Archive | March, 2012

International Trade and Economic News: Global Obesity Epidemic

Obesity is a growing problem world wide, even in developing economies.  Check out this report from the OECD, “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat – United States Key Facts” and “Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat”.  Obesity has risen to the top of the public health policy agenda worldwide. Before 1980, rates were generally well below 10%. They have since doubled or tripled in many countries, and in almost half of the OECD 50% or more of the population is overweight. A key risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, obesity is a major public health concern.

The interesting, informational and disturbing chart below comes courtesy of Tony Shin: from the web site.

What has this to do with International Trade and Economics?  Well, as countries and cultures we export/import not only products and services… but our values and vices as well.  Some of the consequences of such are not ideal.  Notwithstanding, as Deng Xiaoping is quoted in saying, “If you open the window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in.” Alas, along with growing prosperity and leisure time, we must deal with burgeoning waistlines and escalating diseases.

Medical Coding Career Guide

Obesity is not only a problem in the U.S. but in developing economies as well.

Created by:

Recent International Trade Related News From PIERS Transportation

Launch of Next Generation iPad Propels Air Shipments. With the launch of the new iPad (dubbed by some tech sites as the iPad 3, although not its official name), Apple commanded air shipments causing a surge in airfreight rates, according to a BB&T Capital Markets report. Air cargo prices out of China increased 20 percent over the past week as Apple purchased space to ship its products in an increasingly capacity-strained environment, the report explained.

U.S. Containerized Imports Up for 3rd Consecutive Month, Led by Growth in Furniture, Auto Parts. Steady sales growth in both automobiles and existing homes over the last few months drove U.S. container import volumes up 4.1% in January to 1,475,608 million TEUs. This marks the 3rd consecutive month of year-over-year imports increase, and a month-over-month climb of 11%.  Adding to a continuous expansion lasting more than two years, January imports of auto parts rose 19%, while home sales spurred a 3rd straight month of increases in furniture, up 6%. The activity in the housing market bodes well for the short-term outlook of these volumes — the largest import commodity group.

Cool Cargo? Hot Data!  By 2014 container ships will transport three quarters of perishable reefer cargo as they take further market share from specialized refrigerated vessels, according to a new report by Drewry Maritime Research.  It was stated that the rise of containerized reefer shipping is depressing charter rates for refrigerated ships, which are facing a “cautious” financial outlook.  Reefer rates fell 10 percent in 2010 and are still retreating, although world trade in perishable products is increasing and demand for reefer capacity is “still healthy.” Container ships are forecast to carry some 74 percent of perishable reefer cargo by 2014, when they will provide up to 95 percent of capacity. But specialized reefer ships still have a future as niche carriers.

Slainte! A Look at Top Sources of U.S. Waterborne Beer Imports.  Before you down that mug of green beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, consider these figures pulled from PIERS data sources on the world’s top sources of U.S. waterborne beer imports (in TEUs).  Looking to keep track of a specific commodity? PIERS’ products give you a global picture of a commodity and the companies trading it. Analyze commodity growth trends, leading producers, source suppliers and more!

A (Razor) Sharp Idea for Gaining Competitive Intelligence. One of the world’s largest consumer brands and maker of popular men’s razor blades recently came up with a very clever and interesting way to use PIERS data for competitive intelligence.  The company suspected that one of their major competitors was getting ready to release a new razor blade in the U.S., but didn’t know what the new razor looked like or when they were planning to release the product.

From Panjiva: Fourth Quarter Trade Analysis and Last Month’s Trade Data Report

Panjiva, as I have reported previously within a series of articles on their company and products, has developed a respectable trade intelligence application that focuses on assisting U.S Importers with identifying and vetting foreign suppliers.  From what I have experienced thus far, they are a “class act” that is setting the pace within that particular niche.  Therefore, I am happy to pass on pertinent reports and updates, as I receive them.

Recently, from Panjiva – courtesy of Libby Fortier, Communications Executive on their behalf I got this communique:

“I thought you’d be interested in the latest two data reports from Panjiva, the leading source for information on global trade and overseas suppliers.  

First, the company today released its February monthly data report, which analyzes U.S. Customs data. Activity experienced a significant seasonal decline in waterborne shipments. Specifically, month-over-month the report found:

  • Number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 20% decline from January to February, which may be due to the Chinese New Year.
  • 12% decrease in the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S.

