Archive for May, 2011

Easing business travel in the world’s fastest growing economies: APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Legislation introduced in House of Representatives


May 26, 2011 The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes  the introduction of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) Act in the House of Representatives and urges its passage as soon as is practicable.  We applaud representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Dan Lundgren (R-CA), for their continued sponsorship of the ABTC. 




The Asia-Pacific encompasses the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing region.  Its markets are critical to maintainingU.S.competiveness and achieving President Obama’s National Export Initiative goals, and ease of travel is important to businesses wishing to engage in those markets.  Read more.



May 31, 2011 at 8:47 am

Ex-Im Bank: $2.4 billion to small exporters

The U.S. Export-Import Bank has conducted more than 1,700 small business transactions totaling more than $2.4 billion so far this fiscal year.
   “Our economic recovery is dependent in large part on the success of our small businesses,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg, in a statement. “Our efforts to encourage more companies to export are paying off, and I am optimistic that we can reach the president’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014.”  Read more.

American Shipper, 5/25/2011

May 27, 2011 at 7:00 am

U.S., EU expand IRISL sanction list

The United States and European Union this week expanded a list of companies that have engaged in business with Iranian shipping companies,
   U.S. Treasury Department sanctions have been in place since September 2008 against the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and affiliated companies. The U.S. government alleges IRISL and its complex tangle of affiliates has facilitated the transportation of illegal weapons shipments to Iran.
   The United States added Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and six other smaller oil and shipping companies for engaging in trade with Iran, Reuters reported. One of the companies sanctioned is the Ofer Brothers Group, the Israeli conglomerate that runs Israel Corp., parent company of the container line Zim.  Read more.

American Shipper, 5/25/2011

May 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

U.S., Canada renew cargo pre-clearance effort


   U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its Canadian counterpart are seeking to establish a cargo pre-clearance program that would allow admissibility decisions to be made before rail and truck shipments reach the border, Commissioner Alan Bersin told a Senate panel last Tuesday.
   Asked about delays for commercial motor carriers along the northern border, Bersin said CBP and the Canadian Border Services Agency hope to implement a pilot program for advance cargo release in the near future.
   “The notion is to move our processes into the foreign country so we can avoid lengthening the lines at the arrival port of entry,” Bersin told a reporter following testimony before the Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, refugees and border security.
   Upcoming meetings between Bersin and CBSA President Luc Portelance are scheduled in Washington and Ottawa during which specifics of a pre-inspection program are to be worked out.  Read more.

E. Kulisch, American Shipper, 5/23/2011

May 25, 2011 at 7:00 am

Urban Green Energy Targets China to Expand Wind Turbine Sales

In late 2006, Nick Blitterswyk, an actuary for JPMorgan Chase in New York, felt unfulfilled calculating the risks on clients’ pension plans. After a year of existential angst, he launched Urban Green Energy along with his wife and her mother to manufacture small wind turbines to power homes and businesses. “It sounds so cliché, but … I wanted to do something that meant something. Something to try to help the world dig out of the environmental quagmire we’re in,” he says.

Blitterswyk, who grew up exploring old-growth forests with his park warden parents on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, chose a tough market. His 125-employee New York company is battling more than 200 manufacturers worldwide that build modern-day windmills for customers looking for cleaner, cheaper alternatives to diesel-powered generators in areas off the grid. In 2009 the global market for small wind turbines, defined as those that produce 100 kilowatts or less of electricity, increased 10 percent yet accounted for less than 1 percent of the total amount of wind-generated electricity, according to the latest report from the American Wind Energy Assn., an industry trade group. Nevertheless, UGE, which launched its first product a year ago, expects to be profitable this year with $12 million in sales, up fivefold from $2.4 million in 2010, says Blitterswyk. Next year, he expects revenue to reach $30 million.

While the majority of sales last year came from the U.S. and Europe, UGE is banking on emerging economies — particularly China — for future growth. Developing countries added more wind power capacity in 2010 than traditional markets, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. China surpassed the U.S. last year in total amount of wind-generated electricity and is expected to increase output fivefold by 2020, the council says. Emerging markets are turning to wind power to diversify their energy sources and reduce imports of expensive fossil fuels.  Read more.

A. Gonsalves, Bloomberg, May 6, 2011

May 24, 2011 at 7:00 am

Developing countries look to clouds

For many developing countries, traditional information technology development for customs modernization is cost prohibitive. But the emergence of cloud computing, or the ability to use third-party servers to store and disseminate customs information, may bring some of them quickly up to industrialized nation standards.
   “It delivers significant benefits and opportunities in emerging markets,” said Nick Small, a director with Crown Agents at the World Customs Organization’s IT Conference and Exhibition in Seattle.
   It’s estimated that cloud computing could save customs administrations as much as 90 percent in IT development costs and speed to market.  Read more.

C. Gillis, American Shippper, 5/12/2011

May 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

States Use Tax Breaks in War for Jobs

New Jersey is granting Panasonic (PC) a $102.4 million tax credit to move its North American headquarters—nine miles. The incentives, announced on Apr. 20, will help defray the cost of leasing a new high-rise office tower to be built in Newark to replace Panasonic’s digs in Secaucus, which the Japanese electronics maker has outgrown.

The company concedes that its decision to stay in New Jersey, where it employs 800 workers, was swayed by the tax break. Peter Fannon, vice-president of technology policy at Panasonic North America, says the company fielded “quite competitive” offers from Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, N.Y., among others. Says Fannon: “We would not be in New Jersey without [this program].” Officials in the town of Secaucus don’t see it as a win for their state, though. “We shouldn’t be using tax dollars to play one municipality off of another,” says town administrator David Drumeler.

