What’s Your Business Story?

International Trade Examiner (ITE) invites its readers to become active participants in the content that appears on the blog. You will be able to offer your own perspective on issues relating to international trade. (ITE does not pay for guest blog posts.)

GuestBloggers1

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As an invited expert, you will benefit by:

1. Sharing the platform with other experts,

2. Having your work reach ITE’s followers via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and e-mail combined, and

3. Engaging the community in issues pertaining to international trade.

Instructions for Guest Bloggers:

Word count: 250-600 words

Submission guidelines:

  • Microsoft Word document with the blog post
  • A brief bio of no more than 4 sentences
  • Photo/image (optional – must be the original photo or image created by the author and relates to the story)
  • E-mail your guest blog post to tradeexaminer@gmail.com

All work must be the original ideas and research of the author. Any work or image that has been copied directly from another source without permission will not be accepted.

All articles must be relevant to the blog and well written. A piece that is well-written is one that:

  • Raises an interesting question
  • Explains why the question and information provided are important (i.e., passes the So what? question)
  • Presents sound evidence
  • Includes your own analysis of the data provided
  • Draws a clear conclusion based on the evidence presented
  • Written for either an academic, policymaking or business audience

Any piece that does not relate to international trade, consists of numerous spelling/grammatical errors, fails to provide facts to support an argument and includes disrespectful and foul language will not be considered for publication.

Related Topics (not limited to these topics):

  • How your business has been impacted by international trade
  •  Fair trade versus free trade
  • World Trade Organization
  • International trade’s impact on workers
  • Opportunities and challenges of free trade for consumers
  • Free trade agreements

If your piece is accepted, we will inform you via e-mail along with the expected publication date. (Note: Guest posts in which business owners discuss how they have been affected by international trade will also appear in the Global Research Institute of International Trade’s newsletter – www.griit.org.)

Thank you for your interest in contributing to ITE. I look forward to collaborating with you. You can contact me at tradeexaminer@gmail.com with any questions and/or concerns.

Sarita Jackson, Founder

Note: You can read and bookmark these guidelines. Click here to save the link for guest bloggers.

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Freight Forwarding plus Online Innovation Equals a Win/Win Outcome

By Salman Mirzaei

Port of Los Angeles

Port of Los Angeles

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.” – Albert Einstein[1]

Fast growing digital technology can help many industries such as freight forwarding and logistics. However, a Silicon Valley initiative to create internet-based forwarding for overseas shipping is causing concern within the freight forwarding industry. Freight forwarders fear that the increased dependence on online processes might lead to competition with a competitor who does not have a substantial amount of experience and expertise.

For example, Kuehne + Nagel Chairman Karl Gernandt said in an April 2015 interview with Journal of Commerce, “This kind of innovation is bringing competition from people that maybe don’t have an expertise in forwarding but who understand digitized processes and might grab business from us.”

The day has come that technology is surpassing human interaction. Nowadays, technology is taking part almost in every aspect of our life from legal issues,[2] to banking, online shopping and virtual education. International trade, particularly in the area of freight forwarding, is not an exception.

There are online platforms for placing air freight orders, which decrease the time spent for obtaining quotes, placing bookings and tracking shipments such as KN Freightnet, which was developed by logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel. According to Gernandt, KN Freightnet reduces administrative procedures from a period of days to five minutes, thus saving shippers a considerable amount of time. “You can imagine how much efficiency gains could be harvested if you started to concentrate more on this process. The more efficient we can make that, the more efficient it will be for our shipper customers,” said Gernandt in the same Journal of Commerce interview.

To sum up, in the age of speed, there is no way for a company to survive if it does not upgrade its technology and go online. In the words of investor Warren Buffett, we have to “fight off the ABCs of business decay, which are arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency.” Time consuming bureaucratic procedures in international trade will only result in a company not being able to compete.

Online innovation should not be viewed as a threat. Rather, online innovation should be seen as an opportunity for cooperation between freight forwarders and new technology that can only lead to a win/win outcome.

 

Salman Mirzaei is currently a student in the International Trade and Commerce & Import/Export program at UCLA Extension. He received his M.A. in international law from Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch.

 

[1] Albert Einstein is credited with saying this quote, although some question whether Einstein actually made this statement. Either way, the saying resonates with the trends that we are seeing today, as discussed in this piece.

[2] There are a lot of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) websites that deal with different legal issues.

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Small Market, Big Opportunities

Since President Obama’s announcement in December about efforts to improve U.S. relations with Cuba, a number of large U.S. companies are already going into the Cuban market to provide services. Which companies are providing services in Cuba? What can U.S. companies currently trade with Cuba.

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In February, the internet movie and television streaming service Netflix announced that it began providing services in Cuba. Just last week, the online home-rental service Airbnb announced that U.S. travelers could start booking lodging in Cuba. Credit card provider MasterCard is also offering services in Cuba. As the Cuban market gradually opens up to U.S. businesses, some challenges and risks still exist. (See ‘Tripping Over Wires’: The Risks of Doing Business in Cuba and What You Should Know About Doing Business in Cuba for more on the opportunities and challenges.)

Nevertheless, Cuba is a small market that presents big opportunities for exporters, even though the U.S. embargo is still in place. U.S. companies are allowed to export the following goods and services to Cuba:

  • Medicine and medical supplies;
  • Food;
  • Agricultural equipment;
  • Building material and tools for private sector use; and
  • Telecommunication services, devices and equipment (click here to review additional policy changes regarding US-Cuba business relations).

Cuba presents an opportunity for U.S. businesses, large and small. However, as with any other market, it is important to take into account the realities of doing business in Cuba.

