Archive | November, 2011

On Health at Home and Abroad: Flu, Obesity and Chronic Diseases

From Test Your Flu I.Q. Annual outbreaks of the seasonal flu usually occur during the late fall through early spring. Most people have natural immunity and a seasonal flu vaccine is available. In a typical year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu. Flu-related deaths range from 3,300 to 48,600 (average 23,600).  Flu symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Take CDC’s 10 question flu test and prepare yourself.

From Euromonitor: Health On The Go: A Review of Mobile Applications. Mobile health, also referred to as mHealth, has delivered an important number of platforms and applications (apps) via mobile devices in the past two years. Thousands of health and wellness applications are available for upload in mobile devices. The globalization of digital technology and internet access has opened a wide door to these applications as consumers from all regions in the world can download them. An estimated 80 out of 100 inhabitants hold a mobile cellular telephone subscription as a global average, while 30 out of 100 are users of the internet. Follow above link to read more. 

Also from Euromonitor: Calling in Sick? The 2011-2012 Flu Season in the United States. Flu seasons are notoriously difficult to predict, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 5-20% of Americans get the flu each year.  As of November 2011, however, flu activity in the US has been low, leading public health analysts to be cautiously optimistic that this will be a “typical” flu season. This also means that it is the ideal time to get vaccinated against the flu.  Access to flu shots will be easier than ever this year because the vaccine supply is at record levels. Manufacturers estimate that total production is around 166-173 million doses, the most ever in the US.

From OECD: Health: Medical Care Improving but Better Prevention and Management of Chronic Diseases Needed to Cut Costs. The quality of medical care is improving in OECD countries, with higher survival rates for life-threatening diseases. But there is a need for better prevention and management for chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes, with too many people unnecessarily admitted to hospitals. Obesity is a key risk factor for many chronic conditions, with severely obese people dying up to 10 years earlier than those of normal weight.  Health at a Glance 2011 shows that obesity rates have doubled or even tripled in many countries since 1980.  In more than half of OECD countries, 50% or more of the population is now overweight, if not obese.  The obesity rate in the adult population is highest in the United States, rising from 15% in 1980 to 34% in 2008.

From Euromonitor: Consumer Health Trends in China. Several factors seem poised to spur further development in China’s market for Over-the-Counter (OTC) health products, but legislative and regulatory barriers to growth remain. Unfortunately, this increased prosperity also led to greater urbanization, altered diets, and more sedentary lifestyles, creating greater risk for obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes. In fact, in 2010 China had more diabetics than anywhere else in the world, with an even greater number of adults exhibiting early symptoms of the disease.  n 2009, in the midst of this increase in the at-risk population, the government introduced health reforms aimed at reducing medical costs, making an expansion in self-care a particularly attractive proposition.

From the U.S. Census Bureau- by the Numbers: Interesting Aspects of U.S Population

2008-2010 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates.  The U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the 2008-2010 American Community Survey, the most relied-upon source for up-to-date socioeconomic information every year. The release covers more than 40 topics, such as educational attainment, income, health insurance coverage, occupation, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs. The estimates are available in detailed tables for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 20,000 or more.

American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Wall Map: 2010: This map shows the American Indian and Alaska Native areas reported or delineated for the 2010 Census. The map also contains related graphics that reflect 2010 Census statistics. The printed map is 48-by-36 inches with a map of the U.S. on the front and an enlargement for Alaska on the reverse side. Download the Maps.

Facts for Features: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2011. Population- 5.2 million. As of the 2010 Census, the nation’s population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, made up 1.7 percent of the total population. Of this total, 2.9 million were American Indian and Alaska Native only and 2.3 million were American Indian and Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.

More Young Adults are Living in Their Parents’ Home, Census Bureau Reports. Between 2005 and 2011, the proportion of young adults living in their parents’ home increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of men age 25 to 34 living in the home of their parents rose from 14 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2011 and from 8 percent to 10 percent over the period for women.  “The increase in 25 to 34 year olds living in their parents’ home began before the recent recession, and has continued beyond it,” said the author, Rose Kreider, a family demographer with the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch.  Good grief!!!  Grow up and move out already!

The Foreign-Born with Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010.  Foreign-born residents represented 33 percent of all bachelor’s degree holders in engineering fields, 27 percent in computers, mathematics and statistics; 24 percent in physical sciences; and 17 percent in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences.  Of the 4.2 million foreign-born science and engineering bachelor’s degree holders in the U.S., 57 percent were born in Asia, 18 percent in Europe, 16 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 5 percent in Africa.  The majority (64 percent) of foreign-born residents with degrees in computers, mathematics and statistics were born in Asia, including 24 percent who were born in India and 14 percent who were born in China.

Census Bureau Releases Comprehensive Analysis of Fast-Growing 90-and-Older Population. The nation’s 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades, reaching 1.9 million in 2010, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and supported by the National Institute on Aging. Over the next four decades, this population is projected to more than quadruple. Because of increases in life expectancy at older ages, people 90 and older now comprise 4.7 percent of the older population (age 65 and older), as compared with only 2.8 percent in 1980. By 2050, this share is likely to reach 10 percent.

World Trade Center Spotlight: Warsaw, Poland

Someday I will visit all the major cities of Europe including Warsaw. Warsaw is the capital and the largest city of Poland.  Poland is the only European Union country that maintained positive GDP growth through the 2008-2009 downturn.  It’s GDP is $721.3 billion and by sector: services 63.5%, industry 33%, and agriculture 3.4%.  The industries include machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass , beverages and textiles.

It is an alpha global city and major international tourist stop as well as an important economic hub for Central and Eastern Europe.  It is also known as the “Phoenix ” city because it has to rebuild over and over after many wars. This is a beautiful city with buildings that represent every European style and historical period. It’s business community is growing constantly.  Warsaw was ranked as the 7th greatest emerging market.  Some of the largest international companies there are: Coca-Cola, General Motors, Nestle and Procter & Gamble.  There is a large service sector which employs 70% of the workforce.  Hundreds of Poland’s largest banks and many major foreign banks are present in the city of Warsaw.

WTC Warsaw is a member of the Trade Point Federation.


Mission: ” The WTC Warsaw supports the efforts of the city of Warsaw, to be recognized as one of Europe’s most improtant capitals for business and commerce.  The WTC Warsaw is not competing with other business organizations but it assists, cooperates and compliments them by offering a different set of services and possibilities not available elsewhere.”

Background: A member fs the WTC Association since 1990.

Leadership:  dr. Jolanta Tourel, President. dr. Andrzej Arendarski, Chairman.

Exports (Poland): $162.3 billion (2010 est.)  machinery and transport equipment (37.8%), intermediate manufactured goods (23.7%), miscellaneous manufactured goods (17.1%) and food and live animals (7.6%). Exports go to: Germany (26.9%), France (7.1%), UK (6.4%), Italy (6.3%), Czech Republic (6.2%), Netherlands (4.3%) and Russia (4.1%)

Contact Information:

World Trade Center Warsaw
Polish Chamber of Commerce Building
4 Trebacka St.  Suite 417
00-074 Warsaw, Poland
tel: 48.22.6567711

 Warsaw, Poland



Trade News: Growing Poverty in the U.S.- Over 46 Million People – 15% of Population

From U.S. Census: Special Tabulation Based on Supplemental Poverty Measure. The New York Times commissioned the Census Bureau to create a special tabulation based on the measure, and as a service to other users we are posting this tabulation online. These statistics focus on the characteristics of the population just above the poverty line (100 to 150 percent of the poverty threshold). The supplemental poverty measure does not replace the official poverty measure but is intended to better reflect contemporary social and economic realities and government policy effects and thus provide a further understanding of economic conditions and trends. The official poverty report findings include:

  • The nation’s official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate.
  • There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
  • The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010.
  • Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, real median household income has declined 6.4 percent and is 7.1 percent below the median household income peak that occurred prior to the 2001 recession in 1999.
  • The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest since 1993 but was 7.3 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points.

You can download and review the complete report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010.

