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Global News from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Tax: the average tax burden on earnings in OECD countries continues to rise. The average tax and social security burden on employment incomes increased in 26 out of 34 OECD countries in 2011 according to the new OECD Taxing Wages publication. Tax payers in Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and the Slovak Republic were among those hit with the largest increases. Those in New Zealand and the United States saw their tax burden fall. In Hungary, the average single worker without children was faced with the largest increase in the tax wedge, but for families with children, it fell.

Health: the high cost of diabetes. Across OECD countries some 83 million people suffer from diabetes. On current trends, that will rise to almost 100 million by 2030.  Like other chronic diseases, diabetes reduces employment opportunities and earnings. In addition, diabetics are prone to depression, making it difficult to follow treatment guidelines.  In the coming 10 years, more than two out of three people will be overweight or obese in some OECD countries. This has an impact on both their salaries and their health – across OECD countries, obese people earn up to 18% less than non-obese people. And they are 8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This jumps to 60 times more likely for the severely obese.

Prevalence of diabetes in 2010, adults 20-79 years

Credit crunch squeezing entrepreneurs and small businesses more than big firms. The credit crunch has been tougher for small and medium-sized businesses than for large companies. SMEs are crucial engines of economic growth, jobs and social cohesion, according to the OECD. In many countries they represent around 99% of all firms. Access to finance remains one of the biggest challenges in the creation, survival and growth of small firms.  Analyzing  data from 18 countries, the OECD report finds that business loans to SMEs fell sharply during the recession and although they picked up somewhat in 2010, they generally failed to reach their 2007 levels. Venture and growth capital also suffered a big drop during the period studied.

Further reforms needed to sustain Korean growth and social cohesion. Korea recovered faster and more vigorously from the global crisis than most OECD countries, but strong economic growth alone will not be enough to address the fundamental challenges posed by its rapidly ageing population and rising inequality, according to the OECD’s latest Economic Survey of Korea. “Korea is one of the most dynamic economies in the world, with low levels of unemployment and solid public finances that place it near the top of the class in the OECD,” Mr Gurría said. “The fundamental challenge today is designing policies to cope with its ageing population, which will be the second-oldest in the OECD by 2050, while bringing down income inequality and relative poverty, which have been rising for the past 15 years. Economic growth by itself will not be enough to achieve social cohesion.”

Trade & Economic News: Intellectual Property Contributes $5 Trillion & 40 Million Jobs

From DOC: Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy.  America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

The U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

From Euromonitor: Wendy’s Overtakes Burger King as #2 Burger Chain in the US.  Wendy’s has surpassed Burger King in the U.S. fast food market, becoming the number two burger chain in sales terms in the country, says Michael Schaefer, global head of consumer foodservice research at Euromonitor International. Burger King held the number two spot in total sales after McDonald’s for decades, so this ranking is a very surprising shift. Wendy’s accomplished this by capitalizing on the fact that consumers are now eating fast food at other times of the day rather than just lunch or dinner. It also advertises fresher and more premium options, which consumers are willing to pay more for.

From ERS/USDA: Alleviating Poverty in the United States: The Critical Role of SNAP Benefits.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the largest safety net programs in the United States, serving 44.7 million individuals in an average month in 2011. They used Current Population Survey data to examine the effect of SNAP on poverty from 2000 to 2009, by adding program benefits to income and calculating how SNAP benefits affected the prevalence, depth, and severity of poverty. They found an average decline of 4.4 percent in the prevalence of poverty due to SNAP benefits, while the average decline in the depth and severity of poverty was 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively. SNAP benefits had a particularly strong effect on child poverty, reducing its depth by an average of 15.5 percent and its severity by an average of 21.3 percent from 2000 to 2009. SNAP’s antipoverty effect peaked in 2009, when benefit increases were authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

From Census: Census Estimates Show New Patterns of Growth Nationwide.   Among the 50 fastest-growing metro areas over the last decade, only 24 of them were also among the 50 fastest growing since the 2010 Census. Our nation is constantly changing, and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much substate areas have grown or declined in total population since Census Day, April 1, 2010. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “We’re already seeing different patterns of population growth than we saw in the last decade.”

International Trade & Economic News: China Mobile Phone Market. Debt & Taxes Go UP.

From Euromonitor: China Passes the One Billion Mark for Mobile Phone Subscriptions.  The number of mobile phone subscriptions in China exceeded the one billion landmark in March 2012, the first country to do so in the world.  Growth in household incomes, infrastructure development and a boom in smartphones have driven subscription rates, providing telecom businesses with opportunities. However, state control, income inequality and still-low per capita mobile penetration holds back sector growth, although consumers are benefitting from increasingly lower prices.

Chinese household possession of a mobile phone has risen from 73.8% to 91.2% over 2006-2011.  The engine behind this growth has been increasing access among lower-income groups, boosted by Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei releasing budget models to compete with higher-priced foreign brands. There remain strong opportunities in the low-cost sector for wireless handheld devices, especially in rural and inland markets.

China’s mobile phone market has developed apace on the back of soaring economic advancement – real average annual GDP growth over 2006-2011 was at 10.9% – and a concomitant rise in living standards, as well as extended network coverage and increasingly cheaper deals offered by operators.

From OECD: Fiscal Consolidation: How much, how fast and by what means?  The economic crisis that began in 2008 caused government deficits to surge and pushed public indebtedness to 100% of GDP for the OECD as a whole in 2011. In many countries, just stabilising debt, let alone bringing it down to a sustainable level, will be a major challenge. The poor state of public finances will require wide-ranging fiscal consolidation in most countries, particularly in those whose pre-existing imbalances have been aggravated by the crisis, as well as in those facing rapidly rising spending on health and long-term care.