You can find further information on the February data on Panjiva’s blog here.

In addition, Panjiva also released its quarterly Trendspotting report (full version is attached to this email), which analyzes macro level trends from Q4 of 2011 using U.S. Census data. Some high level takeaways from this report include:

  • Toys, games and sports equipment shipments are down 13% quarter-to-quarter (specifically for video games).
  • Sweater shipments (knitted apparel) are down, likely due to the warm winter.

She forwarded me the the complete quarterly report, which I invite you do download and review at your leisure.  The following several charts will provide you a peek at their published results.

4th quarter winners by category

4th quarter winners - country

4th quarter losers by category Community Bulletin: Send Us Your Report Requests

Most week days we, at run various types of trade reports on a particular Metropolitan region, a corresponding top importer /exporter located in the area, products /components and designated trading partners (countries), in accordance with our motto; “Uncovering and Reporting on the Stories Buried within International Trade Data… Every Day.”  Weekends we reserve to run pertinent news stories – pulled from various sources – on some aspect of international trade and economics.  Every month I’ve also been drilling down into some technical aspect of trade data and business intelligence.  Occasionally, our readers will submit a interesting article to be included within our forum.

Since January 1, my son Isaac Thompson, who is finishing his first of two years in Graduate school at University of Tennessee – Chattanooga for Industrial Psychology, has been utilizing PIERS Prospects and Piers Stats Plus as well as a handful of ancillary data sources to develop the aforementioned Metro /company/product/country trade reports.

The selection is guided by his interest and input from myself and interested readers.  Therefore, we invite you – our readers – to provide us your suggestions and feedback on trade reports you would like to see developed.  In addition, you are welcome to submit particular requests related to a story you see published within our forums.  The following is a recent example resulting from the article, “Indianapolis, Indiana: Metro World Trade Profile – Top Importers & Exporters“.

“My firm has been engaged by Indianapolis Airport Authority to develop an airfreight strategy.  Pursuant to that end I have been in search of Indiana trade data by industry, firm, product, value, and weight for all imports and exports.
From your article, “Indianapolis, Indiana: Metro World Trade Profile-Top Importers and Exporters,” it appears you have the data. Are the Excel files available? If so, how might I get them?  Looking forward to your response.”

Response:  “Thank you for your interest. We certainly do have access to the excel files: all waterborne trade by industry and location. For individual companies we can see all the bills of lading. With a quick search there seem to be almost 2000 companies importing in the state. I included an excel file with all of them, titled Indiana Import Companies. One of the largest companies in the area is Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company. I included an excel file of their shipment for the last 12 months, titled Eli Lilly shipments. We can of course separate that data by import / export, commodity, etc.

The last attachment is a screen shot of the top industries in the area, Indiana, by weight shipped. We can view individual companies from this screen.  So it depends on the size of your project and what your goals are. We are available for any services you require.  I hope this helps.  

Download Indiana Import Companies.  Download Eli Lilly Shipments.

Top Industries shipping into Indiana by teus and weight

If your request exceeds the scope and size of an average article, Isaac is available, on a free lance basis @$35.00 per hour, to conduct research, analysis and write reports utilizing the very powerful trade intelligence applications at his disposal.  You may contact him via Linked-In or directly by email:

We also invite you to review a description of our additional commercially available technologies, databases and services.

From Euromonitor: Green Buying Behavior – Results from a Global Online Survey

From Euromonitor: Green Buying Behaviour: Global Online Survey: the importance of green descriptors. Despite the recession, issues such as sustainability, health, world poverty, animal welfare and food safety have become increasingly important factors guiding shoppers’ purchasing decisions.  Shoppers are more interested in the way their food is produced, especially in the face of the negative publicity surrounding modern, efficiency-driven production processes. As a result, retailers and manufacturers are quick to use green attributes as a point of differentiation.  From beauty products to household goods and groceries, terms such as “natural”, “organic”, “locally sourced”, and “fair trade”, have begun to feature increasingly on labels and ingredient lists, and many consumers are willing to pay a premium for them.

Chart 1 Global: “How important are the following factors/descriptors to you when considering purchasing a product or service?”