Also from Census: Child Poverty by Selected Race Groups and Hispanic Origin: 2009 and 2010.  This brief, based on the 2009 and 2010 American Community Survey, compares national and state level child poverty rates for all children and for children by race group and Hispanic origin for each state and the District of Columbia. Highlights:  More than 15 million U.S. children ages 0 to 17 lived in poverty in 2010.  Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and the District of Columbia had child poverty rates of 25 percent or higher.  White and Asian children had poverty rates below the national average, while black children had the highest poverty rate at 38.2 percent. The poverty rate for Hispanic children was 32.3 percent, and children identified with two or more races had 22.7 percent living in poverty.  Download the entire report. 

Again, from Census: Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households by State: 2009 and 2010.  Highlights: In 2010, 13.6 million households reported receiving food stamp/SNAP benefits during the past 12 months.  The state with the highest food stamp/SNAP participation was Oregon with 17.9 percent. Other states among the highest food stamp/SNAP participation included Tennessee and Michigan.  Download Report. 

Trade News: Recent Blogs by PIERS, Panjiva, Datamyne & Import Genius

From Panjiva: Trendspotting: The Q3 Report is Now Available. The report contains a quantitative analysis of the macro trends shaping global trade during Q3.  Interestingly (and on f0ur very different notes):

  • Toy imports to the U.S. are down.
  • Guided missile exports from the U.S. are down.
  • Trade with NAFTA countries is up.
  • Trade with Libya and Egypt is down.
Kinda random. 

From Import Genius: Financial Analysts Use Shipment Data to Measure the Performance of Public Companies.  Thus reports IG: “Import Genius can help you gain real-time insights into recent activity for any publicly traded company.  Instead of just relying on subjective news opinions or quarterly reports, hedge funds and investment banks can quickly assess the operating health of a company by determining the success or failure of new product launches with our data.  Research analysts can complete their reports on target companies by prying into their shipping volumes, trading relationships, and broader industry trends.  More recently, economists and forecasters have started to use the Import Genius database to quantify their macroeconomic models and long-term growth projections.  Great claim if it can be backed up by case examples.  If any are forthcoming, I’ll gladly tout them here.  

From PIERS: Can Black Friday Help Toy Retailers Live Happily Ever After?  Despite an upbeat outlook for the rest of the year from the Toy Industry Association and retailers like Mattel, PIERS indicates 2011 numbers are no fairy tale. A recent report on toy imports showed September was the eighth straight month of year-over-year decline and the toy trade was unlikely to match 2010 levels.  Toy imports are being hurt by “subdued growth in national disposable income, resulting from stubbornly high unemployment and constrained wages, which are causing retailers to be extra careful with their inventory positions,” said PIERS analyst Mario Moreno. Bottom line—toys aren’t necessities and Americans are still struggling to cover the basics.  Interesting.

From Datamyne: LATAM at a Glance.  Miami Herald scores Latin American economies on key indicators.  Here’s a handy reference: the figures on population, GDP, unemployment, trade, remittances, inflation, foreign direct investment, and foreign debt for each of Latin America’s national economies, courtesy of the Miami Herald.

Sourced from Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, CIA World Factbook, and InterAmerican Development Bank, all numbers are for calendar year 2010 and are provided for the 17 Latin American markets in North, Central and South America covered by Datamyne (where you’ll find the latest available data on LATAM import-export trade in 2011).  Link to Complete Miami Herald Article.  Handy information.

International Trade Administration; Part 3: Sponsored Programs & Activities

In addition to providing information about trade, data and analysis, ITA also supports a variety of programs, summarized here.

Advisory Committees: A public-private partnership managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), where business professionals can partake in formulating U.S. trade policy. The Industry Trade Advisory Committees are the primary link between industry and the U.S. government. The government relies on trade advisors to identify barriers, provide advice on key objectives and bargaining positions on trade negotiations and other trade related policy matters.

Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force (AIRTF): AIRTF was established by the Department of Commerce to provide information and counseling to companies interested in doing business in Afghanistan. AIRTF works closely with other commerce office, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, other U.S. government agencies, Afghan government agencies, and international organizations to coordinate activities in support of Afghan economic development. The focus is to development the private sector through the improvement of a market conducive to trade, investment and private sector growth. AIRTF offers information on business opportunities, market information, tenders, and trade missions (the next one is in February, register by January 3, 2012).

America’s Competitiveness Forum: provides an opportunity for business to business and business to government discussions yielding practical actions that can improve competitiveness and economic prosperity in the Americas.

Good Governance: a program promoting rule of law for business. Good Governance uses country-tailored approaches to support local efforts by private sector organizations working to combat corruption. Good Governance works to ensure that U.S. firms have equal opportunity to complete in a transparent business environment.

InvestAmerica (SelectUSA): U.S. government wide effort to encourage, facilitate, and accelerate business investment in the U.S. by domestic and foreign firms.

Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force: established by the Department of Commerce, this program also has the same intentions and process as the AIRTF (see above). Iraqi Trade Delegations will be present for various conferences and shows in early 2012 in Las Vegas (Nevada), Istanbul (Turkey), Chicago (Illinois), and Houston (Texas).

Market Development Cooperator Program: awards include financial and technical assistance from the ITA to support projects that enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. industries. These awards establish partnerships between ITA and non-profit industry groups.

SABIT (Special American Business Internship Training Program): creates a forum for business development and technical assistance. It helps American organizations create new relationships and strengthen existing ties with Eurasian partners and customers from each of the former Soviet republics.

Safe Harbor: intended for organizations (within the EU or U.S.) that store customer data; it was designed to prevent accidental information disclosure or loss.

Stopfakes: resource about protecting intellectual property rights.

Strategic Partnership Program: enables increased export opportunities through joint outreach and education to small and medium sized U.S. businesses. Its mission is to expand the U.S. export base through innovative public-private sector partnerships.

Sustainable Business (Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative): launched by Commerce’s Manufacturing and Services. Goals include identifying U.S. industry’s most pressing sustainable manufacturing challenges, and coordinating public and private sector efforts to address these challenges.

International Trade Administration, Part 2: Competition, Numbers, and Analysis

Competitiveness: ITA advances policies and strategies that stimulate innovation and advancement, enhance economic growth, and support the U.S. manufacturing and services industry. They represent U.S. industry’s commercial interests in trade negotiations, bilateral and multilateral discussions, and in policymaking.

Competitiveness Resources from ITA

Industry Analysis is provided by the office of Manufacturing and Services. Industry analysis provides information and analysis regarding issues that affect U.S. industry competitiveness. Their services range from evaluating the possible effects of U.S. government regulations and domestic policies on industries to providing trade and industry data supporting the development of national economic policies.


In terms of Statistics, there are a few options. Users have the ability to select from State Imports, which is also broken into three categories (1) Global Patterns of State’s Imports (e.g. imports to California from each country) (2) State by State Imports from a Selected Market (e.g. imports to France to each state) (3) Import Product Profile from a Selected Market (e.g. products to Minnesota from Iceland).

The Statistics section of ITA also has links to Trade Policy Information System, but it is only available within the Federal government, or through a Federal agency account or grant or contract from a Federal agency. Trade Policy Information System data has been used to develop trade policy, trade implementation, and trade district analysis, the publication reports, and export promotion planning. Under the Statistics section, there are several PDFs available concerning Top Trade Partners, U.S. Trade Overview Presentation, Services Trade 2010, and Free trade Agreement Trade Tables.

Under the Trade Stats Express function, there are two broad categories that are additionally broken down. The first option is National Trade Data (U.S. merchandise exports and imports, trade balances) which is further categorized into (1) Global Patterns of U.S. Merchandise Trade (e.g. U.S. steel imports and exports for all countries) and (2) Product Profiles of U.S. Merchandise Trade with a Selected Market (e.g. all products traded between the U.S. and Mexico), where trade partners can be refined to reflect individual countries, geographic regions, or trading and economic regions. The second is State Exports which is broken into similar categories as State Imports mentioned above.

All data searches and queries have the date range of 1989 to 2010 and a quarterly data of up to five years. Additional data options are dollar or percentage changes. Map displays 2005 to 2010, and the NAICS, HS, or SITC classifications can be used, but users may also search by product list, code, or search, giving every user plenty of options.

