The TPP: International Law and Geopolitics

After seven years of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP) has finally been agreed upon by the twelve signatories. The parties involved are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. There has been significant controversy regarding the TPP from within the United States, with naysayers arguing that the benefits accruing from the TPP are minimal, and that the US already has bilateral trade agreements with most (if not all) the participating countries, making the bulky agreement redundant. Yet there do exist considerable advantages for the US from the conclusion of the TPP negotiations. To name but a few, the TPP has ensured the updating of the frameworks applied to multilateral trade agreements. It also allows for the harmonization and regulation of standards across a global and dispersed supply chain.

A significant worry has been the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), key buzzwords thrown about by the American and international media. The inclusion of the ISDS in the TPP has been regarded by some, most notably Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts as a threat to regulatory sovereignty. It allows for corporations to sue governments for changes in the regulatory environment that have adverse impacts upon the former. The legal provision, however, does not allow the reverse, i.e. governments cannot take legal action against firms. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the ISDS is a major development for international law precedent, which has typically been restricted to matters of interstate disputation.

The glaring exclusion of China from the agreement has been highly debated in the intellectual circles of Washington. Some have argued that the nation chose to stay aloof – that the Chinese economy has outgrown the “meager” benefits that could accrue to it from the TPP that pale in comparison to the restrictions and conditions that China would have to meet if it joined. Optimists hope that the coalition of participating countries will be able to contain, offset and challenge China’s rapid relative economic ascent. They suggest that the success of the TPP will lead to a clamor by countries like China and India to be included, the conditions of which would be set by the triumphant and advantaged existing members. Whatever the future of China in relation to the TPP may be, its current exclusion clearly limits its geopolitical reach.

 

Michael R. Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international business and marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. His key books is International Marketing, 10th edition.

Highlights of APEC 2015

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a forum of 21 Pacific Rim member countries that promotes free trade in the region. They are linked by their boundary with the Pacific Ocean. As such, India which has asked to join has not been allowed to do so.

Established in 1989, its aim is to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific economies. The member countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, United States, and Vietnam. The total GDP of all the APEC countries is $44 trillion as of 2014. US and China account for over 60% of the total, more than all the other members combined.

Apec GDP

APEC ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders. Members facilitate this trade through faster customs procedures at borders; more favorable business climates behind the border; and aligning regulations and standards across the region. APEC operates as a cooperative, multilateral economic and trade forum. Member economies participate on the basis of open dialogue and respect for views of all participants.

The theme of this year’s APEC Summit held in the Philippines is “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.”

Some of the highlights from the summit include the following commitments:

  1. To support comprehensive and ambitious structural reforms; achieve positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes; and promote good governance. We recognize that corruption impedes economic sustainability and development and agree to combat the harmful effects of the illegal economy and to promote cultures of integrity across borders, markets, and supply chains.
  1. To foster an enabling trading environment that is responsive to new ways in which goods and services are produced and delivered and that promotes inclusiveness, especially for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. We need to develop policies that take full advantage of global value chains (GVC) and encourage greater participation and added value. We will promote competition, entrepreneurship, and innovation through effective and comprehensive measures, including balanced intellectual property (IP) systems and capacity-building.
  1. To build sustainable and disaster-resilient economies. We welcome and adopt the APEC Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework to facilitate collective work in building adaptive and disaster-resilient economies supporting inclusive and sustainable development in the face of the “new normal.”
  1. To make urbanization work for growth. We remain committed to a new type of urbanization featuring green, energy-efficient, low-carbon, and people-oriented development.
  1. To redouble our efforts to empower our people with the tools to benefit from and participate in economic growth. In the current environment characterized by the rapid and ubiquitous use of technology, our people, in particular women and youth, need to be equipped not only with technical skills in science, technology, and innovation but must also be adaptable and resilient.

Occurring shortly after the Paris attacks, the summit also made a statement about terrorism and its impact to the global economy.

“We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies. Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization. We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism. “

Read the full 2015 APEC declaration here: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/132206/full-text-2015-apec-economic-leaders-declaration-in-manila

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Considering Labor Costs in Foreign Expansion

by Guest Blogger Nick Rojas

Ever since the National Science Foundation ended its sponsorship of the “NSFNET Backbone Service” on April 30, 1995 any remaining restrictions on using the Internet for commercial purposes were lifted. This resulted in a revolution for many industries, especially those focused on information and communication.
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All of a sudden, you did not have to go to the local library to look up information on subjects you were researching. You also no longer had to contact newspapers and magazines to issue job postings.

What was happening on a local level would soon cross international borders and connect entire workforces, industries, and populations. Outsourcing labor and expanding export and import infrastructures soon became a trending topic for an increasingly connected, global society of the 21st century.

Why Outsource?

The U.S. and large parts of Europe underwent massive economic growth in the second half of the 20th century. With all the growth, however, came the increase in local labor and energy costs.

This was one of the main reasons why many Western corporations began to invest into production facilities in foreign markets, where labor costs were comparatively low and where they could give local economies a boost.

Made in China

One of the nation’s becoming most popular during this era was China, which made a name for itself by offering high productivity at low wages – as low as 100$ a month for non-skilled labor in Chinese factories. The “Made in China” label, to this day, is synonymous with cheap manufacturing labor, as opposed to, for example, the equally famous “Made in Germany” (representing high quality engineering).

Even though China is a Communist country, it was able to build a capitalist economy integrated into the World market. This, however, combined with the increased exposure to Western standards and philosophies among the Chinese population – due to the Internet – has in recent years led to many demonstrations and a generally more pressing uprising of the Chinese labor force against corporations and the government, echoing what Europe went through during its Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

So while China is still a cheap manufacturing market, investments into the nation’s cheap labor force are becoming increasingly risky considering the latest political developments, which are only now gaining momentum and will continue to raise awareness as the rest of the world learns more about the situation.