Bringing debt down to prudent levels will require sustained fiscal consolidations of more than 3% of GDP in many, though not all countries. Some countries must anticipate extremely large efforts: Japan faces fiscal tightening of up to 12% of GDP, while consolidation in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand is projected at more than 8% of GDP

From U.S. Census: State Government Tax Collections Increase $62 Billion in 2011.  Income Tax Revenue Up 9.7 Percent; Corporate Tax Revenue Up 9.2 Percent

Overall government tax collections for states increased $62.1 billion to $763.7 billion in fiscal year 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. Corporate net income tax revenue was at $40.2 billion, up 9.4 percent, while tax revenue on individual income was at $259.1 billion, up 9.8 percent. General sales tax revenue was at $240.9 billion, up 8.2 percent. Corporate net income tax revenue, individual income tax revenue and general sales tax revenue comprised 70.7 percent of all state government tax collections nationally.

All 50 states saw an increase in total tax revenue in fiscal year 2011, led by North Dakota (44.5 percent), Alaska (22.4 percent), California (17.4 percent) and Illinois (15.3 percent).

International Trade News from the OECD AID to Developing Countries Plummets

Development: Aid to developing countries falls because of global recession. Until 2011, aid had been steadily increasing for more than a decade.  Net ODA (official development assistance) rose by +63% between 2000 and 2010, the year it reached its peak.  ODA has long been a stable source of development financing and has cushioned the immediate impact of previous financial crises (e.g. after the Mexican debt crisis in the early 1980s or the recession of the early 1990s). However, a recession in several DAC donors has already severely squeezed their aid budgets and pressure may mount on other donors in the years ahead.

Major donors’ aid to developing countries fell by nearly 3% in 2011, breaking a long trend of annual increases. Disregarding years of exceptional debt relief, this was the first drop since 1997. Continuing tight budgets in OECD countries will put pressure on aid levels in coming years.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría encouraged donors to meet their commitments, “The fall of ODA is a source of great concern, coming at a time when developing countries have been hit by the knock-on effect of the crisis and need it most. Aid is only a fraction of total flows to low income countries, but these hard economic times also mean lower investment and lower exports. I commend the countries that are keeping their commitments in spite of tough fiscal consolidation plans. They show that the crisis should not be used as an excuse to reduce development cooperation contributions.”

In 2011, members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD provided USD 133.5 billion of net ODA, representing 0.31 per cent of their combined gross national income (GNI).  This was a -2.7 % drop in real terms compared to 2010, the year it reached its peak.   This decrease reflects fiscal constraints in several DAC countries which have affected their ODA budgets.  Within total net ODA, aid for core bilateral projects and programmes (i.e. excluding debt relief grants and humanitarian aid) fell by -4.5% in real terms.

Net ODA – ODA/GNI in 2011. Click on this link to access the online dynamic version.

In 2011, the largest donors were the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Japan.  The United States continued to be the largest donor by volume with net ODA flows amounting to USD 30.7 billion, representing a fall of -0.9% in real terms from 2010.

ODA from the fifteen EU countries that are DAC members was USD 72.3 billion in 2011. This represented 54% of total net ODA by all DAC donors.  ODA volume rose or fell in real terms in DAC-EU countries as follows:

  • Austria (-14.3%): mainly due to a decrease in debt forgiveness grants;
  • Belgium (-13.3 %): as bilateral debt forgiveness grants fell compared to 2010;
  • Denmark (-2.4%);
  • Finland (-4.3%);
  • France (-5.6%);
  • Germany (+5.9%): reflecting an increase in bilateral grants;
  • Greece (-39.3%): following the country’s severe fiscal crisis;
  • Ireland (-3.1%);
  •  Italy (+33.0%): because of an increase in debt forgiveness grants as well as an upsurge in refugee arrivals from North Africa;
  • Luxembourg (-5.4%);
  • Netherlands (-6.4%): reflecting the decision to fix the 2011 ODA budget at 0.75% of GNI;
  • Portugal (-3.0%);
  • Spain (-32.7%): because of severe cuts in bilateral aid resulting from the financial crisis;
  • Sweden (+10.5 %):  as Sweden continued to allocate 1 % of GNI to ODA;
  • United Kingdom (-0.8%): a slight fall after exceeding its target in 2010; however, the UK remains on track to achieve an ODA/GNI ratio of 0.7% by 2013.

Click here to view and download a PDF containing many informative charts and graphs illustrating the above.

International Trade and Economic News from Euromonitor: Rising Global Income Inequality

Income Inequality Rising Across the Globe: Income inequality has risen in most countries in the world over 2006-2011, driven by rapid population ageing, rising unemployment and government spending cuts in advanced economies, and urban/rural and skills divides in developing countries. Rising income inequality is changing consumer spending patterns and creating substantial opportunities for adaptable businesses, although it can also undermine a country’s business environment and growth potential. Key Points:

  • Developed economies tend to have lower income inequality levels, mainly thanks to their effective income redistribution policies. In developing countries, income inequality remains relatively high due to greater disparities between regions, genders, ethnicities and education. In 2011, Norway had the lowest Gini coefficient of 25.6% in the world, while South Africa was the country with the most unequal income distribution, at 63.6%;
  • During 2006-2011, income inequality has increased within most countries around the world, mainly due to population ageing and high government debts in developed economies as well as a lack of government policies and high levels of corruption in developing and emerging countries.
  • Rising income inequality within countries leads to a change in spending patterns, creating good business opportunities at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, especially in the luxury and budget goods sectors. It can, however, affect a country’s social stability, limit the expansion of the middle class and the country’s economic growth potential.
  • Economic slowdown and fiscal austerity measures as a result of the financial crisis in the eurozone and the USA could spell greater income inequality in advanced economies in the future.