INDUSTRY SPECIFICS: can be gathered through the provided links:

Promoting Prosperity for a Better World: International Trade Administration

“The defining purpose of the [International Trade Administration] is helping to create economic opportunities for American workers and businesses. By promoting trade and investment we are promoting prosperity for a better world.”

The International Trade Administration (ITA) works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. organizations compete at home and abroad. The site itself is really a mass of information, providing information for importers and exporters alike and thus the ultimate resource for international trade.


  • Promote U.S. trade and investment: the ITA helps U.S. companies navigate foreign markets, by educating companies about how to tailor their activities to the specific market (financing, marketing, assembly, logistics, etc.)
  • Strengthen U.S. industry competitiveness: ITA advances policies and strategies that stimulate innovation and advancement, enhance economic growth, and support the U.S. manufacturing and services industry. They represent U.S. industry’s commercial interests in trade negotiations, bilateral and multilateral discussions, and in policymaking.
  • Ensure fair trade: ITA ensures fair trade by working to remove costly barriers to product and service exports through:
    • Market Access and Compliance (MAC): works to liberalize trade (see below).
    • Trade Compliance Center: tracks specific cases whether U.S. firms are experiencing barriers to entry or not receiving the full potential of negotiated agreements.
    • Import Administration: lead unit on enforcing trade laws and agreements (see below).

The ITA website itself is composed of a number of other ITA managed websites, creating a directory according to topic. For example, under the “Services” tab there are a number of topics, Market Research falls under, whereas “AD (Antidumping)/CVD (Countervailing Duty) Counseling” is categorized under “Import Administration.”


  • U.S. Commercial Service: promote U.S. exports (especially small and medium sized companies), provides commercial diplomacy support for U.S. business interests around the world.
  • Manufacturing and Services: helps shape industry specific trade policy.
  • Market Access and Compliance: helps create trade opportunities through the removal of market access barriers and works to achieve full compliance by foreign nations with U.S. trade agreements.
  • Import Administration: enforces U.S. trade laws and agreements by preventing unfairly traded imports and safeguarding the competitive strength of U.S. businesses.


  • About Trade (including: foreign trade zones, sustainability, market access, standards, etc.)
  • Exporting (including: national export initiative, trade agreements, general export assistance, etc.)
  • Compliance (including: import monitoring program, trade compliance center, etc.)
  • Enforcement (including: laws and regulations, trade compliance filing, trade remedies, etc.)
  • Events (including: conferences, trade events, webinars, domestic trade shows, etc.)




Guest Blog: Online Advertising and How to Use it Wisely

Advertising online takes a few forms. The most common are:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Banner ads
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Advertising

Pay Per Click (PPC) is the most popular form of online advertising. Using a complex algorithm called “contextual advertising,” whereby ads are selected and served by ad servers based on the search results displayed to the user. The largest PPC service is Google AdWords. Yahoo! and Bing (Microsoft) offer similar services.

Simply put, when you set up a PPC campaign you decide on the keywords you want to sponsor and you tell Google (or Yahoo! or Bing) how much you are willing to pay every time somebody clicks to your website. And you can also set a daily budget that restricts the number of clicks you get every day to your maximum budget. The problem is that this can get quite expensive and yield little in return. A strategy has to be developed that targets your audience while being as economical as possible. That means understanding in depth how the system works and how to control your exposure for maximum ROI.

In the case of Google AdWords Google’s philosophy is to provide web users with the best search results. This means that they want to display the most appropriate ads corresponding to each search, even if the best results do not pay them the highest pay-per-click fee. AdWords must therefore be written with keywords that correspond to the keywords on the page they point to. To best accomplish this it is best to create a “landing page” rich with the targeted keyword for each AdWord. But beware that Google hates spam. The landing page keywords must be relevant to the rest of your website!

Google recently released a version of AdWords specifically for SMEs looking for overseas clients. Called Google AdWords for Global Advertisers, the service allows you to find out what your AdWords cost in any country in the world and how much click traffic those keywords get. And, in addition, Google translates your AdWords with a human translator so that you reach the best possible targets! Look at this video that explains it all.

Banner ads, those small, sometimes annoying, graphics you see on websites and sometimes even opening up as a short Flash movie, are the oldest advertising format on the web. Similar to buying an ad in a print publication, buying a banner ad on a Website means paying a set fee for having your ad appear for a set period of time. The trick to effective banner advertising is to identify websites and blogs that are specific to your product or service. Often these ads are quite inexpensive and can be quite effective.

World Trade Center Spotlight: Chicago-Illinois

I hate to admit that I have yet to go to Chicago.  I have no excuse.  Since I moved to Tennessee 20 years ago, I have been close enough to visit for a weekend.  I want to go and experience this fabulous city….maybe in 2012.

Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S. and a major hub for industry, telecommunications and infrastructure. It has the 4th largest Gross Domestic Product among world metropolitan areas.  It is also listed as one of the world’s top ten Global Financial Centers with the second largest central business district in the US.  In a  ranking that includes: value of capital markets, diversity of human capital, international information resources, international cultural resources, and political influence, Chicago ranks as 6th in the world.  It is a major world convention destination with the largest convention center in the U.S. and the third largest in the world.

The 2010 total gross state product for Illinois was $630 billion which is fifth in the nation.  The 2010 per capita income was $41,411.  The state of Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 1000 companies such as Boeing, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Sears, and United.

World Trade Center Chicago-Illinois secured the Chicago Option from the  WTCA on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10).  It is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois with 10 satellite offices located around the state.


Mission/Statement of Purpose:  “Your Trusted partner in World Trade”  A not for profit organization providing vital international trade services to WTCIL members. “…a global trade center committed to expanding international trade between Illinois business and work markets.  Tailored for manufacturers, exporters, suppliers, and import export business opportunity seekers, World Trade Center Chicago-Illinois serves as the lead facilitator and strategic catalyse of international activity within the state.”

Services: International Networking events, Educational and Training programs, Business Services, Virtual Trade Advisor database, and Virtual Trade Office.

Exports:  Illinois’s export shipments of merchandise totaled $50.1 billion in 2010. Exports include machinery (the largest export category at $12.5 billion), computers and electronic products ($5.5 billion), processed foods ($2.6 billion), electrical equipment, chemical products ($6.5 billion), publishing, fabricated metal products, transportation equipment ($5.3 billion), petroleum and coal.

Illinois’s largest market is Canada ($15 billion) and they have a mutually beneficial trade relationship.  There is almost $100 million dollars worth of merchandise exchanged daily. Illinois imports crude petroleum and natural gas from Canada. Next largest markets for Illinois are Mexico ($4.3 billion), China ($3.2 billion), Australia ($2.4 billion) and Germany ($2.2 billion


12/9-11/11: International investors Conference

5/14-15/12: Silk Road Conference

Contact Information:

World Trade Center Chicago-Illinois
1700 E. Golf Rd, 7th Floor
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Chicago and Its Financial District


Trade News: China: Sino-Africa Deals, Credit Card Growth & Exporting

From WITA: Official Launch of Export Now on 14-Nov-11 12:00 PM.  Now is the simplest, least expensive channel for U.S. companies expanding in the booming Chinese market.  Export Now’s innovative technology and logistics platform offers a turnkey solution for selling in China.  Visit the NEW Export Now Website.

Also from WITA(AP feed): “Missouri reaches $4.4B trade agreement with China”.  Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday the state has reached an agreement to sell $4.4 billion worth of products to China for the next three years starting in 2012.  Nixon said the deal between the state Department of Economic Development and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade emphasizes agricultural products and would boost Missouri exports to China by more than $1 billion over three years. The Democratic governor said international trade is important for improving Missouri’s economy.

From ICTSD: China-Africa economic cooperation zones: Political and economic implications. Over the last decade, China’s economic engagement with Africa has grown exponentially. Trade between China and Africa reached $129 billion in 2010. New models of bilateral cooperation have emerged. Among others, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) is supporting the development of six official economic and trade cooperation zones in five African countries. While all of these zones are still at an early stage of development, we provide here an initial analysis of their political and economic implications. Read more.