The survey revealed that while “quality” and “price” were still the overriding factors driving shoppers’ buying decisions, green descriptors are also now playing a greater role than ever before.  Although the general “green/environmentally friendly” descriptor ranked highest among these, with 53% of respondents deeming it to be fairly important, all other factors were supported by at least 44% of respondents.

Chart 3 Global: “I am willing to pay more for a product that is _”

The relatively affluent groups of Brazilian, Chinese and Indian consumers who took part in the survey were more concerned than those of any other country about environmental and ethical factors, while the Japanese showed the least interest in most descriptors.  Although the survey is not representative of the total populations of Brazil, China and India, given the skew towards affluent urban consumers, the findings were nevertheless indicative of a fledgling green movement among the middle classes.

Globally, all the listed green attributes matter more to women than to men with 56% of female respondents considering the descriptor “green/environmentally friendly” to be important, versus just 49% of males.  “Fair trade” was found to be important to more than half of shoppers (51%), despite the fact that domestic markets for fair trade products are as yet undeveloped in China, India and Brazil. Sustainability issues have come to the fore in recent years, and this is reflected in the fact that more than half (51%) of respondents felt strongly about the descriptor “sustainably produced.”

In a related story: Quick Pulse: Green Buying – An Exploration of “Green” Consumer Trends. While green factors do influence many respondents’ purchase decisions, they trail price and quality by a significant margin. Green products with the “natural” label hold the most appeal in some regions, more than strong brand names. Other green labels are less important in buying decisions.  Still, analysts feel that awareness of green products has been growing and will continue to grow in all regions, though many note that awareness does not necessarily translate to interest, especially if prices remain high.

From the OECD on the Global Environment: Act Now or Face Costly Consequences

From the OECD: Environment: Act now or face costly consequences, warns OECD.  As countries struggle with the immediate challenges of stretched public finances and high unemployment, they must not neglect the longer term. Action needs to be taken now to prevent irreversible damage to the environment. “Greener sources of growth can help governments today as they tackle these pressing challenges. Greening agriculture, water and energy supply and manufacturing will be critical by 2050 to meet the needs of over 9 billion people.” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction presents the latest projections of socio-economic trends over the next four decades, and their implications for four key areas of concern: climate change, biodiversity, water and the health impacts of environmental pollution. Despite the recent recession, the global economy is projected to nearly quadruple to 2050. Rising living standards will be accompanied by ever growing demands for energy, food and natural resources – and more pollution.

The costs of inaction could be colossal, both in economic and human terms. Without new policies:

  • World energy demand in 2050 will be 80% higher, with most of the growth to come from emerging economies (for North America about +15%, for OECD Europe +28%, for Japan +2.5, for Mexico +112%) and still 85% reliant on fossil fuel-based energy. This could lead to a 50% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally and worsening air pollution.
  • Urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation. The number of premature deaths from exposure to particulate air pollutants leading to respiratory failure could double from current levels to 3.6 million every year globally, with most occurring in China and India. Because of their ageing and urbanized populations, OECD countries are likely to have one of the highest rate of premature death from ground-level ozone in 2050, second only to India.

Premature deaths from ground-level ozone: Number of deaths per million inhabitants

On land, global biodiversity is projected to decline by a further 10%, with significant losses in Asia, Europe and Southern Africa. Areas of mature forests are projected to shrink by 13%. About one-third of biodiversity in rivers and lakes worldwide has already been lost, and further losses are projected to 2050.

Global water demand will increase by some 55%, due to growing demand from manufacturing (+400%), thermal power plants (+140%) and domestic use (+130%). These competing demands will put water use by farmers at risk. 2.3 billion more people than today –over 40% of the global population – will be living in river basins under severe water stress, especially in North and South Africa, and South and Central Asia.

These projections highlight the urgent need for new thinking. Failing that, the erosion of our environmental capital will increase the risk of irreversible changes that could jeopardize two centuries of rising living standards.


To avert the grim future painted by the Environmental Outlook to 2050, the report recommends a cocktail of policy solutions:

  • Using environmental taxes and emissions trading schemes to make pollution more costly than greener alternatives.
  • Valuing and pricing natural assets and ecosystem services like clean air, water and biodiversity for their true worth.
  • Removing environmentally harmful subsidies to fossil fuels or wasteful irrigation schemes.
  • Encouraging green innovation by making polluting production and consumption modes more expensive while providing public support for basic R&D.

