India, and Brazil, these rising economic powers pose varied challenges and opportunities for U.S. economic interests and leadership of the global economy.

From WITA: China-US Investment Forum 2011 — Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese Investment in the US on 5-Oct-11 8:00 AM. Objectives:

  • To introduce the US investment environment to the Chinese business community.
  • To discuss improving the investment environment so that it is mutually beneficial for both countries.
  • To connect business communities and think tanks in the US and China and strengthen economic cooperation between both countries.

From Tradeology (ITA): Just One Place to Go to Learn the Basics of Exporting. With the recent rerelease of A Basic Guide to Exporting, the Department of Commerce’s indispensible how-to book for U.S. exporters has been rebooted. All businesses, but most especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will want to take a look.

New Videos Highlight Priority Markets for U.S. Exporters. Emerging and “next-tier” markets will be crucial to the growth of U.S. exports during the coming years. Six of those markets are the subject of a series of new videos now available online.

Brazil's Imports. Click for enlarged Image.

From Datamyne: What Brazil Is Buying? In the first six months of this year, Brazil’s purchases of US goods totaled $15.7 billion, while its exports to the US totaled $11.7 billion, giving the US a $4 billion surplus. Cotton and ethanol leap into Brazil’s top 5 imports from the US.

From International Trade Law News: Guest Post on Census Blog Serves as Important Reminder on Certificate of Origin Accuracy. Certificates of origin are used to determine where products were made and thus can affect how much duty is levied on imports, whether imports are exceeding quotas or not, and whether the imports comply with local health and product safety regulations.

Russia Encouraged to Develop Transparent Procurement Practices. Michelle O’Neill, deputy under secretary for international trade, encouraged the Russians to adopt government procurement principles that are more in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO). “If done right, procurement can spur efficiency … and provide opportunities for innovative companies to grow. If done badly, it can waste resources and harm the economy.”

From GlobalEdge (MSU): Is the PC Industry Dead?  China recently surpassed the United States as the largest PC market in the world, highlighting the trend of rapid PC growth in emerging markets.  While computers may be viewed as a commodity in the United States, there are still untapped avenues for growth elsewhere around the world.

From PD: Straight from Heart – Warren Buffet. One of the most successful investors in the world, business magnate, third richest person in the world, speaks from real life situations offering insight and practical solutions about financial and personal wisdom.

Trade News: From Euromonitor – European Outlook, Aging Populations & Obesity

Join Euromonitor for a Free Webinar: “Global Challenges into 2012”.  November 17, 2011.  9:00 am CDT, 15:00 GMT.  In 2012, worldwide consumer expenditure will top US$40 trillion for the first time and per capita GDP will surpass US $10,000. The global population will go beyond 7 billion and one third of the planet’s inhabitants will be Internet users. Identifying and overcoming these challenges will help companies to win competitive advantage in 2012 and beyond.

Retailing: Future Scenarios (Part 2). How Might Changing Market Environments Affect Growth In Europe?  International’s retail sales forecasts to 2015 anticipate slow growth for Western Europe and sluggish growth for Eastern Europe.  Euromonitor looks at some specific economic and demographic factors that could change and shape how retailing develops across Europe.

Increased broadband access in Eastern Europe will lead to more online banking and e-commerce.  Increased access to broadband Internet service is expected to become more commonplace across Eastern Europe in the coming years, which will likely lead to significant growth in both online access to bank accounts and increased ecommerce sales. As of 2010 only 40% of households in Eastern Europe possessed an internet-enabled computer but that figure is expected to rise to 53% in 2015.

Regional Focus: Remittance inflows crucial for many Eastern European consumers. International remittance inflows, the money migrants send to relatives and friends in their home country, to Eastern Europe increased again in 2010, reaching US$47.6 billion, and continue to play a key role in supplementing household incomes and boosting consumer spending across the region.

Russia Attempts to Boost Foreign Investors’ Interest.  In June 2011, the Russian government reaffirmed its commitment to attract foreign investors, establishing a US$10.0 billion fund – the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to support international companies investing in the country.

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The Future of Weight Management with Stevia, CLA and Satiety Food and Drinks: Regional Diversity. Figures released by the World Health Organization in 2008 showed that worldwide obesity had more than doubled since 1980, and it had become the fifth leading risk factor for global deaths. Rising obesity has led to rapid expansion in the range of weight management products.

Demographic Transformation Worldwide – A Guide to Harnessing Population Statistics and Analysis.  In 2010, 8% of the world’s population was aged over 65, and between 2010 and 2030 the population of seniors will grow at a pace 4 times that of the total population.

Special Report: The World’s Oldest Populations. The proportion of over-65s in the global population has risen from 5.9% in 1980 to 8.0% in January 2011: 552.4 million people.  Life expectancy at birth reached 69.9 years in 2010.  Japan has the oldest population in the world, with 23.3% aged over 65 and a life expectancy at birth of 83.1 years, the highest in the world.