From EuroMonitor: The Chinese Card Payment Footprint. China is expected to account for over 1/4 of the entire global credit card payment growth!  This accompanying video explains further.  Three Trends Driving Card Payment Growth in China. Urbanization is one of the major themes underlying card payment growth in the world, states Jonathan Fisher, Head of Consumer Finance Research at Euromonitor. China presents itself differently than other emerging markets, notably that its major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are actually decreasing in population. China’s consumers also tend to save more than consumers in other emerging markets, converting roughly 57-60% of all income into expenditure and saving the rest.

From Silk Road Intl.  Show follow up, next steps in China.  People often ask me about service providers in China that they could use once they were back home.  The reality is that even if you’re multi-talented (quite possible), flush with cash (doubtful in today’s economy) and have tons of extra time on your hands (not likely) you’re going to need some help from people that have both experience and are on the ground in China.

Also from the Silk Road: Location, location, location and other suggestions for selecting the best supplier.  Location counts—Sure the price may be better, but you need to factor in how long people have been doing business both in that factory and in that area (sub suppliers).  The rule of thumb is this: the most advanced suppliers are found in HK/Taiwan, then Guandong, then other East Coast cities, then the rest of China.

Trade News: China: Top Industrial Clusters, Rare Earths & More

From China Sourcing Blog: Map: China’s Top 100 Industrial Clusters. The map below illustrates the concentration of industry in China, using cities to identify locations where resources and competencies have been concentrated to produce a competitive advantage in a specific industry.  This map provides an interesting perspective on what is made where in China. Some of the cities listed on this map have become famous for their particular industrial cluster.  Just a few examples of which are:  bra’s and ladies underwear in Shantou (Guangdong); electronic products in Dongguan (Guangdong); transport equipment in Shandong; and lighters in Wenzhou (Zhejiang). The clusters are predominantly still located in the eastern part of the country, but as the distribution of the dots on the map illustrates, there is a lot going on in many provinces not only in the coastal areas.

From ICTSD: Rare Earths: Largest Chinese Producer Shuts Off Production for a Month. While the WTO has been quiet as of late on the contentious rare earths front, trade in the precious materials has been shaken quite a bit over the past months. The global rare earths market has recently experienced massive upheaval with prices falling sharply in June 2011. In response, China’s largest rare-earth producer, Inner Mongolia Batou, announced last week that it would be halting production for four weeks’ time.  Rare earths are needed in essentially every area of high-tech production, be it for pharmaceuticals, military equipment, green energy technology, or information technologies.  The 25 percent price drop since June is the result of a series of factors.

Since 2008, rare earth prices rose from US$ 10 per kilogramme (for a basket of rare earths) to over US$ 200 in early 2011. Prices increased only after China started imposing export quotas for the precious materials.

From Trade Alert: China: Evidence for the manipulation of rare earth prices. In October 2011, numerous and consistent press articles reported on two incidences of potential price manipulation in Chinese rare earths exports.  On 18 October 2011, the largest Chinese rare earth mining company Baotou announced a halt to its production. The company said it would pause production for a month “balancing supply and demand.” Baotou’s share in Chinese rare earth extraction is estimated to lie around 40 percent. A collection of related news articles are also listed.

From Global Sources: In China, make no assumptions. So, what are these assumptions that Westerners tend to make and that can hurt them badly when they purchase from China? The short answer is: they are used to purchasing products on a catalogue, agreeing on a price, deciding on a quantity, and arranging payment.  Do that in China and you’ll run a 30% chance of losing the entire order!

EFACW Announces Push to Increase Bank Lending to Washington Businesses

Guest WTD article submitted by Linked-in Business Associate, John Brislin:

State Trade and Export Promotion Grant funds joint initiative aimed at opening access to capital for small businesses trying to increase export sales.

SEATTLE, WA – The Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington (EFACW) and Washington State Department of Commerce today unveiled a new initiative aimed at increasing bank lending to the state’s small export businesses. The announcement came at a CFO conference hosted by the Washington and Oregon Banker’s Associations at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle.

“With one in three jobs in our state tied to trade, increasing the number of companies exporting and helping those who are already successful to grow and expand into new markets, is a golden opportunity to drive economic recovery and growth all across Washington,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The Washington Export Finance Initiative is the latest in series of new and expanded state programs and services designed to promote Washington’s culture of exporting and increase international sales. The Departments of Commerce and Agriculture recently reported record sales generated by small and medium-sized businesses making use of state assistance to engage in international trade.

A $1.6 million federal grant is helping to fund this new program which hopes to increase participation of banks in export finance programs sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other government financing programs.

John Brislin

“Forging strong partnerships is key, and we are delighted to work with Commerce, SBA, the Washington Banker’s Association, Department of Financial Institutions and others to help Washington businesses realize growth opportunities in international trade,” said John Brislin, President and CEO of EFACW.  Brislin said EFACW intends to have 10 more banks making export loans in the next three years, with a target of supporting at least $20 million in export sales.

“Hundreds of smaller firms have developed innovative products and services; that’s where our state’s entrepreneurs really shine,” said Commerce Director Rogers Weed. “But they often lack the resources to pursue international opportunities. Getting banks to look harder at loans for these promising businesses helps tackle a key obstacle to their success.”

Weed notes that 95 percent of all consumers and 75 percent of all economic activity lie outside the U.S., yet just one percent of U.S. companies export – 4 percent for Washington state.

About EFACW: The Export Finance Assistance Center of Washington provides no-cost export finance counseling assistance to small- and medium-sized Washington exporters and banks who serve Washington companies. For more information visit .

About Commerce: Commerce is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, . For information on locating or expanding a business in Washington, visit

Using Online Communications with Your Customers and Partners

Not so long ago (speaking as an older person), making overseas phone calls and even sending faxes overseas was an expensive and time-consuming proposition. In the early 1990s, the average international trade company spent a large amount of money paying for phone calls and faxes (at the time the cheapest way of communicating overseas). Some offices even still had telex machines (remember them?). At the time, trying to send a fax or make a phone call to some countries in Eastern Europe or Asia would often require hours! Then the internet arrived on our desktop computers. All of a sudden email was the nearly-free communications mode of choice. The world opened up. Smaller companies could do business internationally. The world had changed!

These days everybody is wired 24/7. Even your cell phone can be your communications hub. So how should international trade companies use these tools?

  1. Next to visiting your overseas partners in person, speaking on the phone and seeing the person on the other end at the same time is the next best thing. Services such as Skype are free for calls to other members of the same network. You can spend one minute or several hours talking to your partners anywhere in the world. And you can conference in other people to the conversation.
  2. Let’s say you need to have a meeting, but your meeting partners are in Shanghai and London. You can use Skype. But more sophisticated systems are services like Webex or GoToMeeting. With these services you can share documents, PowerPoint presentations and other media, as well as share your computer screen with the others in the group. A more limited, but similar service is available for free from FreeSecreenSharing, where other meeting attendees can share your desktop while you hold your meeting.
  3. If you just have to say a few words to a colleague in Singapore there are several free instant messaging services you can use. One is built into Skype, but you can also look at Windows Live  (formerly MSM), Google Talk and many more. And, unlike sending text messages from your mobile phone, messages using their services are free.
  4. Suppose you have to share technical specifications, spreadsheets, Bills of Lading, etc  with your partners. Google Docs allows you to upload almost any kind of document and share them with whomever you wish!
  5. You are not always sitting in your office when you want your email. The solution is converting your email accounts to the “cloud.” Google Apps allows you to set up Google’s Gmail service as your company’s email system. That way, no matter where you are or what kind of communications device you have, you can access your business email as well as associated, accounts and other services.

Holds, Penalties, and Communication: ISF with Noah Munoz Part III

“You need to know who your cargo is being shipped with, an exceptional freight forwarder, for they are responsible for communicating with Customs.” –Noah Munoz

While the FDA monitors the quality of food and drug products entering the U.S., Customs sees imports first from a security standpoint, then as commerce. In order to monitor what comes into the U.S., Customs has implemented ISF, known as 10+2. ISF is an electronic notification sent to Customs, before ships leave foreign ports, notifying them of a shipment destined for U.S. ports. Published late in 2008, the law began implementation at the beginning of 2009, allowing importers time to get used to paperwork involved before the law came into full effect in 2010. There are pretty steep fines ($5,000/penalty), for not dotting your “i’s” and crossing your “t’s.” Noah Munoz, of Platinum Cargo Logistics, has presented on the new regulation and comments on where we are today.