Global differences in income distribution. There are large variations in income distributions within countries worldwide:

  • Income inequality is relatively low in developed countries, particularly in Europe, due to strong income redistribution policies through the tax and benefit systems. High taxes and expansive social welfare structures maintain egalitarianism in Scandinavian nations, while Eastern Europe is still shaped by its equality-based communist past.
  • Among developed economies, the USA has one of the highest income inequality levels.
  • Countries with the most unequal income distribution are clustered in southern Africa and Latin America. Due to its history of racial inequality under the Apartheid regime during 1948-1994, South Africa has the highest income inequality in the world.
  • In most developing countries, income inequality remains relatively high due to the existing income gap between gender, ethnicity, regions and educational/skills levels. In many countries, a lack of adequate government policy and resources to help the poor also contribute to poor distributions of income.

Note: A society that scores 0% on the Gini index has perfect equality, where every inhabitant has the same income. The higher the number over 0%, the higher the inequality, and a score of 100% indicates total inequality, where only one person receives all the income.

Trade and Economic News from Euromonitor: Top Consumer Trends of 2012

TOP 10 CONSUMER TRENDS FOR 2012: City Living Reigns.  In 2012, Euromonitor International forecasts that there will be 3.7 billion urban residents worldwide. The number of urban dwellers globally will continue to increase, both in ‘traditional’ megacities such as New York but also in new hubs such as Chongqing and Guadalajara. Meanwhile, a whole mass of new arrivals to cities, often falling into the so-called ‘bottom of the urban pyramid’ category, may have less disposable income but aspire to a higher consumption that will extend to more space and health cover.

World's Fastest Growing Cities: 2012 and 2030

City dwellers make up a rich tapestry of consumer types increasingly sophisticated, demanding, connected and interested in new brand offerings and experiences. Everything from tastes in cuisine and culture to shopping preferences and technology-driven real-world meet ups and interactions are broader. This allows for an often buzzing brand creativity responding to busy city consumer needs in food service, fresh and packaged foods, clothing and the arts. 2012 megacities are hubs of new and established ethnic groups and culture, older people with trend-sensitive lifestyles, students, highly skilled and low income migrant workers, consumers on city breaks, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) consumers and cross-generational households.  Below is the complete list of 10.

Top 10 Consumer Trends of 2012:  Consumer identity is expressed in more complex ways than through consumption alone. Today, identity also encompasses weight, online status, green thrift, and attitudes to reality culture – even in emerging markets. Here are 10 consumer trends of 2012.

  1. City Living Reigns: Swelling masses of urbanites with lifestyles to suit – style, tech and convenience-savvy – soak up new cultural influences that are blending with fresh brand experience-led approaches.
  2. Consumer Vigilantes Speak up: On and offline protest is in the spotlight, pressurising brands towards greater accountability and genuine innovative responses to these engaged consumers.
  3. DIY Life: Consumers are revelling in their ability to track and control their health, identity, communication and buying habits.
  4. Emerging Market Shoppers: Enjoying spending and coming to a place near you!  In 2012, throngs of emerging market shoppers around the world are aspiring to more consumption. They are now enjoying malls and chain stores with shopping centres now also attractive to the less well-off.

    Real Annual Disposable Income in BRIC Countries: 2010-2015

  5. Green Thrift: While frugality is celebrating all the tech-led innovations at its disposal, its marriage with sustainability is thriving.
  6. Reality Culture and Consumers: Scripted reality or celebrities living the dream – consumers are gripped, sharing views and being moved to change their purchasing behaviour.
  7. Smartphone Universe:  Displacing computers worldwide, and in 2012, smartphones are reaching out to the lower end of the mass market so expect apps to reflect this.
  8. Tech Lifestyles Vs. Slow Living and the Best of Both:  Some consumers are embracing an ‘always-on’ lifestyle while others are trying to disengage.
  9. Youth – Future Imperfect: Young consumers are facing up to a different, less predictable reality in terms of purchasing aspirations, work, living set-ups and role models.
  10. Weight as a hot topic:  Are we what we eat? More consumers, health experts and government bodies seem to think so although many heavier consumers are in denial. What are consumers doing to stay healthy?
Each of the above is expanded upon further in the linked article above… so check it out!
You can also view a video produced by Euromonitor, that highlights 5 important consumer trends within the emerging markets in 2012.

Recent International Trade News from Various T.I. Vendor Blogs

From PIERS: The Effects of Supply Chain Interruption on Pharma Trade.  In proportion to the rapid diversification of suppliers of raw materials, quality-related issues have grown rapidly in recent years. In order to achieve consistent quality assurance from upstream to downstream throughout supply chain, it is essential to verify the quality management system of raw material suppliers through auditing and also to establish a quality assurance system for distributing released products to customers without jeopardizing product quality.

This phenomenon has already shown adverse effects in Canada, where quality isn’t the issue—simply obtaining the right drugs has caused supply gaps. Recent reports say the federal government is working with pharmaceutical companies to address shortfalls in the supply of some prescription drugs, including a request that they seek alternative sources of the medications outside Canada. Hospitals in several provinces are reporting looming supply gaps for dozens of medications used in operating rooms, emergency departments and intensive care units.

Supply gaps are being blamed on a number of factors including a diminished supply of raw materials—many of them from countries such as China and India—and a burgeoning global patient demand for medications.

From Panjiva: Increased Shipments Show Bunnies will be Back this Easter. Panjiva has good news for those opening Easter baskets this Sunday. According to an analysis of U.S. customs shipment data, there was a 22 percent increase in shipments of “bunnies” this January, the month Easter items are shipped in order to make it to the U.S. in time to be packed into baskets. Shipments of bunnies, which include chocolates, toys and decor, steadily declined from 2009 to 2011, likely a result of the economic downturn and recession. However, with the economy hopping back on track, it should be safe to say that the Easter Bunny’s coming to town!