International Trade News: Top 25 Metro Areas Increase Exports by Over 20%

From the ITATop 25 Metro Areas Increase Exports by 21 Percent. In 2010, merchandise trade exports to the world for the 377 (only 369 areas are available due to Federal disclosure regulations) U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) totaled $1.13 trillion, with merchandise exports from non-metropolitan “rural” areas totaling an additional $151.5 billion. Since the launch of the President’s National Export Initiative, merchandise exports from MSAs have increased 15.4 percent over the 2009 U.S. export figure of $975.7 billion.

Although the value of U.S. exports is concentrated in the top metropolitan areas, exporting is an important economic driver in nearly every metropolitan area. In 2010, more than one-third of U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1 billion in merchandise to the world. Eight of these metropolitan areas exported merchandise worth more than $25 billion with a further 19 metropolitan areas exporting more than $10 billion.

Among the top 25 MSA exporters, merchandise exports increased 21 percent between 2009 and 2010. This growth rate was consistent across the three largest metropolitan area exporters: New York City up 22 percent, Houston up 22 percent and Los Angeles up 21 percent.

Fourth-ranked Detroit leads metro areas in terms of growth, with 55 percent due mostly to the substantial recovery of the auto industry, as Detroit’s exports of transportation equipment grew 62 percent in 2010 to reach nearly $29 billion.

Find more information on MSA exports, including data and fact sheets for the top 50 exporting MSAs in 2010 available on the Office of Industry Analysis home page.

From Import Genius: A Brief History of International Trade. President Ryan Petersen speaks to students at UC Riverside about the history of world trade.  Ryan is a very passionate and articulate speaker.  It may be worth your time to check out this 45 minute video.

From Euromonitor.  Chinese Tourist Arrivals around the World.  For the travel and tourism 2012 research edition, Euromonitor International included arrivals from China in its inbound tourism data, where available, even if the arrivals did not make it into the top source markets. The aim is to obtain a greater understanding of which countries Chinese travelers visit internationally.

Regional travel dominates, but the US and France make the top 10:

Not surprisingly, destinations within Asia Pacific are the most popular for Chinese tourists. Shopping and gambling are strong attractions for mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong has also benefited from the expansion of the Individual Visit Scheme, allowing multiple entries to Hong Kong by Shenzhen residents since 2009. Arrivals from China grew from around 10 million in 2009 to over 13 million in 2011.

More open visa policy to lead to strong growth in arrivals:

The easing of visa restrictions will encourage more Chinese visitors to travel to Hong Kong, South Korea and the US during 2011-2016. According to the executive order signed in January 2012 by President Obama, the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security will have to increase visa-processing capacity in China in 2012, as well as interview non-immigrant visa applicants within three weeks of their application for a visa. The executive order also creates a new pilot program for Chinese visa applicants, allowing low-risk applicants to obtain or renew their visas without interviews.

Guest Blog by Barney Lehrer: Online International Trade Marketplaces

Since the advent of the public internet in the 1980s (before the invention of the World Wide Web), international traders have been posting “trade leads,” or messages about their products for sale and products that they need to buy. The earliest such systems were developed independently by the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) ( and a service of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) called the World Trade Point Federation. Both the WTCA trade lead system and the Trade Point system no longer exist. But to this day the service they introduced has expanded to thousands of “eMarketplaces” based throughout the world. Among the most famous are, Global Sources ( and TradeKey ( The FITA website has an extensive list of these marketplaces at

As international trade professionals well understand, successful import/export transactions can only succeed when both parties trust each other. The biggest drawback to electronic marketplaces is the reliability of the offers and demands that are posted on the websites. There are many people who may be posting scams or are not able to fulfill whatever they post. And to this day there are limited ways of performing due diligence by only relying on the eMarketplaces. Some of these websites have set up “Trust” procedures on their website. However even some of those due diligence services proved to be vulnerable to fraud, in some case from within the marketplace companies themselves.

Still, however, the eMarketplaces are invaluable tools for anybody in the world who wants to see what products are offered from which countries, what price levels are and who manufactures many items. And they can be good venues for finding suppliers and buyers as long as good standards of due diligence are established.