Munoz noted that while the $5,000 per violation scare tactic worked to get importers and companies to start filing paperwork, there are still mistakes being made. So in 2009 you filed your ISFs and you got an e-mail or a notification with a subject line saying that “Your ISF was accepted.” Ok, great, done deal, right? So why are you still running into problems now? Well, see past the subject line or the first paragraph of your “acceptance letter” (during the phase in period of 2009) and  there were a few details you may have missed as in corrections. While in 2009 Customs acknowledged your attempt at implementing the regulation…well now it’s crunch time and the consequences are real, not just mere e-mails or notifications, but $5,000 per penalty real.

While Customs has yet to collect penalties, according to Munoz, they seem to be taking a leaf out of FDA’s book, and have started conducting exams. These non-intrusive exams, use a gamma ray imaging system, VACIS, to examine cargo through radiographic images. Munoz noted that “exams have increased on a whole by 4% in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles”. It appears that a lot of these exams occur with smaller shipments in consolidated containers where “it only takes one” non properly filed ISF for the whole container to be detained and incur the fee shared by all. Platinum clients need not worry, Munoz affirms: “We [at Platinum Cargo Logistics]  have taken the initiative to ensure that our clients have been in full compliance.” Unlike the FDA, Customs actually looks at an importer’s history and is now examining those who do not correctly file ISFs. Customs, more transparent than the FDA, is pretty clear about their intentions and corrections concerning ISFs. Munoz summarizes it like this: “If it’s not perfect, there’s no ISF on file, if it’s not on file, expect a hold.”

At the end of the day, we, the consumers, pay the fees not the importers or the companies. Prices are on the rise, so why are we taxing ourselves?

The FDA- A Game With No Clear Rules: Interview with Noah Munoz Part II

Let’s play a game. Ok, so you are a company making your way in the game of globalization, where you navigate through rising fuel costs, demands for sustainability, government bureaucracy, etc. Your freight is moving in the water, heading towards its destination, you’re doing alright. But, wait! Your last roll dictates that you have an increase in demand for the same product due at the same time as your ocean freight. You have two options, pay the cost of air transport or lose the client to whom you are selling. You decide to pay for the air transport. So things are running smoothly, and as you progress along the board, you land on a space that requires you pull a card from the dubious “Government Bureaucracy” deck of cards…yay! You pulled your card to find out that all your imports are put on hold by the FDA! You are asked to roll one more time to determine how long your products will be placed on hold…oh, awesome, a full twelve days. Twelve days on hold, for what reasons, you have yet to find out.

You don’t have to buy this game to find out what happens next. It’s probably already in play except the FDA actually charges a $224/hour re-inspection of your imported cargo without really providing clear reasons. The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed by President Obama in January 2011 began imposing re-inspection fees October 1st of this year. “It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it.” Since it is an obvious goal of the FDA, why are they assessing these fees? When I asked Noah Munoz to comment on this, he was just as lost as I was, but did say that, “The FDA is a type of agency that does not have the manpower that Customs Border Patrol has, but the way they have been conducting their line of business has been kind of backwards.” When asked to give an example, Munoz explained that FDA inspections officers are specifically for ocean or air, two separate divisions examining the same type of cargo. Munoz shared an experience where two imports of the same product were on hold—one ocean and another air—and samples from the ocean were taken first, though the air cargo arrived first. They ended up taking two samples of the same product from the same company and importer at different times, without the officers comparing notes.

Room for improvement? Well, according to Noah, “Don’t take it on a case by case basis” referring to the FDA ‘s practice of not looking at the importer’s record or history, which would indicate if there were any compliance issues or problems with said importer in the past. Since they currently do not provide reasons or feedback why cargo is on hold, nor does there seem to be clear levels of priority between hot cargo and other cargo, some transparency would also be appreciated.

From Here to There: Logistics Series Interview with Noah Munoz Part I

“Down to the pen you write with, the mug you drink out of, the shoes you wear, you tend to forget where it originates from or where it was shipped off to, just to get into your hands…that’s logistics.” –Noah M. Munoz

How many things that we buy are actually produced locally? Most likely not much, but that’s the beautiful thing about trade, we can specialize in industries, and essentially share our talent and products with the world, and vice versa. Take your morning cup of coffee, the mug is probably from China, the coffee from South America, sugar from Thailand, creamer, if you take it, hopefully from the continental U.S.  Your morning cup of coffee was probably made with 75% of the world’s products…the only way it gets from where it was actually produced into your hands is through logistics.

With increasing globalization, we get products from far off places, brought to us magically by transport logistics companies and their semi trucks that we rush to get past while a freight train passes below. Utilizing all modes of transport from air, to railroads, to trucks, and ocean freights, goods are literally moving in all directions, all around us everyday. Transportation logistics companies handle the nitty gritty of  product transport. You may have started a small business, and larger commercialized carriers like FedEx and UPS took care of you…ah the good old days. But now you’re growing, and that’s great, right? But now you have “outgrown” these companies and have to deal with government regulations and agencies, bureaucracies, and the loveable red tape. These newly emerging companies are the first to get fined because they have been spoiled with FedEx’s simplified practices.

Noah Munoz, West Coast International Operations Manager, of Platinum Cargo Logistics was gracious enough to speak with me about some recent developments of the transportation logistics industry, including the FDA’s Food and Safety Modernization Act and Customs Border Protections ISF, or 10+2. Noah hails from the Empire State (of Mind), New York, graduating from NYU with a degree in international business. He began his career in the automotive sector at Ford Motors Company, working closely with the design center contracting suppliers of car parts to create prototypes shown in car shows. While working for Ford Motors, he became International Imports and Export Compliance Manager in 2007. When he moved to California, he became more involved in logistics, overseeing ocean and air divisions and managing industry compliance, as an International Operations Manager, before obtaining his current position at Platinum Cargo Logistics.

Platinum Cargo Logistics, was founded out of the desire to do thing differently and better with customized service solutions: “Intelligent Solutions, Powerful Results.”  Dedicated to “Efficiency, Knowledge, and Solutions [… ] with Every Shipment,” Munoz joined Platinum as the West Coast International Operations Manager.  In this position, Munoz supports Platinum’s West Coast offices dispersed along the coast  (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle) and the office in Denver.

Trade News: The United States and Mexico’s $1 Billion per Day Relationship

Trading Across the Border – The United States and Mexico’s $1 Billion per Day Relationship. Last year, trade between the United States and Mexico amounted to nearly $400 billion. With 85% of that trade crossing the border each day by truck, the U.S.-Mexico border region plays a vital role in the U.S. economy. Two-way trade between the United States and Mexico amounts to more than $1 billion a day. To put the scope and depth of our relationship in perspective, consider that last year U.S. exports to Mexico exceeded our exports to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. Remarkably, even our imports from Mexico support U.S. jobs—64% of the content of the Mexican goods we import include U.S. inputs. The continued growth of this relationship is vital to the America’s economic recovery.

John Bryson is the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Before assuming his position as commerce secretary, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group.  He was a director of The Boeing Company, The Walt Disney Company and Coda Automotive, Inc. and was a senior advisor to KKR.  He was also chairman of the board of BrightSource Energy, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) Board of Overseers.  He also served as co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy (PCIP). Mr. Bryson was a trustee of the California Institute of Technology and a director of The California Endowment and the W. M. Keck Foundation.  He served on the Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank Americas.  He also previously served on a number of educational and environmental boards.

The American Jobs Act: New Project Rebuild and Durable Goods. This new Project Rebuild will put people back to work rehabilitating homes, business, and communities. The President is willing to invest $15 billion into this national effort to spur economic growth. Countless buildings across the United States have been empty and rundown for too long. Project Rebuild will allow for them to be reconstructed from scratch.

From International Trade: Trade Deficit and the Dollar. Congress, as part of its oversight of economic policy, has a continuing interest in the trade deficit and its potential consequences for the national economy. A persistently large U.S. trade deficit raises concerns among the public and in Congress about the trade deficit’s effect on economic growth, as well as the associated capital inflow on domestic credit conditions. There are also concerns about the burden of repaying the foreign debt that finances the trade deficit.