From Zepol: Zepol Offers “HTS Code Widget”.  Zepol’s recent creation of the “HTS Code Widget” allows media partners and industry professionals to access up-to-date statistics on thousands of HTS Codes…directly from their websites!

From Import Genius: Introducing TradePulse: A Free Tool to Analyze Import Volumes for Any Product. “We’re proud to introduce our newest free tool for analyzing U.S. import data, TradePulse. Type a product keywords into this free public service to find out the number of shipments imported into the U.S.”

“We’ve collected more than 66 million shipping manifests since we started tracking U.S. ocean freight imports in 2006. We’re now opening much of this data to the public for free as part of our mission of opening up the lucrative world of international trade to more people. To try our new search tools, simply visit

From Datamyne: No Winner in Chinese Solar Case. Commerce finds countervailable subsidies, but will tariff help US industry?

The 25th Annual NASBITE Conference is coming Soon. Don’t Miss It!

NASBITE is a professional organization for the global business community. Members include educators, trainers, trade specialists and practitioners that engage in or facilitate global business activity. NASBITE originated as the North American Small Business International Trade Educators bringing together international trade programs nationwide.

NASBITE is one of the finest groups of folks with whom I have ever had the pleasure of associating.  As a vendor, exhibitor, or presenter (and currently as a news reporter), I have attended many of their annual conferences and have been privileged to serve many of the members as my clients and/or development partners.

I consider NASBITE the one essential group/ conference to attend for anyone wishing to connect with other international trade educators and professionals, as well as for those desiring to expand their knowledge and understanding of pertinent issues and research.  So be alerted to the fact that this year’s conference is being held in Portland, Oregon, April 18th – 20th.  The registration deadline in only a couple of days away – April 6th.  Click this link for additional information.

For those that are new to NASBITE, let me brief you on a couple of cool things that they offer.

First of all, they spent many years developing a credentialing program called the CGBP; Certified Global Business Professional.  The NASBITE CGBP certification confirms knowledge in international trade and assures that employees are able to practice global business at the professional level required in today’s competitive environment.  The CGBP is a must for those entering the international trade professional, as well as those who want to expand their knowledge and opportunities in the field.

During the conference there is plenty of time to meet and mingle with other international trade professionals. There are engaging activities to participate in as well as interesting educational sessions to attend.  It’s a great mixture of fun, connecting, education and vocational advancement.  Below is an outline of the agenda for the upcoming conference.  Click this link for a more detailed conference agenda including presentation titles, speakers and more.

Conference Agenda

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. CGBP Bootcamp Day 1

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. CGBP Bootcamp Day 2
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Conference Registration
12:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Board of Governors Meeting
6:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m. Presenter Orientation
6:15 p.m.-6:45 p.m. First Timers Orientation
7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Opening Reception

Thursday, April 19, 2012
7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Conference Registration
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8:00 a.m.-9:30a.m. Keynote Speaker
9:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Session I
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session II
12:45 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Lunch and Keynote Speaker
2:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Session III
3:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Company Roundtable Discussion

Optional Outing: The Portland Brewery Tour

Friday, April 20, 2012
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8:00 a.m.-9:30a.m. Keynote Speaker: Dario J. Gomez, Associate
Administrator for International Trade, US SBA
9:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Session IV
11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Session V
12:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Lunch and Awards
3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Session IV
6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. NASBITE CGBP Celebration Reception

Saturday, April 21, 2012
8:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Board of Governors Meeting

Register Now. 

International Trade News: The Undervalued Value of Foreign Direct Investment

From the DOC: Promoting Best Practices in Exports and Foreign Direct Investment to Spur Economic and Job Growth. When President Obama first announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) two years ago—with its goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014—there may have been some who wondered what this had to do with domestic economic development. But the answer is simple: a lot. From the worker in an auto plant owned by a foreign firm, to the many service businesses across the country selling to overseas visitors, to the U.S. companies from every sector selling their products and services to foreign buyers, America’s economic vitality is very much tied to the world market. And the benefits are many: more jobs, higher wages, and the overall prosperity that comes when we are selling to billions of consumers worldwide.

One often-overlooked element of international trade is foreign direct investment (FDI). The United States is the largest recipient of FDI in the world. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States support more than 5.3 million U.S. jobs, and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms account for 21 percent of U.S. exports. The total stock of FDI in the United States—$2.3 trillion—is equivalent to nearly 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

But there is room for such investment to grow. The U.S. share of world FDI has been declining since the 1990s, as other economies aggressively compete to attract such investment. One impediment to FDI growth in the United States has been the lack of concrete tools and strategies available to local economic development practitioners that could help them more effectively leverage their communities’ competitive strengths to expand exports and attract FDI.

In an effort to help fill this gap, EDA recently partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Corporation to establish the FDI Best Practices project. This collaborative effort will eventually make available the kinds of information that local communities will need to attract overseas investment and the jobs that can come with it.

The project has already undertaken a number of steps to create a comprehensive knowledge base on FDI: reviewing relevant literature to better identify lessons learned from communities and practitioners; surveying the practices of various economic development organizations; and conducting interviews and focus groups to determine successful FDI strategies. The end result of this effort will be a user-friendly guide, along with a web-based toolkit that will outline steps that practitioners can take to attract investment to their communities.

The results of the Georgia Tech project are expected to be available later this year. For more information, visit

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

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

Economic & Trade News from the DOC: Obama Initiatives on FDI, Exports & Manufacturing

President Obama Announces First Annual SelectUSA Investment Summit. Launched by Executive Order in June 2011, the Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA program is the first-ever federal effort to help attract, retain, and expand business investment.  Historically, U.S. states and cities have found themselves competing against foreign governments to attract business investments, with the federal government playing only a nominal role in the competition for global investment.  Rather than providing new incentives for investment, SelectUSA plays the critical role of advocacy, coordination, facilitation, and information gathering and sharing.