Sources of information: Office of Foreign Assets ControlUS Department of Commerce

 RECENT NEWS: US and Cuba Hold Highest Level Meeting in Over 50 Years

Check out my other related blog posts documenting US-Cuba trade relations and policy reforms over the last three years:

 

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Where are the women-owned businesses in the global market?

This month, National Women’s History Month, we recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women as well as discuss issues that affect women such as pay equity. In October 2014, I enjoyed participating in an awards gala celebrating the on-going achievements of women in international trade. So, what role have women played in the international marketplace?

 

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Here are a few fun facts to answer this question. (Note: This information is based on the most recent data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the White House.)

  • There are about 7.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States.
  • Women-owned businesses account for 28 percent of total U.S. businesses.
  • Twelve percent (12%) of exporting businesses are women-owned.

Another interesting fact worth mentioning: The person serving as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce is a woman–Penny Pritzker.

Organizations, agencies and resources that emphasize international trade and support women in this field:

This is not an exhaustive list. If you know of other associations, organizations, etc. that will be of benefit to women looking to take their business to the global market,  please add their name and website in the comments section.

 
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What is Africa’s Role in the International Trade Dispute Process?

A number of countries throughout Africa have experienced economic growth and thus, have become competitive players in the international market. The success of a number of African economies has been documented by institutions over the last five years such as McKinsey and Company and the Center for Global Development. While African countries have experienced economic growth, their role in protecting their interests in the global economy and shaping fair trade through the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement process remains quite small.

As African economies rise in the global context, two important questions remain: 1) How engaged are African countries in the WTO dispute settlement process? and 2) What can be done to ensure that these emerging markets also emerge as strong players in terms of ensuring fairness in the international trade system?

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The WTO dispute settlement process allows a country to bring a case against another WTO member that it finds is in violation of international trade rules. For example, this month, the United States filed a case against China for its alleged use of illegal export subsidies. In another case, Brazil filed a complaint against the United States for its cotton subsidies, which was finally resolved in October 2014 after a decade long dispute. The United States agreed to pay $300 million to Brazilian cotton farmers.

Government subsidies distort international trade and thus, are illegal. A number of studies have shown how many African countries have been negatively impacted by U.S. cotton subsidies (see my earlier post on subsidies and their impact on African countries). Nevertheless, not a single African country has brought a case to the WTO against these types of unfair trade practices. Rather, many of these same countries have joined cases brought by a larger developed or developing country. In other words, African countries mainly serve as third parties to international trade dispute cases (see the Appendix for the table highlighting the types of dispute cases that African countries are involved in).  To restrict the harmful effects of unfair trade practices, it is important for these growing African economies to understand and take part in the dispute settlement process.

Unfortunately, a number of challenges make it difficult for many of the countries to become more involved such as the lack of expertise and limited financial resources.

While financial resources will certainly help, technical assistance and training are also necessary to develop the capacity within any given African country to successfully challenge unfair trade practices on its own.

International Trade Examiner is the official blog for the Global Research Institute of International Trade

  For tips on the dispute settlement process and your business, subscribe to  GRIIT’s monthly newsletter 

For updates on Dr. Jackson’s upcoming university panel discussion on US-Africa trade, subscribe to GRIIT’s March newsletter 

For Dr. Jackson’s research on small state bargaining power within the WTO and her policy prescription for strengthening the WTO dispute settlement process for small states, click here.

Appendix:

African Countries and International Trade Dispute Cases

Country
Dispute Cases: Complainant, Respondent and Case
BeninBrazil case against U.S. cotton subsidies (resolved October 2014)
CameroonEcuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the European Community (EC) banana regime (resolved November 2012)
ChadBrazil case against U.S. cotton subsidies (resolved October 2014)
Côte d’Ivoire1) Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the EC banana regime (resolved November 2012)

2) Australia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)
Ghana Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the EC banana regime (resolved November 2012)
Kenya Australia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)
Madagascar 1) Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the EC banana regime (resolved November 2012)

2) Australia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)
Mauritius1) Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the EC banana regime (resolved November 2012)

2) U.S. case against Mexico for dumping high fructose corn syrup (concluded November 2001)

2) India case against EC over the latter's conditions for granting tariff preferences to developing countries (concluded July 2005)

3) Australia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)

NamibiaNorway case against EC Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products (concluded June 2014)
Nigeria
1) India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand case against the U.S. prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products (concluded November 2001)

2) Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia cases against Australia Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging (panel composed May 2014)
Senegal1) Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, U.S. case against the EC banana regime (resolved November 2012)

2) India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand case against the U.S. prohibition of certain shrimp and shrimp products (concluded November 2001)
South Africa 1) Canada, Brazil cases against U.S. corn and other agricultural subsidies and export guarantees for agriculture (agreement to create a panel but panel members not chosen since December 2007)

2) Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia cases against Australia Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging (panel composed May 2014)

3) EU case against Brazil's taxation measures (agreement to create a panel but members not yet selected as of December 2014)

4) EU case against Russia's import measures for pork, live pigs and pig products (panel composed October 2014)
Swaziland Australia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)
TanzaniaAustralia, Brazil and Thailand cases against EC export subsidies on sugar (concluded May 2005)
ZambiaUkraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia cases against Australia Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging (panel composed May 2014)
Zimbabwe1) Canada case against EC measures on asbestos and products containing asbestos (concluded April 2001)

2) Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Indonesia cases against Australia Certain Measures Concerning Trademarks and Other Plain Packaging Requirements Applicable to Tobacco Products and Packaging (panel composed May 2014)

*Note: The European Community (EC) refers to the various European international-level organizations that are incorporated under the present-day European Union (EU).

Source: World Trade Organization

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