Census Bureau Reports State and Local Governments Revenue Declines 22 Percent in 2009. In 2009, state and local governments brought in nearly $2.1 trillion, a 22.1 percent ($587.5 billion) decrease from 2008, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. Most tax revenue categories saw declines except property tax, which saw a 3.7 percent increase to $424.0 billion.

Trade News: Global Trade Trends: Cities, Doha, MENA, Shifting Wealth

From European Commission on Trade: New EU study shows significant economic benefits from a Doha deal. A recent study shows that the economic benefits arising from the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations in the World Trade Organisation amount to an increase of world exports of $359 billion on an annual basis from a deal on the liberalisation of industrial goods, agriculture, services and on the removal of red tape.  If an agreement on sectoral liberalisation of industrial goods (chemicals, machinery, electronics) could be reached, world exports would increase by a further $146 billion, totalling $505 billion annually.  Read more.

From Euromonitor: The Power of Proximity – the Complex Story of 21st Century Cities: For the first time ever, over half of the global population lives in cities, a number expected to reach 60-80% by 2050. While much of the urbanisation of the previous two decades has been in the Asia Pacific region, the next wave of urbanisation is expected to be in Africa and the Middle East.  Euromonitor International’s latest report, The Power of Proximity – the Complex Story of 21st Century Cities, examines the rise of megacities (with over 10 million inhabitants), and characterises mature, rising and emerging cities. Also considered are the relationships between cities and digital technology and culture, as well those between cities and inequality and political instability.

From ITCSD: Two steps forward, one step back: LDCs and the challenges of South-South trade in times of ‘Shifting Wealth’. Despite the pessimism that reigns in many high-income economies since the financial meltdown of 2008-2009, for most of the developing world the outlook is much rosier. In a dramatic turnaround in their fortunes after the debt-crisis of the 1980s and the financial turmoil of the 1990s, for the first time in many decades emerging and developing countries are now converging to per capita income prevailing in advanced economies. In the 2000s, as many as 88 emerging and developing economies were growing at least twice as fast as advanced economies.

From U.S. DOC: Pushing for Progress in the Middle East and North Africa.  Recent events have reaffirmed just how extraordinary this period is for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  The Arab Spring has generated a lot of hope for people across the region. However, it’s also presented a number of questions that need to be answered, many of which center around economic issues like unemployment and slow growth.  As the World Economic Forum (WEF) put it, “Recent shifts in the Arab world, coupled with an economic contraction at the global level, have created renewed urgency for decision-makers across the region to address the unfolding economic situation.”

From Global Edge: Social Media Potential in the Middle East. While social media sites are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, there is one region in particular where social media has nearly unlimited growth potential. That region is the Middle East and although there has been much concern surrounding the use of social networks for protest demonstrations, social media sites provide great opportunities for businesses of the region. In the Middle East the number of social media users has already doubled in the past year. Now, the question is whether businesses of the region will take advantage of social networks and use them as a brand building tool.

Veterans Day, 11.11.11. Background, Facts & Figures, Tribute Video & Poster Gallery

From Wiki: Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and falls on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armstice Day for November 11, 1919.  In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas man named Stephan Riod the owner of a shoe repair shop, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Riod had been actively involved with the American War Dads during World War II. He began a campaign to turn Armistice Day into “All” Veterans Day.

Veterans Day Tribute Video, created by a patriotic high schooler a couple of years ago.

From U.S. Census: Facts for Features: Veterans Day 2011: Nov. 11:

  • 21.8 million: The number of military veterans in the United States in 2010. 
  • 1.6 million: The number of female veterans in 2010.
  • 2.4 million: The number of black veterans in 2010.
  • 9 million: The number of veterans 65 and older in 2010.
  • 7.6 million: The number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2010.
  • 3: Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2010. These states were California (2 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.6 million).
  • 26%: Percent of veterans 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2010.
  • 92% :Percent of veterans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2010. 
  • 9.6 million: Number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2010.
  • 3.4 million: Number of veterans with a service-connected disability rating.
  • 9%: Percentage of all U.S. nonfarm firms that are majority owned by veterans.
  • 75%: Percentage of veteran owners of respondent firms who were 55 or older in 2007.
  • $35,367: Annual median income of veterans, in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars, compared with $25,605 for the population as a whole.
An interesting page, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that presents (for download and viewing enjoyment) official National Veterans day posters from 1978 to 2011.   Veterans Day Poster Gallery.

Use of Social Media by Companies Involved in the International Trade Industry

Everybody is talking about Social Media these days. Are you tweeting? How many Facebook friend and fans do you have (yes there is a BIG difference between fans and friends)?  Do my LinkedIn contacts know where I am and what I am doing?

First of all, what IS Social Media? Loosely defined, it is a way of anybody being able to communicate and build online communities easily and at no (or little) cost. It takes the form of large communities such as Facebook, user-built knowledge resources such as Wikipedia, multimedia collections such as YouTube, or blogs, which are self-published publications such as ..well…World Trade Daily!

The big question, however, for the international B2B (business-to-business) community is, “Why should I bother? I have enough to do keeping my business going. I really don’t care to see pictures of my clients’ dogs on vacation.” The main reasons for using Social Media in your business are to effectively and inexpensively get out the message about your company and enhance communication with your clients.

Facebook:  Most of the 750 million Facebook users use it to upload pictures of their pets, friends, parties and latest vacations. But there is a growing business community taking form on Facebook.  It is in its infancy, but it is better to get onboard now! To get started as a business on Facebook look at instructions. The best content to send on Facebook is news about trade shows you attend, new products from you or companies you represent, customer service and news about your industry niche. If your message includes a link to your website, you should create a separate Facebook landing page on your server so that you can identify the traffic as coming from Facebook.

Twitter: Twitter is an effective medium for communicating short messages. The content you “tweet” can be similar to the content you send on Facebook, but shortened to not more than 140 characters, and with links to a shortened URL that you can get at services such as One important feature of Twitter:  “retweeting” is a very effective viral tool. If somebody you are following posts a Tweet that you find particularly interesting or relevant to your business activities, make sure you retweet it to your followers. That way the person who originally posted it knows you appreciate their messages and increases the chance that they will retweet your messages to their followers.

LinkedIn: Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is a B2B social network. That is, everything you post on it should be related to your business and your career. When you set up a profile on LinkedIn make sure you tell a good story about your business and yourself. Millions of people and companies depend on LinkedIn when doing due diligence for business partners and employees.  And if you are a business owner or executive, set up a profile for your business. Make sure an email address on your profile is from your company’s domain name. Then set up a detailed description of your company  and start building “connections.” You can post news about your company and more detailed resources about your business. Also LinkedIn has a very important feature called “Answers.” Here you can post specific technical questions about your business area and you will get helpful and substantive responses from other professionals on LinkedIn. The great thing about Answers is that it both informs and give you the opportunity to establish you and your business as “thought leaders.”

Other social media sites:

  • Quora is similar to LinkedIn answers. There is an ongoing discussion about international trade subjects. This is another opportunity to be informed and establish your online reputation.
  • YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr and several other similar sites are great places to post videos and photos of your expertise, products or services. Make sure you have some compelling messages!
  • is a social media site especially for international trade. Here you can set up a profile for your company and add content, such as articles, videos or PowerPoint presentations that you may have.

Howard Cochran, International Business Professor, Belmont University

Belmont University was the very first CenTradeX customer- February 2004… after over three years of software development and the contributions of several handfuls of brilliant contributors. Among the most notable is Howard Cochran, Professor of International Business at Belmont University. He is a dedicated teacher, superior academician, compassionate humanitarian, china expert and a fellow data-phile.

One of the main perks about working in the international trade profession is the people you get to know. As I recounted upon numerous times… it’s people that are the are the real intelligence behind trade intelligence… not just technology. So here’s a bit about one.

