Posts Tagged ‘exports’


lunching with the brazilian ambassador

Monday 23 May, 2011

Had lunch with Mauro Vieira, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States & other members of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs @ BRAZIL AND THE UNITED STATES: BILATERAL PARTNERSHIP AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES where he shed some light on Brazil’s perspective on inter-American relations.  Pres. Barack Obama stressed on his recent trip to Brazil, the country’s rise to 7th largest GDP ($2.1TR) in the world with 7.5% growth, & recognized that our partnership has become deep & intense.   The U.S. is Brazil’s #2 trading partner with $58B of $383B in international trade.  Brazil received $10B of it’s $48B in foreign direct investment (fdi) from the U.S., while Brazil has a total stock of $16B of fdi in the U.S., $3.9B of which came last year.  Exports to Brazil support 250K jobs in the U.S., while exports to the U.S. support 120K jobs in Brazil.  Brazil grew so much the last 15 years as a result of the imposition of social justice, which created 14B jobs & raised wages 42%.  24M were lifted out of poverty as 30M joined the middle class as GDP/per capita rose 80%.   The 2008 financial crisis was a turning point which caused the emergence of closer involvement of the emerging markets.  Obama supports an expansion of the UN  Security Council (I assume to include Brazil), & Brazil is now producing oil, of which Obama wants the U.S. to become 1 of Brazil’s best customers.  Brazil & the U.S. have come to many agreements on trade & economic cooperation, aviation-open skies, & cooperation on education & innovation.   They signed a peaceful use of outer space agreement which will allow the U.S. to launch space ships from northern Brazil.  Dilma Roussef wants more Brazilian students studying the hard sciences in the U.S. while Barack promised to increase the number of Latin American students to 100K in the U.S.  Earlier that day a US-Midwest Brazil Business group was launched.


  • The middle class has grown to become 53% of Brazil’s population.
  • Lula & Turkey built confidence with those who weren’t talking to Iran.  Dilma stands ready to contribute in the future.
  • Brazil has lots of legislation, programs, & multilateral fora to fight violence, police excess, & human rights violations.  They favor general overview actions rather than specifics in fighting these problems.
  • Trade is important (exports=25% of GDP) to Brazil.  China is their #1 trading partner.  Bureaucracy & corruption are not impediments to foreign trade, as there is no pattern to discern in either.  They want better regulations & legislative control.
  • Hillary Clinton was interested in the bilateral agreement against racism 3-4 years ago, which it is assumed will be discussed @ an upcoming meeting in Minas Gerais in June.
  • Brazil thrived during the financial crisis because the government took quick action on stimulative VAT consumption taxes, which were reduced to 0 for popular cars & home appliances.  The President went on T.V. & said “Continue to work & spend.”  The government also built houses.

China’s President Hu Jintao’s visit to Chicago

Friday 28 January, 2011

I, along with 1200 of my best friends, attended the U.S.-CHINA TRADE AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION FORUM in Chicago, which was organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs & China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Machinery & Electronic Products (CCCME), sponsored by Caterpillar, ITW, Underwriters Laboratories, supported by Grainger, & Harley-Davidson, & co-organized by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, World Business Chicago, Chicago Sister Cities International China Committee, Chicago-China Economic Development Center, Midwest US-China Association.  Is everyone jumping on the China bandwagon?-it looks like it.  I wonder how much each paid for their promotion?  I was told the Chinese brought a delegation of 400, but I was misinformed:  they only brought 393;  see here. They sure do throw lots of people @ everything they do.

Rather than try to summarize all that was presented this day, I’ll simply make a comment about each speaker’s presentation where appropriate, & include links to their organizations, which should make a much better use of space here.