Business investment by both domestic and foreign firms leads to economic growth by impacting U.S. jobs and exports. Foreign investment plays an important role in the U.S. economy:

  • Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States support over 5.3 million U.S. jobs,
  • U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms account for 21 percent of all U.S. exports, and
  • The $2.3 trillion stock of FDI in the United States is equivalent to nearly 18 percent of U.S. GDP.

The United States is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world. In 2010, it saw the level of inbound foreign direct investment increase 49% over the 2009 level. However, the share of FDI captured by the United States has consistently decreased since the 1990s as other economies continue to open up and compete for FDI attraction to their respective markets.

Commerce and FedEx Team Up to Provide Opportunities for Exporters.  In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama set a goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 – an increase that will support two million additional jobs here at home. In a time when millions of Americans are out of work, boosting U.S. exports is a short-term imperative because exports support millions of good, high-paying American jobs. And for companies looking to expand, looking beyond our borders only makes sense because 95% of the world’s customers are outside our borders.

Commerce’s EDA Promotes American Manufacturing. Manufacturing represents nearly 60% of total U.S. exports and will play a vital role in America’s economic recovery.  Federal agencies are making significant investments in innovation and American manufacturing. During the past two years, we have begun to see positive signs in American manufacturing, with the manufacturing sector adding more than 400,000 jobs-the first period of sustained job growth in manufacturing since the 1990s.

President Obama Announces New Steps to Promote Manufacturing, Increase U.S. Exports.  The president initiated a series of executive actions laid out in the Blueprint for an America Built to  put Americans back to work and strengthen the U.S. economy. These initiatives will create jobs and make U.S. businesses more competitive in the global economy:

International Trade News on Obama Export Plan & Economic Growth by PIERS

From PIERS: Double U.S. Exports in 5 years… How do we do that?  During his 2010 State of the Union address President Obama boldly proclaimed his plans to double U.S. exports in 5 years, which in turn would create an estimated 2 million American jobs.  The National Export Initiative outlined a plan that would grow U.S. exports to $3.14 trillion annually by 2015, but how exactly does the Obama Administration plan to achieve this?  Read the Piers Analysis.

President Obama Focuses on Transportation and Manufacturing Growth Initiatives.  President Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget on February 13 for the fiscal year 2013 that aims to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. While the plan envisions growth in areas like health benefit programs, there is also a major focus on transportation and plans to make U.S. manufacturing more competitive.

The transportation section of the budget is actually a 39.4 percent decrease since 2012, but still aims to spend around $50 billion for roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossing railways and runways in the current fiscal year to spur job creation. The key difference is that last year’s budget, while citing a larger allocation, didn’t include proposals to pay for transportation investments, and it is predicted the House and Senate will struggle again to find money to pay for these projects.

U.S. Containerized Exports Slid 0.2% in Q4 2011.

As predicted, by PIERS/JOC Economist Mario Moreno, U.S. container exports decelerated in Q4 2011 as European markets declined sharply and the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar stabilized. Exports dipped 0.2% year-over-year in Q4 to a total of 3,002,088 TEUs.  Major losses were mostly seen in fabrics, including raw cotton (-29%) and pet & animal feeds (-12%). Other losses were seen in synthetic resins (-12%), foam waste & scrap (-12%), and motor vehicles (-7%). Offsetting part of the losses were two major reefer goods: meat (+36%), and poultry (+28%). Other gains were seen in logs & lumber (+13%), waste paper (+2%), mixed metal scrap (+11%), and soybeans & products (+14%).

Steady Expansion in Home Sales Market Vital for Sustained Growth, Cautions PIERS Economist.  U.S. containerized imports closed 2011 at a point of upward trajectory — up 3% Y-o-Y, with December marking the second month of continuous growth at 2.4%, and the fourth quarter closing 1.9% above the same period last year. But, with growth heavily influenced by the fragile housing market recovery, the outlook for 2012 remains cautious, said PIERS Economist, Mario O. Moreno.  Declining new-home sales were balanced by increases in movement of existing properties, which supported a 5% upswing in U.S. furniture imports. Growth in the manufacturing sector also pushed auto parts imports up 19%, driving December increases in imports from Germany and Mexico. Requests for the import or return of empty containers, for U.S. export and domestic use, rose by 264%.

What Happens to Old Shipping Containers?  What else can you do with recycled containers? Apparently, container buildings have become more prominent in recent years as green building innovations have emerged. Check out some other ways containers are being used for.

Trade & Economic News from Euromonitor: Credit Crunch, Exports & Consumer Trends

Regional Focus: Another Credit Crunch for Eastern Europe?  The unravelling of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis throughout 2011 and 2012 is placing increasing pressure on Eastern Europe, as Western European banks continue to withdraw liquidity from the region. An ensuing credit crunch could potentially halt economic growth across a number of regional economies, with both businesses and consumers hit by credit restrictions and falling expenditure levels.

Eastern Europe Exports

Western Europe is the primary destination of Eastern European exports, largely due to regional proximity, EU trade links and high levels of demand from major economies such as Germany and France. However, as a frugal tone sets over the EU, amid recession and possible debt crisis contagion, Western European economies are likely to significantly reduce their imports, hitting Eastern European exporters. In 2010, Eastern Europe’s exports to the EU-27 reached US$712.2 billion, accounting for 64.4% of the region’s total exports for the year.

Slowdown in Global Arrivals in 2012 as Euro-zone Faces Decline. Due to their high dependence on intra-regional travel, many Euro-zone countries are set for a fall in 2012 as austerity measures and on-going economic uncertainty take their toll, with demand from key European source markets weakening.

Top 10 consumer trends of 2012.  Euromonitor International has identified the top 10 consumer trends of 2012: Click the link to read more.