State and local governments eager to recover some of the more than 8 million jobs lost during the recession are giving away $70 billion in annual subsidies to companies, according to calculations by Kenneth Thomas, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. States have long relied on fiscal incentives to lure businesses, or keep existing employers from decamping to other locales. Such largesse is coming under renewed scrutiny during this time of strapped budgets. State deficits could reach a combined $112 billion in the fiscal year starting July 1. “The tragic irony of it is that in order to pay for these things, they’re cutting other areas that really are the building blocks of jobs and economic growth,” says Jon Shure, director of state fiscal strategies for the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  Read more.

M. Niquette, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 4, 2011

May 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

In France, Tupperware Finds a Market


Before Ouahiba Hamanache helped a friend host a Tupperware party five years ago, she never thought much about a brand long associated with stacking bowls and tumblers. But with a product line that increasingly emphasized high-quality cookware over storage, the mother of two figured there was money to be made in plastic. Hamanache, now 34, soon quit her job as a public school teacher in the eastern French city of Nancy to sell Tupperware full-time. Now a regional manager of 480 sellers, or “culinary advisers,” Hamanache says her team held 7,000 parties last year, each of which averaged about €510, or $757, in sales. Her top seller: a $147 Microvapor that steams foods in a microwave.

When Tupperware Brands (TUP) posted record first-quarter profit of $56 million on $636 million in sales, few were surprised that emerging markets made up 57 percent of the Orlando-based company’s revenue. Like Amway, Avon (AVP), and many other direct sellers, Tupperware is popular in fast-growing countries that sometimes lack adequate retail infrastructure or income opportunities for women. What’s raising eyebrows is the brand’s strength in otherwise sluggish economies like France, where sales grew 17 percent last quarter.

The Gallic resurgence owes much to Tupperware’s worldwide efforts to revamp a musty brand. Its homemaker-helper image hadn’t changed much since Earl Tupper first came out with polyethylene containers with airtight seals in 1946. Over the past five years, however, the company has attracted younger consumers globally with more sophisticated products like a $550 set of knives, “girls’ night out” parties, and what Chief Executive Officer Rick Goings calls a focus on sellers as “dynamic entrepreneurs instead of housewives seeking pin money.” In France, he adds, they put posters on park benches showing women who “almost looked like punk rockers using Tupperware.”  Read more.

D. Brady, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 5, 2011

May 17, 2011 at 7:00 am

China’s Test Prep Juggernaut

On a Sunday afternoon in March, Morgan Meng, a broad-shouldered, mustachioed high school senior from Jinan in eastern China, wanders through an exhibit hall in Beijing, browsing tables stacked with brochures showing leafy campuses and smiling, multi-ethnic faces. Elsewhere at the “Colleges that Change Lives” fair, hundreds of Chinese parents and students overflow conference rooms where admissions representatives from the likes of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., are promising small classes, mild winters, and Asian cuisine. For hundreds of American institutions, from obscure colleges to prominent universities, Chinese students, who typically pay full international tuition, have become highly desirable.

Meng has been admitted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he plans to major in history. He’s one of tens of thousands of Chinese undergraduates expected to attend stateside schools next year. Prosperous Chinese families see an American education as a sign of status that can help their children find jobs once they return home. In conversation, Meng responds to questions about his readiness for studying in America by saying, “Let me think.” Then he waits for an interpreter to explain in Chinese. “I have the concern about English,” he says haltingly. “I may read the textbook smoothly. I can’t always catch up with the professor. Their speaking speed may be faster. There may be some”—he turns to the interpreter, who suggests the word “slang”—”that it is difficult to communicate with classmates.”

Still, the language barrier didn’t stop him from scoring 680 out of 800 in writing and 590 out of 800 in critical reading on the SAT, which is given in English, in addition to 770 on the math portion. Like thousands of other students in China, Meng learned to game the test, earning a score that belies how modest his language skills actually are. By taking an intensive two-month, six-days-a-week course offered by New Oriental Education & Technology Group—sponsor of the college fair—he raised his overall score on the SAT from 1670 to 2040 out of 2400, making him an attractive candidate for a whole new league of American colleges. His score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which measures proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and is one of two tests international students may take to demonstrate their grasp of English, soared from 65 to 90 out of 120. Many universities, including Illinois, require a minimum TOEFL score of 79.  Read more.

D. Golden, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 5, 2011

May 16, 2011 at 7:00 am

Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Leaving the U.S.

In a speech last week to Facebook employees, President Obama discussed the role immigrant entrepreneurs play in U.S. economic competitiveness. “We want more Andy Groves here in the United States,” he told the crowd, touching on the Hungarian-born entrepreneur’s startup success. “We don’t want them starting Intel in China or starting it in France.”

Sadly, our President didn’t back his words with action. He simply said he would support “comprehensive immigration reform,” which is legislation that has no chance of passing. This is because it tries to fix all the problems with immigration at the same time. Most Americans will support legislation to admit more doctors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, but they are deeply divided on the issue of amnesty for illegal immigrants. So we’re in a messy stalemate.

Our leaders don’t seem to understand the urgency of the situation. They fail to recognize how much the world has changed. Entrepreneurs see abundant opportunities in places like India and China now. The world’s best and brightest can stay home and achieve as much success as they could in the U.S. Skilled workers who immigrated to the U.S. are optimistic about these opportunities; many are headed back home.  Read more.

V. Wadhwa, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 27, 2011

May 13, 2011 at 7:00 am

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