Howard Cochran, Professor Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Dr. Howard H. Cochran, Jr.
Professor of Economics and Management
Belmont University, International Business

D.A. – Middle Tennessee State University
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Administrative Leadership
M.A. – Wayne State University, Economics
B.B.A. – Walsh College, Finance

Selected Honors & Awards:
Chaney Distinguished Professor Award Nominee (2009)

Presentation Excellence Award for Does China Underreport International Merchandise Trade Statistics?, Academic Business World International Conference (2009)

Best Paper Award, Academic Business World International Conference (2008)

Chaney Distinguished Professor Award Nominee (2008)


Dr. Howard H. Cochran, Jr., Professor of Economics and Management, teaches both undergraduate and graduate economics and international business courses in Belmont University’s College of Business Administration. He earned his B.B.A. in Finance from Walsh College, M.A. in Economics from Wayne State University, and Doctor of Arts in Economics from Middle Tennessee State University. He has also completed post-graduate study in administrative leadership at Harvard University.

He has taught courses in macroeconomics, microeconomics and international business. Being a veteran of international studies, Dr. Cochran has also lead several Belmont student study-travel trips to China. His teaching, research, and consulting interests are in the areas of economic education, managerial economics, and international trade.

Dr. Cochran is an advisor for firms seeking to source and sell products in that country. His most recent research relating to China includes articles with working titles including E-Music Growth in China – Obstacles and Opportunities for Foreign Firms, Toward Developing an International Index of Music Piracy, Use Chinese Merchandise Trade Data with Caution, Assessing the Impact of Trade with China on U.S. Manufacturing Industries, and Asian Manufacturing Trade Dominance. His extensive travels have taken him throughout North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Far East, and the Indian Sub-Continent. While in Bangladesh he was able to spend time with Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

His research has been presented at national and international professional conferences and published in academic journals including: International Advances in Economic Research, Atlantic Economic Journal, Journal for Economics Educators, Journal of Economics and Finance and has an article accepted for 2008 publication in the Journal of Business, Industry, and Economics.

Dr. Cochran has served the economics profession, Belmont University, his community and his church in a variety of endeavors. He has been honored by Delta Phi Omega for his guidance and mentoring of students. He is a director of the Nashville Rescue Mission and a member of the Tennessee Export Council, an appointment made by the United States Secretary of Commerce.

On Korea, Part 3: Meetings, Negotiations, Dinner & Alcohol

Utilize your network! Relationships are important in Korean society, they are the basis from which everything else is built, including business. The ability to accomplish your business goals is proportionate to who you know, and additionally their status and contacts. Korean companies are often members of larger conglomerates, and high ranking officers are usually involved with government agencies…waiting is all part of the game—there may be quite a few people you need to meet with in order for your proposals to go anywhere. The lone wolf that meets you for your business meting may serve as gatekeepers, but this person may be the one who sells your proposal to the rest of his company.  He or she are your first obstacle to success in South Korea, so present to him or her as if they were the last person you would present to.

Meetings: Most meetings, like China and Japan, are formalities with an exchange of information, so be prepared to provide copious amounts of it. Sending materials ahead of you so that your Korean colleagues can review it could be something to consider. It goes without stating to come well organized and prepared; during the meeting avoid disagreement and present a united front. These Irish of Asia are prepared to express emotions, and barter with you…en garde!

Negotiations: Korean negotiations are more emotionally charged than most other countries in Asia, and some in the West. They may be aggressive, direct and quicker to express anger or frustration…how are you going to react to all of this? Keep your cool (Save your face!). Usually if they have a good feeling about you, price (if fair) is not really an issue…let them buy your personality first, business is easier that way. Contracts are similar to the Chinese memorandums: flexibility is key. When your meeting starts to divert to social chit chat, your meeting is probably over…however if they are curious about a particular facet of your proposal…pursue it! Bow at the beginning and end of a meeting…and prepare to get to know everyone after hours.

After Hours: Dinner has become the main meal of the day, and business dinners invitations are customary. DO NOT DENY! It is important to establish these informal relations as it builds on your personal character, which is not really separate from you business persona. Koreans have similar dining etiquette as the Chinese and Japanese, concerning seating arrangements, how much food to put on your plate, the use and placement of chopsticks, etc, however “elbow support” is used when passing food or drink. Mutual trust and compatibility are the basis for good business relationships in Korea; in order to asses your true personality, alcohol is used. Among alcohol’s many powers, one of its main powers, unfortunately, is allowing people to speak their mind, regardless of situation. Know your limits, what may be said after a two, or three, or four, or five (are we starting to slur our words yet?) drinks can be taken seriously the following morning.

On Korea, Part 2: Introductions, Communication, Face & Flexibility

Introductions: No touchy! As with most Asian cultures, Korea is also a non-touching culture, so wait to be introduced to Korean colleagues. Business cards are typically exchanged, with similar practices of presentation as mentioned in previous countries (in the native language, use of both hands in presentation, accompanied by a slight bow, etc.), concluding with the Korean handshake, with what is known as “elbow support.” The Korean handshake is similar to China’s in its limp grasping of the other’s hand, but only using one hand (instead of two). “Elbow support” is when your right hand is extended, your left hand grasps your lower (extended) right arm. Caught ya! Be honest, you just tried to do it! The gesture has come to mean extra sincerity; it is a Korean gesture of hospitality and welcome; gifts, drinks, documents, and meals are given and received in the same manner. Women, do not expect Korean men to offer their hand first, you have to take the initiative; conversely Korean women may prefer not to shake a Westerner’s, particularly a man’s, hand. As you leave for the next leg of your journey throughout South Korea, a small farewell bow is expected to every individual present, though some younger staffers may wave.

Communication: Many older Koreans do not speak English, and since age is revered here, those people are probably the big players, but some young people may, since it is widely taught in schools. A translator may suit your purposes better, if you want to play it safe. A note of caution, Korea and Japan have some bitter relations, due to their history of invasion, so refrain from using your Japanese here, unless you represent a Japanese company.

Face, Silence, and Flexibility: Like China, context is important in South Korea, but allows for confrontational speech. Let’s be clear, direct, but not blunt…we are still trying to save (your) face here! While Koreans may say what they feel (remember, “Irish of Asia”), they are still mindful of preserving face and avoid being disrespectful (oh, Confucius!).  Koreans are also practitioners of silence, which they see as a proactive form of communication. Silence may be due to confusion, or lack of full understanding, or may be utilized to practice evaluate you and try to figure out what you are thinking  or feeling, a mind-reading process (all about saving face). As Westerners we tend to prefer noise, of some sort, even background noise, instead of silence. Suppress your urges and be silent! You don’t want to give more information than you are willing because you were looking to fill the void. The use of visual aids—pictures, graphs, numbers, charts—can be used to avoid confusion. When you are ready to sign “contracts” with Koreans, they are similar to China where these “contracts” are really “memorandums” where they outline how business partners intend to work together, in ever changing situations. This is a relationship: good business partners take care of each other.

On Korea, Part 1: Confucius, Individualism, Relationships & Trust

The U.S. and South Korea have enjoyed a long security alliance, and the revised free trade agreement will be the most commercially significant agreement in more than 16 years. South Korea will likely become a major U.S. trading partner…so laying some groundwork right now, would probably be a good idea.

South Korea has been conquered time and time again through different Asian countries, they have been considered the “Irish of Asia” sharing similar histories and becoming the defensive and feisty ones of Asia, you have to wonder if there’s any red hair there. Considered to be more individualistic and emotional than their Asian counterparts, Koreans do share cultural similarities with their Japanese and Chinese invaders.

Confucius Influence: Similar to both Japan and China, they have a long respect for Confucian teachings, especially those concerning hierarchy, seniority, modesty and honor. They show respect for seniority and rank through humility and preserving face, so watch what you say! Like Japan and China, they have similar protocols for showing respect that are determine from where you sit to who starts introductions.

Individualism: Though there is a stronger presence of Christianity in South Korea, those who are Buddhists follow the Mahayana tradition. This tradition of Buddhism stresses the strength of the individual in achieving nirvana, or the end of suffering. Koreans, like many Mahayana Buddhist countries believe that the universe is beyond their understanding, and that many things are determined on greater forces, such as fate and ancestors, but that the individual has the power to achieve nirvana.