India – a Valuable Tech AllyNick2

If China is known for cheap manufacturing labor and Germany for first class engineering, then India is the nation that offers the highest density in talented software developers and other computer-based services.

There are two main reasons for this, the first one being that not only colleges, but Indian companies also invest into technology-related education of young adults. Secondly, since India’s industrial infrastructure is still catching up to Western standards, the chances of landing a job in the mechanical, electrical, or chemical fields are low. In addition to that, many American and European companies are increasingly outsourcing software-related labor to the Indian market, so this trend is not going to change anytime soon.

While China is struggling with an increasingly difficult political situation, an interesting synergy is starting to develop between Western and Indian people. The latest generation of entrepreneurs of companies like Facebook, Uber, and WhatsApp consists largely of Millennials, the first generation that grew up with access to the Internet.

Their exposure to global information and cultures has turned them into a tolerant, curious, and cosmopolitan generation. For Millennials, globalization is not a new development, but status quo.

As a result, they don’t see their Indian counterparts as just another source for cheap labor, but as potential partners who share the same passion and interest – technology. So while wages in India are still much lower – an experienced programmer in the U.S. makes up to $200 an hour, whereas Indian developers charge closer to $20-30 an hour – this growing “partnership” between generations and nations will have an impact on Indian labor costs, especially in the area of software development.

Other Markets

China and India have certainly become very popular for their outsource-friendly workforce, but South America and Africa are going to be interesting to watch over the next few decades as the United States is making significant investments into their local infrastructure, renewable energy, and banking system.

Conclusion

It might seem like commercial Internet has been around forever, but it has really only been around for two decades. Considering the massive impact on the global marketplace it has already had, it is clear that we will see dynamics shifting between foreign markets over the course of the next century, and labor costs will be one of the most important factors to watch.

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Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas,. or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.

The Internet of things in Vietnam

Vietnam is currently one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies. But that has not always been the case. When it unified in 1975, it struggled to find its feet. But when elements of market forces and enterprise were introduced and the stock exchange was opened, the country began to find its feet. Since then, foreign investment has grown. The United States is now one of Vietnam’s main trading partners.

More recently, the popularity of the Internet has brought about many changes. Vietnam’s Internet penetration is one of the highest in Southeast Asia at 44% of the country’s 90 million population. Much of the growth is attributed to smartphones, which are used by more than a third of the population. With very affordable mobile data rates at just $3 a gigabyte, Vietnam has now joined the Internet bandwagon. The impact is huge. Active social media accounts rose 41% this year. Vietnam’s active Facebook users are now at 30 million, an increase of 8.5 million since 2012. It is the most popular site being used by 21% of the population according to a survey conducted by We Are Social. Google+ has 13% and Twitter 8%.

There had been initial attempts to limit Internet freedom by the government. A few years ago, Vietnam’s government launched its own social media site to compete with Facebook. Dubbed Go.vn, it required users to use their real names and register with their government-issued numbers. Not many “friended” the government. Vietnam also used to block Facebook but Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has decided to hit the “like” button saying that it can help small businesses to find new customers. Since then, several cabinet members have created their own pages and state-run broadcasters have begun uploading videos on Youtube. Despite a growing list of regulations, the government’s more open attitude towards the Internet has been quite effective. Online sales by business to consumers in Vietnam totaled an estimated $2.2 billion in 2013. They are estimated to reach $4 billion in 2015.

E-commerce and online trade have especially benefitted from the government’s efforts to promote Internet usage. Shopping websites such as Lazada and Sendo are mushrooming. Thegioididong, a leading IT retailer posted sales of $47.6 million in the first half of 2014. That was a growth of 300 percent. A recent survey by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s E-commerce and Information Technology Department found that 58 percent of the Internet population shop online and spend an average of $145.

With the Internet boom and a growing middle class, there are a lot of business opportunities especially for foreign companies. Big global players such as Alibaba and Amazon have begun to build their presence in the country. Internet companies that want to expand to Asia should definitely not overlook Vietnam.

 

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Birmingham Insights on Asia – (3) International Strategic Alliance Performance (High Technology Industry in Taiwan)

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This comment is based on Jo-Chun Chieh’s Dissertation written under the supervision of Prof. Michael Czinkota at the University of Birmingham, UK.

The study investigated the perspective of Taiwanese managers, thereby examining the impact of national and organizational culture differences and International Strategic Alliance (ISA) practices on ISA performance. Four findings can be concluded as follows.

1, National culture differences partly influence ISA performance, especially in the uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation dimensions. This finding corresponds to one of the cultural functions proposed by Schneider (1989). He states that culture serves two functions, to solve external adaptation and internal integration problems. Uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation especially impact on external adaptation. In other words, Taiwanese managers in the high-technology industry emphasize and are good t coping with opportunities and threats from the external environment, as well as being good at developing ISA strategies with foreign alliance partners. on the other hand, power distance, individualism and masculinity influence employee relationships within an organization.

2, Organizational culture differences also partly influence ISA performance, especially in professional and pragmatic (market -oriented) dimensions. Kasper (2001) associates corporate culture and market orientation, claiming that “market oriented organizations are open, employee-oriented, results-oriented, pragmatic, professional…”. This finding reflects that Taiwanese managers in the high-technology industry emphasize the importance of building objectives and obtaining new knowledge when cooperating with ISA foreign partners. Kasper (2001) also associates innovation, stating that customer contacts and customer participation in the R&D procedure are the basis of innovation. This notion implies that Taiwanese managers have high consciousness about global competition and pay attention on balancing innovation and market orientation.

Stay tuned for two more conclusions on our next Birmingham Insights on Asia.