  • City living reigns
  • Consumer vigilantes speak up!
  • DIY life
  • Emerging market shoppers
  • Future imperfect – youth
  • Green thrift
  • Reality culture and consumers
  • Smartphone universe
  • Tech lifestyles versus slow living and the best of both
  • Weight as a hot topic/ Health kick

Top Ten Foodservice Chains to Watch. While U.S.-based chains remain dominant in many markets, competition from local players has grown exponentially over the last five years, with local players across the globe growing in both sales and ambition.  Several Food Chains are well on their way to taking their place as major global players over the next ten years. While booming markets like China, Brazil, and India are well-represented, real innovation is underway on every continent, from Latin America to Western Europe, as local stalwarts combine lessons learned from leading global chains with real advances of their own.

Current Trends in the U.S. Snack Industry.  In honor of National Snack Food Month, Euromonitor analyzes the current trends in the U.S. snack industry.

  • Hot/Spicy Flavours “Heat Up” the Market
  • Unique Snack Formats Reshape the Industry
  • “All-Natural” is Key
  • Merger/Acquisition Activity Grows
  • “Healthy Alternative” Snacks Gain Momentum

Trade & Economic News from the DOC; R&D, Export & Manufacturing Jobs

Why Investing in R&D Matters.  The latest data (PDF) show that if R&D spending was treated as an investment, rather than a current expense, the level of GDP would have been, on average, 2.7 percent, or $301.5 billion, higher than reported over the period 1998 to 2007. It’s estimated that business investment in R&D had a significant contribution to economic growth over the same period, accounting for about a 4 percent share of the growth in real GDP, on average.

Which industries are currently putting the most into research and development? According to the BEA (PDF), biotechnology, and information, communication and technology (ICT) industries accounted for four-fifths of the business sector’s R&D contribution to GDP growth between 1998 and 2007. Transportation equipment industries contributed about 11 percent.

Moving in the Right Direction on Jobs – Let’s Keep our Focus on Building it Here and Selling it Everywhere. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent and 243,000 jobs were added in January, making this the 23rd consecutive month of job growth. Private sector job growth has been driving the decrease in unemployment, with the private sector adding 257,000 jobs last month. The manufacturing sector alone grew by 50,000 jobs in January, showing that manufacturing is still an important and growing part of the American economy. In the last two years, manufacturing added 330,000 jobs in the U.S. – the strongest growth since the 1990s.

Exporting Products “Made in America” Supports Jobs Here at Home. “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States”—recently highlighted in 2009, manufacturing made up more than 11 percent of GDP.  It employed nearly 12 million workers. And these are good jobs. In the manufacturing sector, total hourly compensation is, on average, 22 percent higher than the services sector.

85 percent of world economic growth over the next five years will take place outside of the United States. Meanwhile, exports mean jobs. In 2010 alone, exports supported 9 million jobs. And, 60 percent of those exports came from manufacturing. So, the correlation between jobs, exports and manufacturing is clear.

Brundage Post: Resurgence of the American Auto Industry.  Today, the American auto industry is coming back, creating jobs and moving cars off the line. Last month, the automotive industry added nearly 11,000 positions, bringing the total number of jobs added in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 36,000. The industry added 100,000 jobs over the course of 2011.

Since Chrysler and GM emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009, the auto industry has added back more than 170,000 jobs, the best period of job growth in more than a decade. While there’s more work to be done, it’s clear the auto industry is moving in the right direction.

In December, we saw auto sales climb for the seventh consecutive month. The Big Three—Ford, GM and Chrysler—all saw sale increases for December, and the year as a whole.

Food & Agriculture News from ERS/USDA: Land Use, Productivity & Major Trends

From ERS: Major Land Uses. ERS has been a source of major land use estimates in the United States for over 50 years, and the related U.S. cropland used for crops series dates back to 1910. The Major Land Uses (MLU) series is the longest running, most comprehensive accounting of all major uses of public and private land in the United States. The series was started in 1945, and has since been published about every 5 years coinciding with the Census of Agriculture. See the latest report in the series, Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2007.

The United States has a total land area of nearly 2.3 billion acres. In 2007, the major land uses were forestland at 671 million acres (30 percent); grassland pasture and rangeland at 614 million (27 percent); cropland at 408 million (18 percent); special uses (primarily parks and wildlife areas) at 313 million acres (14 percent); miscellaneous uses (like tundra or swamps) at 197 million acres (9 percent); and urban land at 61 million acres (3 percent).

Agricultural Productivity in the United States.  It is widely agreed that increased productivity is the main contributor to economic growth in U.S. agriculture. This data set provides estimates of productivity growth in the U.S. farm sector for the 1948-2009 period and estimates of the growth and relative levels of productivity across the States for the period 1960-2004.

The level of U.S. farm output in 2009 was 170 percent above its level in 1948, growing at an average annual rate of 1.63 percent. Aggregate input use increased a mere 0.11 percent annually, so the positive growth in farm sector output was substantially due to productivity growth.

Every State exhibited a positive average annual rate of productivity growth over the entire 45-year period. Average annual rates of growth ranged from 2.6 percent for Oregon to 0.5 percent for Oklahoma. California and Florida had the highest relative levels of productivity.

Food Price Outlook, 2012. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food is probably the most widely used indicator of changes in retail food prices. ERS regularly updates food price forecasts for the short-term period. The CPI for all food is projected to increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2012.

Agricultural Outlook Statistical Indicators. Statistical Indicators published by ERS/USDA address a broad spectrum of agriculture-related issues including commodity and food prices, general economic indicators, government program expenditures, farm income estimates, and trade and export statistics.

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provides USDA’s comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops and U.S. livestock. The report gathers information from a number of statistical reports published by USDA and other government agencies, and provides a framework for additional USDA reports.