Opening remarks

  • David Speer, CEO ITW, welcome
  • Wang Chao, Vice Minister of Commerce, People’s Republic of China (PRC), more @ lunch
  • IL governor Pat Quinn, “hi”
  • Gary Locke, US Secretary of Commerce, China has invested $12B in the U.S., which has created 10K jobs:  China is America’s #3 export market, which were up 34% in 2010 over 2009 & support 245K jobs,  after Canada & Mexico.
  • Leocadia Zak, US Trade & Development Agency supported $3B in IL as a driver of export-led growth
  • Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce (PRC) signed contracts worth $25B, excluding Boeing plane orders & invested $3.2B in the US.  China is #3 in trade with $380B which will increase to $500B by 2015.  $100B of exports from the US to China will increase to $200B by then.  China’s trade balance with the US is $181B, but $183B with the rest of the world, so that needs to be rebalanced.
  • US-China contracts signing ceremony

Panel discussions

Panel 1-next 10 years of China-US business relationship

  • Tang Dengjie, Shanghai Vice-Mayor has population of 20M with GDP/ per capita of $13K & 500 MNC headquarters, 1/3 of which are from the US.  Services are a focal point with a goal of $100B in 2010.
  • Robert Holden, Chair-Midwest US-China Association: “howdy”
  • Michael Moskow, Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs China needs to develop a consumer credit culture that lends to more than just state-owned enterprises

panel 2-bilateral investment & economic development

  • Cheng Lixin, VP, ZTE is a partner of 59 of the top 100 telecom carriers, has been invested $300M in the US in 12 years with 8 offices, 5 R&D centers, 400 employees, 82% of which are American, & 5M subscribers, & signed commitments worth $10M
  • Richard Lavin, Group President-Caterpillar has 11 plants & R&D centers in China
  • William Spence, Chicago Sister Cities China Committee Chair “Hey…”

panel 3-clean energy & green economy

  • Liu Xiaoming, Deputy Chief Economist, China National Offshore Oil Corp.was the 1st in China with liquefied natural gas
  • Frederick Palmer, Senior VP-Government Relations, Peabody Energy signed an agreement for carbon capture plants with “green coal” near Tianjen
  • Chris Gangemi, Senior VP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary-Underwriters Laboratories

panel 4-SME cooperation

  • Yu Ping, VP China Council for the promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) processes 140K inquiries & signed an Memorandum of Understanding with the US Foreign Commercial Service to help Chinese companies invest in the US
  • Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion & Director General of US & Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) -US Dept of Commerce-International Trade Administration.  The FCS has 100 employees in China working on 5 missions to 14 cities.  They’ve helped 5600 companies, 85% of which have been SME’s.  He is also on the global councils of the  Thunderbird School of Global Management. In 2004 Mr. Kumar was named Distinguished Executive-in-Residence by Thunderbird School of Global Management for his contributions to global trade.
  • Jerry Roper, President-Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Luncheon speakers

  • Yao Wenping, VP CCCME, “say what?…”
  • Wang Chao, Vice Minister of Commerce PRC-China & the US are 2nd largest trading partners with each other.  China has moved up from the #9 importer to #3 importer in the last 6 years.  The US has invested $65B in China while the Chinese have invested $4.7B in the US.

Materials distributed @ the event


m2’s take on the national export initiative

Friday 19 March, 2010

When I listened & watched President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address, I was shocked & psyched when he set a goal of doubling America’s exports in the next 5 years. My question was, “How does he think he’ll go about achieving it?”  Apparently it’s taken 6 weeks to put together a plan, called the National Export Initiative.  Here are the announcements:

Here’s my take the NEI:

Obviously as a devoted internationalist & service provider who helps American firms grow globally, I think this is great.  It’s been a long time since a President has made exports such a high priority.  I think it’s appropriate.  Elevating this effort to “cabinet level” (obviously State, Commerce, & Agriculture departments already are) raises the level of awareness, which is sorely needed.  My impression has been that previous administrations have simply let the $ fall & assumed that cheaper prices would sell more American products & services.  That’s not our advantage.  As an international business writer, I have to pick at the finer points to evaluate the likelihood of success.  My concerns:

  • trade finance-the Export Import Bank stepped up during the financial meltdown & adding $2B in funding certainly helps.   I interviewed the midwest regional director of ExIm , & the response to that indicated that access to capital is not the problem, rather timeliness is the issue.  In addition to adding capital, I hope they add the human resources to enable ExIm to work expeditiously to provide its financing in the time frames businesses need to compete with foreign competitors whose processes work much faster.  You can’t just throw money at the problem & expect it to work.
  • advocacy-40 trade & reverse trade missions are a good start, but the real test is what results that come out of those trade missions.  The real work comes beforehand & afterwards, when prospects are qualified & followed up upon.  Some can be very successful, but government-organized trade missions have low levels of accountability.  The focus is as much on the signing opportunity for the dignitaries as it is for finding qualified prospects for American companies.  Governments simply aren’t very good at marketing.  The Travel Promotion Act & adding Senior Business Liaisons @ embassies & consulates don’t cut it.
  • assistance-beefing up resources at offices domestically & abroad can only help. I constantly hear how underfunded the Department of Commerce is.  It sounds good, but given our financial situation & so many projects competing for money, I wonder how they can find the funds to pay for this.
  • free/fair access-We need to tear down trade barriers to get reciprocal access.  Our markets are open, so we should expect the same openness from our partners, but many of these barriers are not explicit, so overcoming them is not obvious.  You can’t argue against protecting intellectual property.  The rest of the world should value theirs as much as we treasure ours, but the fact is they don’t.  Lowering export controls should increase our opportunities.  Many have criticized Obama for sounding socialistic by encouraging enforcement of labor & environmental provisions.  The question for all of this is “At what cost?”  We can stomp our feet up & down & scream “Bloody murder!,” but we can’t enforce foreign laws in other countries.  We can pick up our toys & go home, but that’s not productive for us either.  I endorse it, but I don’t know how we can back it up.

The international business person in me wants this to be a huge success, but my experience leads me to expect much less.  A lot of this reeks of more of the same, just bigger & better, (which can have its advantages).  American companies need a significant change in business culture to bring about a change in long-term orientation.  We need to make changes at much deeper levels to have the kind of impact Obama wants.  We need to start learning foreign languages & world history, economics, & politics at much earlier ages.  We need to stop thinking the opportunity in the state next door is “better” than the opportunity on the next continent.  We must stop being scared of the unknowns & plunge right in.  We can no longer think of America as God’s chosen country.  It is not.  Flat-world companies from the rest of the globe are taking advantage of us.  We need to pursue them as aggressively as they pursue us.


what’s new from IL Dir of Trade & Investment

Monday 21 September, 2009

I attended this event WHAT IS THE STATE OFFICE OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT DOING TO ENCOURAGE AND HELP ILLINOIS BUSINESSES SUCCESSFULLY COMPETE IN TODAY’S INTERNATIONAL MARKETPLACE? hosted by Business Network Chicago.  Mary Roberts was recently named interim director of the Office of Trade & Investment office of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.  She has certainly been making the rounds, as we have crossed paths on a number of occasions lately.

Here’s her presentation ILIntlPresentation & here’s what she had to say:

  • The state of IL has 10 foreign trade offices, the services of which are all available to IL firms for free  There are 6 International Trade Centers to work with businesses in the state.
  • Why should foreign firms open offices in IL?
  • The cost/ft2 for office space is comparatively cheap when compared to the world’s big cities.  Taxes are relatively cheap too, & incentives are available.
  • IL exported $54B in 2008 & was the 6th rank state for exports.  Exports comprise 8.4% of GDP of the state & are responsible for 540K jobs.
  • 1523 foreign companies work out of 5312 locations & employ 275K in Illinois.
  • Chicago is still a logistics hub.  It’s the only place on the continent where all 6 major railroads intersect.  IL has 1118 miles of waterways.  It’s the #1 container hub.
  • In addition Mary shared what she’s learned about international business in her time on the job, i.e., in the U.S., the contract is the focal point of a business relationship.  In the rest of the world, it’s just the last step/consummation  in the process.
  • Gov. Pat Quinn’s goal is to become the #1 green state.