With the intent of helping international trade professionals navigate the intricacies of doing honest and effective international trade online, the trade promotion agencies of Canada, Norway and Spain run eMarket Services, a website that is a complete resource for using eMarketplaces. Among the free resources on the website are:

Another recent type of eMarketplace that is appearing is what we would call a “hybrid.” That is, these marketplaces, although internet-based, still rely on old-fashioned personal relationships as well as social media technologies to ensure that transactions are transparent and honest. One such marketplace is iComtrader Built by James Vena, an international trader with 20+ years working for and running successful trading companies, it relies on the personal relationships of the people in a worldwide network of offices. Other new “social media” marketplaces include Globial ( and Tradesparq However at this point neither of these seems to have generated much traffic or interesting content.

My advice? Be careful and good luck!

Trade & Economic News: Government Launches New Web Portals to Help U.S. Business

From New Website for American Businesses.  On October 28, 2011, the President issued a challenge to government agencies to think beyond their organizational boundaries in the best interest of serving America’s business community and start thinking and acting more like the businesses they serve. He directed the creation of BusinessUSA, a centralized, one-stop platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire.

To strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global economy, businesses will need to be equipped with the best tools and information available to support innovation and job growth in the 21st century. BusinessUSA is your front door to all the government has to offer.

Small Business Resources

Government Agency Resources

Starting a Business

Business Loans and Other Funding Options

Operating a Business

Expanding a Business

Expanding a Business

Another newly launched portal is: Startup America Policy Challenge. is an online challenge platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in partnership with ChallengePost that empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges. This platform is the latest milestone in the Administration’s commitment to use prizes and challenges to promote innovation.

What is a Challenge?  A challenge is exactly what the name suggests: it is a challenge by one party (a “seeker”) to a third party or parties (a “solver”) to identify a solution to a particular problem or reward contestants for accomplishing a particular goal. Prizes (monetary or non–monetary) often accompany challenges and contests.

Challenges can range from fairly simple (idea suggestions, creation of logos, videos, digital games and mobile applications) to proofs of concept, designs, or finished products that solve the grand challenges of the 21st century.

International Trade News: Reflections on OECD Development Centre 50th Anniversary

From the OECDHigh Level Meeting for the Development Centre’s 50th Anniversary.  17th of May 1961: Speaking in Ottawa, Canada, President John F. Kennedy suggested that the OECD should build the foundations for a Development Centre. His vision was to create a space, where advanced and developing countries could work together, free from politics and ideology, to help developing countries overcome their economic and development challenges.

In 1962, this vision came to life. A group of wise and forward-looking men, including economist and Nobel prize-winner Jan Tinbergen, outlined the Centre’s objective: to help policymakers find solutions to the challenges of development, poverty and inequality.  The Centre would share the expertise and experiences of OECD member countries in ways which were adapted to the needs and circumstances of developing countries. This was not about aid, it was about development!

The Centre has been tasked to pursue these goals: conducting rigorous economic analysis, stimulating contacts between OECD countries and developing countries, exchanging information and ideas, and increasing our knowledge about economic growth and progress.

At 50 years young, the Development Centre continues in the spirit of President Kennedy’s inspiration, but finds itself in a new reality.  Over the last ten years developing and emerging-market economies have greatly increased their contribution to global growth, shifting the economic centre of gravity to the South and the East. Developing and emerging-market economies now account for nearly 50% of world GDP, a far cry from the 36% that these countries represented when the OECD Development Centre was created in 1962.

Though the world may have changed in many ways, challenges remain. Poverty is still a worrying and stubborn challenge, even in the fastest growing developing and emerging economies. Inequality is on the rise in many parts of the world, including in many OECD countries. Social development and well-being are being constrained by a lack of basic public services, such as education and health care.

Today almost half of the global middle class live in developing and emerging economies. By 2030, it will be nearly 4 billion.

The OECD: In this changing world, the OECD is also changing the way it works on development and with developing countries. Although development has always been at the core of its mandate – it is the ‘D’ in the OECD – a broader approach is needed.  Therefore they are working on the OECD Development Strategy with a view to increase the coherence of their own policies and support developing countries in designing better policies.

A new approach to development requires new thinking about development. “Development” is no longer seen as a policy challenge for developing countries alone. Inequality, climate change and conflict make development a global objective with implications for both developed and developing countries.

Below is JFK’s 1961 speech.

An 8 minute video about the OECD