Their Korean individualism is often at odds with their group oriented culture rooted in obligations to families or groups (workers or those involved in the family business). There is a strong feeling of interdependency of among members of a group or business, the group dynamic is therefore important; harmony is preserved by saving face, avoiding saying “no” directly. While Koreans may gather information from below, and decisions may be made with consensus, nuances of individualism still play a part in the process. For example, meetings are also usually conducted with an individual, or a few people, instead of with a group, so the person that meets you in the lobby, he may hold the keys to your success in the emerald city.

Relationships & Trust: Western individualism is recognized, but the self is down played in the big picture. Relationships are really what matter, the heart of Korean society, the grease that moves the wheels. These relationships usually determine future action. With good relations comes good kibbun (kai-bon) or good feeling, which involves trust and intuitive logic. Similar to how Chinese tend to do business with those they trust, it is similar in Korea, they prefer good energy between the two companies and peoples before conducting business. However, build a network: if your only point of contact is out of favor or somehow demoted, your business prospects are looking rather grim. Network, network, network: the right people can determine success or failure.

On Hong Kong: The Little Asian Tiger- Fully Grown & Unique

Hong Kong, known as one of the Four Asian Tigers, maintained high growth rates and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s and has developed into an advanced economy. Operating under the People’s Republic of China as a special administrative region, Hong Kong is one of the most bustling regions of China. Once a consolation prize to the British during the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was officially returned to China in 1997. The British used Hong Kong as a place to earn money and Hong Kong has become the financial capital of Asia.

Hong Kong Chinese are very fast-paced and look to the future, but still hold onto their Chinese cultural ways, including Confucian beliefs, concepts of acknowledging hierarchy, and guanxi (gwuan-she). Business meeting decorum, Chinese banquets, punctuality, and business card exchanges are all similar to practices on the mainland. However, Hong Kong has developed a personality all its own.

Whereas mainland Chinese speak Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese reigns supreme here. English is the lingua franca so don’t worry about having to memorize the six tones of Cantonese, your English will most likely be your mode of communication as many businesspeople speak English. In fact, with the language barrier no longer existing, you may find yourself more comfortable here than most of Asia, as this culture is highly westernized, resembling cities of Europe or the United States. Many people here are western educated and employ modern western modes of thinking more often that intuitive or associative modes of thought. There is little use of, or time for, silence as this city is fast-paced, where people speak very fast and very loudly, in both English and Cantonese. Since Hong Kong has special administrative privileges, there is also a free flow of information, as opposed to censored China.

You will also find that women play a larger role in business in Hong Kong, as opposed to China, where they adopt many western customs and habits. Hong Kong Chinese tend to Anglicize their names, and married women tend to adopt their husbands names (taking the form taitai-“Mrs.”). Hong Kong is also a huge shopping society and are avid followers of high-fashion, so while the signs may be in Chinese, you may feel like you’re in an another fashion capital in Europe. This is such a consumer culture that China allows visitors to enter Hong Kong (to spend money) in order to boost the Hong Kong economy.

When giving gifts in Hong Kong, your gifts tend to be more valuable and Western luxury-types, imported liquors, name brand items, etc. During the Chinese New Year red envelopes are filled with cash (crisp new bills, no even amount or number of bills) as a traditional gift, hong bao (hong-bow). Business people give these to associates who provided assistance during the previous year (but no one government related!) or to employees by employers.

Now that you know a little bit about Hong Kong, perhaps you will find your Golden Egg.

On Taiwan, Part 2: Meeting Etiquette, Seating, Banquets & Drinking

The Taiwanese usually take their vacations in the beginning of the year, encompassing Chinese New Year, so it would be best to schedule business meetings after March or April, but unless you’re a fan of rain, try to avoid the June through August monsoon season. So we have addressed that Taiwan has elements of both Japanese and Chinese culture, follows Confucian philosophy, the idea of harmony, and the use of indirect communication. The use of indirect communication adds to the persona of Taiwanese as low-key people who rarely display emotions (e.g. anger or open frustration) and consider a display of strong emotions as a loss of control. Business cards have been exchanged and translated into the Taiwanese variant of Chinese so we are just about to head into the meeting room, a couple pointers first…

The Taiwanese business organizational structure is one that demands impartiality and obedience. Decisions are made by the consensus of the group and are deferred to the oldest. They also tend to rely on their gut or immediate feelings as the primary source for making decisions, so your first impression on them is vital! Younger Taiwanese, however, are using more facts to make decisions (whew!). They also tend to think associatively and stress wholeness over fragmentation, so present them with plans for the big picture.

Meeting etiquette, seating, and purpose are the similar to practices in both China and Japan. Though the Taiwanese want to save face and preserve harmony, they are inherently Chinese and enjoy a good bartering process…so be prepared to make concessions. The basis of Taiwanese relationships, whether they are professional or personal, is respect and trust, and any breach of these will not be taken lightly. When presenting your proposal touch on major points, while being prepared to discuss all of its aspects. You may want to consider sending some of your materials before your arrive, so that your Taiwanese colleagues have the opportunity to look over them first. Breaking up your presentation into segments, allowing time between for any questions, may be something to consider as well.

If you think that after the meeting is done you are free to go….Wrong! Be prepared for the traditional Chinese banquet, where basic rules of Chinese banquets apply. If sitting at a roundtable, the honored guest will be facing the door, so that if ninjas attack your business dinner, the guest will be the first to know and the host the last. It is considered polite to try all dishes offered, but do not leave a full bowl of rice, it may be considered as rude. Resist discussing business at dinner, unless your host brings it up. Remind yourself to send a thank you note to your host when you return to your office or accommodations, for the banquets are usually just the start of a long evening of drinking and other forms of merriment. You may have to revisit your karaoke playlist from Japan.

On Taiwan, Part 1: A Formidable Asian Tiger In It’s Own Right

Another Tiger of Asia is Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa. While China has tried to reclaim Taiwan after the Japanese returned it following World War II, the Kuomintang claims it is the legitimate government of all Chinese people. The current rebel government of Taiwan is modeled on a representative democracy (celebrating its own Nationalist Day on October 10). It does not have “official” relations with the U.S. but has specific offices that maintain unofficial diplomatic representation. Its highly successful capitalist economy was at first a source of cheap piece goods labor, then it produced and assembled electronic components, and later emerged as a leading supplier of computer chips and information systems. Your phone probably contains some part that was manufactured in Taiwan, although you are advised not to take apart your phone to find out. With that being said, make sure that your products are patented or registered in Taiwan to prevent imitation.

Taiwan has come a long way, and yet it has nuances of both Japan and China. Like most of Asia, Taiwan adheres to the teachings of Confucian, particularly hierarchy concerning elders, where they are acknowledged first in a group, allowed to pass first, etc. Also like China and Japan, their approach to time is similar, be punctual, but things may take the time they need to develop. However, unlike China, where the basic unit of society is one’s work group, the basic unit here is the family. The purpose of life in Taiwan is to work hard, be successful in business and accumulate wealth for one’s family.

Japan’s presence is still felt in Taiwan, in not only the language—some of the oldest Taiwanese speak Japanese—but also in the idea of preserving harmony through saving face and indirect communication. When in a meeting with the Taiwanese, emphasizing the compatibility of your two companies, personal amicability, and desire to conduct business will make your company a more desirable business partner. Though profits are important, harmonious relations are crucial here.

Westerners are stereotyped as being boisterous, and unlike Hong Kong, dress here is more on the modest side, so try to leave the glittery skirts and red leather pants at home! Men should wear conservative suits and ties (you can remove your jacket if your Taiwanese colleague doe so first). Women should wear conservative skirts and blouses or suits; pantsuits are considered business casual. And as a side note, for women, revealing clothing may be considered as a mark of “poor” (*cough*loose*cough) character.

Since English is the second language spoken here, many businesspeople, especially younger ones, feel comfortable enough to communicate in English, and their names are in the same order as westerners. The exchange of business cards is similar to the importance of Japan and the style of the Chinese. Many younger, foreign-educated Taiwanese, use the handshake, or more like a handclasp, as a form of greeting. Taiwanese women will shake hands, however western women may need to initiate one with their Taiwanese male colleagues.