  • to take advantage of international opportunities, give Mary your card & she’ll put your contact information in her database.
  • the state of IL collaborates with the US Dept of Commerce & foreign consulates, depending on the resources available by each.

My take-Illinois does well, but there are other states which have been much more consistent with their international representation.  Gov. Jim Thompson had 12 international offices.  Jim Edgar cut them down to less than a handful.  George Ryan started beefing them up.  Rod Blagojovich continued the trend, & Pat Quinn seems to want to continue it.  But if I’m an Illinois or foreign business person considering working with state of Illinois representatives, I’m not sure how long they’re going to be around.  That’s a big no-no.  Commitment is a big part of the equation.


Romanian trade delegation

Tuesday 25 March, 2008

Gheorghe Gruia, Consul for economic affairs @ the Consulate General of Romania in Chicago, hosted a trade delegation in from Romania for the housewares trade show @ McCormick Place. Gheorghe made a presentation @ a breakfast reception: Romania has a population of 21.7 million people with 2.5 million in Bucharest. GDP has grown 4-8% the last few years in Romania & has received 31 billion Euros of foreign direct investment from the Netherlands, Germany, US, & Italy. Inflation has shrunk from 47% to 5% & unemployment has more than halved from 12% to 5%. Romania should be part of the Euro-zone by 2012. Illinois exported $25.5million of product/services to Romania in 2006. Romania has the lowest tax rates in the area & all sectors have been privatized & are available for investment. Economic advantages include a fast growing economy, low tax rates, & low inflation. Romania offers human resources, technology, IT, & engineering resources. Location is also an advantage with close proximity to the CIS & Middle East.

Here are the companies which paid a visit:

Acormed-environmental protection, water administration

Aquarius Exim-imports yarns, exports fabrics

Astra-security vaults

CIAC-building, construction

Cozia Forest-wood processing

Elpidex-wood garden furniture, log houses

Hobby House-forwarders & movers

Lumetal-recyclable scrap recovery

Prodin-natural fiber textile producer

Sigstrat-moulded plywood processing


banking on Israeli IT

Thursday 20 March, 2008

The Israeli Economic Mission to the Midwest hosted an event last week entitled “Banking on Israel IT” sponsored by Grant Thornton, The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, AeA, America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Bird Foundation, Illinois Dept of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, & Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Michael Strauss of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank made the Keynote presentation on an economic assessment of the US economy which is attached:  strauss israel presentation  It didn’t contain any interesting new international information, so there’s not much I can add.

Mark Schittig, Director of the Division of Risk Management @ the Fed in Chicago, made a presentation on Regulation & IT solution management but since much of the focus was on security, I guess they didn’t want to give hackers any fodder for thought.

Israel Tenenbaum, Director of the ICT Dept of the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute made a short presentation which essentially introduced the visiting Israeli firms  tenenbaum ieici presentation Although it’s somewhat repetitive, here’s some additional information on the visiting companies  israeli IT co. details  He pretty much just read through the presentation, so there’s not much for me to add to what he presented.

Illinois exported electrical & non-electrical machinery & transportation equipment & other things worth over $148 million in 2005, down 4.68% from 2004. Other products exported to Israel include optic, photo, medical surgical instruments, organic chemicals, precious stones, plastics, non-railway vehicles, pharmaceuticals, articles of iron or steel, & aircraft.  About 200 Illinois companies have subsidiaries in Israel, such as American National Can Co.,  A.Epstein & Sons International, Motorola, Bi-Logic Systems, & Sara Lee.

Israel lists 100 NASDAQ companies & exports $3.6 billion worth of software.   It appeared as if Grant Thornton had arranged all the meetings for the visiting firms & held them in their offices.