Economic News by the Numbers: GDP, Service Sectors, Personal Income & Jobs

From BEA: Gross Domestic Product, 4th quarter and Annual 2011 (advance estimate). Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 1.8 percent.  The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from private inventory investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, residential fixed investment, and nonresidential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

From DOC: Census Bureau Reports Post-Recession Growth in 10 of 11 Service Sectors. The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau today released its 2010 Service Annual Survey, which shows that of the nation’s 11 service sectors, 10 showed an increase in revenues for employer firms between 2009 and 2010. These figures are the first findings from this survey to track the revenues of services after the December 2007 to June 2009 recession.

The information sector increased from $1.08 trillion to $1.1 trillion. Within this sector, Internet publishing and broadcasting continued to see increased revenues, up 11.3 percent from $19.1 billion to $21.3 billion in 2010. Television broadcasting increased 12.0 percent from $31.6 billion to $35 billion. Cable and subscription other programming as well as wireless telecommunications carriers also saw increases in revenue of 7.3 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, to $55.2 billion and $195.5 billion.

From BEA: Personal Income and Outlays, December 2011. Personal income increased $61.3 billion, or 0.5 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $47.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, in December, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) decreased $2.0 billion or less than 0.1 percent. In November, personal income increased $7.4 billion, or 0.1 percent, DPI decreased $4.1 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, and PCE increased $11.4 billion, or 0.1 percent, based on revised estimates.

From ITA: Creating Jobs: “Plane” and Simple. As with most exports of large, high-tech products, the export of one aircraft (or ship, or large piece of machinery) is the result of a huge supply chain that touches people and communities across the United States. The U.S. aerospace industry has the highest trade surplus of any U.S. manufacturing industry and supports more jobs through exports than any other manufacturing industry.

These jobs are the kind of jobs the United States is seeking—high technology, high wage, and high skilled. And with each of these jobs, thousands of other indirect jobs are created that support the work and lives of these employees. In fact, the aerospace and defense industry employed over 818,000 people in the United States in 2009 and supported an additional 1.8 million U.S. jobs in related fields.

Trade News from Euromonitor: Mexican Economy, Kid Tech. & Global Retailing

Mexican Economy Threatened by USA’s Economic Slowdown.

Mexico could face a protracted economic downturn in 2012 if the USA continues its economic slowdown, with the world’s largest economy having experienced a ceiling-debt crisis in 2011. Mexico is reliant on the USA for its exports, and consumers and businesses could feel the pinch should demand in the North American country fall. However, Mexico, as the second-largest economy in Latin America, continues to hold a strong consumer market, with opportunities for investors.

The Mexican economy is closely interlinked with the USA, sending 80.0% of its total exports to the USA in 2010. Negative economic shifts in the USA can thus impact Mexican businesses and consumers, reducing exports, investments and remittances inflows, as well as impacting labour markets.

The US debt-ceiling crisis and projected marginal economic expansion in 2011 point to a continued economic slowdown in the country in 2012. However, although Mexico stands to be affected, its increasingly diversified exports, large domestic consumer market and expanding economy mean the country is somewhat protected from external shocks. Mexican annual real GDP growth stood at 5.4% in 2010.

IPO Market Performance in the GCC Region. Global retailing is still struggling from a lack of global confidence, states Jon Wright, head of global retailing research at Euromonitor International. However, given the economic slowdown, tax increases and consumer concern over unemployment, the consumer spending exceeded expectations towards the end of 2010 and into 2011. The global retailing industry was driven by Latin America and the Middle East and Africa, both of which saw 4% sales growth in constant terms. Watch the video below

Children and Technology – How Are They Using it and What Impact Will it Have on Them?

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2009, young people aged between eight and 18 years in the USA spend an average of almost 1.5 hours using the Internet every day and nearly 1.25 hours playing video games. Top online activities included social networking (22 minutes a day on average), playing games (17 minutes), and viewing videos (15 minutes). 74% had a profile on a social networking site.

The survey also identified a significant increase in the ownership of portable gadgets among those aged between eight and 18 years between 2004 and 2009, from 39% to 66% for mobile phones, and from 18% to 76% for MP3 players. The survey also found that media use increases substantially once children enter the 11-14 year-old age group.  The chart below shows the Daily Media Use among the Population aged 8-18 in the USA: 2009

The chart below depicts the Value Global Sales of Traditional Toys and Games and Video Games Hardware and Software: 2005-2010

Trade News from Datamyne’s Business Intelligence Blog: Peru’s Copper Exports Falter

From Datamyne: Peru’s Copper Exports Falter. The Financial Times reports that Peru’s government will name three international consultants to monitor the environmental impact of the $4.8-billion Conga gold and copper mine, the biggest single investment in the country’s history. The government also announced it will invest $1.6 billion in the infrastructure in Cajamarca, where the mine is located, in an effort to allay the concerns of protesters who have forced a suspension of operations at Conga.

The Eurozone’s financial crisis and the slowdown in Chinese purchases of commodities helped depress metal prices as 2011 wound down. Datamyne’s export trade data indicates a fall-off in volumes and slightly steeper drop in values of Peruvian exports of copper, a bellwether metal in international trade that they’ve been tracking (see here and here).

But the longer-term forecast is for high-growth demand for ever-scarcer natural resources found in just a handful of locales around the world. The scramble to secure mining rights is well underway. Currently ranked first in world production of silver, second for copper, and fourth for molybdenum, Peru is not only rich in resources, it is politically stable, and its government has pursued policies welcoming to miners – a triple-play that has attracted significant investment.

This investment is crucial to Peru’s fiscal budget. Minister of Finance, Luis Miguel Castilla, has said that mining contributes about 40% of government revenue and two points in GDP growth. Substantial mining investment, together with strong domestic demand, is why the FT forecasts at least 5% growth for the Peruvian economy in 2012, even if exports take a dip.

Earlier this month, Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines reported (in spanish) that mining interests had invested $6.075 billion in the first 11 months of 2011, up 71.9% from the same period in 2010.

Cajamarca was the top destination for the investments attracting $1.16 billion during the period. Small wonder that the Peruvian government is working hard to placate Cajamarca’s protesters and get production at Conga back up and running – investors are watching closely.

Meanwhile, China’s imports of copper were already on the way up as the end of 2011 neared (as Datamyne’s Chinese import data shows below) – and are expected to surge as the New Year of the Dragon begins.

Trade News: Manufacturing Outlook in the U.S and China – Rhetoric & Reality

From Euromonitor: China Leads Global Manufacturing Output. In 2010, China was the world’s largest manufacturer and stands to maintain this in 2011. Low labour costs and economic growth have allowed China to become the destination of choice for global businesses looking for offshore manufacturing. Consumers have benefitted from the resulting competition for production costs. However, China’s one-child policy and rising wages are restricting manufacturing and labour growth, while the country has earned the unwanted tag as the world’s low-quality producer.

China’s total manufacturing production expanded by 107.9% in real terms over 2005-2010, amounting to US$10.2 trillion, the largest total worldwide, and more than double that of second-placed USA. The country’s large manufacturing base has been key in attracting foreign businesses and boosting the domestic labour market, while Chinese consumers have benefited from lower prices on locally produced goods. Nonetheless, high rates of inflation, growing wages and a shift in government policy are beginning to erode China’s manufacturing edge, with businesses increasingly turning to cheaper Asia Pacific producers. With manufacturing making up 29.5% of GDP in 2010, one of the highest ratios in the world, China remains vulnerable to external demand shocks.

However, China is losing its advantage as a low cost environment for labour. The country’s one-child policy is resulting in shortages of labour which permits workers the leverage to demand better wages. Rapid population aging is narrowing the labour pool, while high inflation is increasing export and transportation costs. Wages per hour in manufacturing increased by 63.1% in real terms over 2005-2010.

From Tradeology (ITA): The Manufacturing Council: A Public/Private Sector Partnership for Progress.

Why is the manufacturing sector so important? Its because, historically, it has been a key to U.S. economic growth, provided a ticket to the middle-class for American workers, and been home to some of America’s greatest innovations.  Looking ahead, as Secretary Bryson recently told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “without a strong manufacturing base, we can’t create enough good jobs to sustain a strong middle class. And without a strong middle class, we cannot be a strong country.”  334,000 manufacturing jobs have been created over the last two years.  In the third quarter of 2011, manufacturing profits were up more than 7 percent compared to the first quarter.

ITA is committed to keeping this momentum going in a variety of ways including helping U.S. manufacturers reach new markets.

  • Only 1 percent of U.S. businesses export. Of those that do, 58 percent export to only one market. There is potential for U.S. manufacturers to do so much more.
  • With efforts like the New Market Exporter Initiative, ITA is working with private sector partners — like the National Association of Manufacturers— to provide U.S. businesses with the support they need to reach new markets and new customers.

U.S. Import Shipping News: From Data Providers Datamyne, Panjiva and PIERS

From Datamyne: Looking for Cool. Top product searches of import data focus on refrigerants. The most frequent product search of Datamyne’s US import data in December was for R134a (a.k.a. hydrofluorocarbon-134A, or HFC-134a, or 1,1,1,2–tetrafluoroethane), a refrigerant used in most car air conditioning units … until now.  In 2006, the European Union set 2011 as the deadline for phasing out R134A in new model cars. All new cars must use an alternative by 2017. This is because R134a’s global warming potential (GWP) is 1430 (1430 times the heat-trapping power of the same amount of carbon dioxide). The EU’s new limit is <150 GWP.

One potential replacement, endorsed by SAE International, the global association of technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries, is HFO-1234yf (or 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene), which  has a GWP of 4. Chemicals companies are jockeying for position in what could be the auto AC refrigerant of global choice. Interestingly, another alternative – R152a – was among Datamyne’s top 10 product searches in September, October and November (when it was number 1).

From Panjiva, courtesy of Libby Fortier, Version 2.0 Communications: December Trade Data: Seasonal Declines After The Holidays. Trade activity experienced a noticeable seasonal decline from November to December. Specifically, the number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 7% month-over-month decrease from November to December. November-to-December changes have varied widely in recent years: -14% in 2010, +3% in 2009, -8% in 2008, and -3% in 2007.  The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. dipped 4% from November to December. November-to-December changes in previous years: -9% in 2010, +3% in 2009, -5% in 2008, and -1% in 2007.

From PIERS:  U.S. Containerized Imports Grow 5% in November. U.S. containerized import volume rose 5% Y-o-Y in November, a sharp turnaround in the slumping market that was pushed by strong gains in shipments tied to the recovering housing industry, reported Mario O. Moreno, economist for PIERS/The Journal of Commerce.

Increases in home sales have buoyed the housing market, leading to a 7% November growth in shipments of furniture, a top import commodity.

“A healthy housing market is key to the revival of U.S. containerized imports growth as many of the goods consumers purchase to furnish a home are imported,” Moreno said. He pointed to additional expansion in November in cooking and heat appliances, lamps and parts, and kitchenware. Growth in these other commodities contributed to the increase in imports from China—up 4.1% Y-o-Y, the country’s first rise in eight months. Demand for local lumber was a key factor in a surprising November increase of 515% in imports from Canada.

“The question is, are we seeing a self-sustained recovery in home sales?” Moreno said. “This will depend very much on how many jobs the economy can generate every month… Over the last 12 months through November, the economy generated an average of 132,000 jobs per month (NSA). We are not there yet, but getting closer.”