Offsets: One answer to International Trade Imbalances

Offsets: One answer to International Trade Imbalances

Michael R. Czinkota

When foreign governments shop for defense supplies, they are not solely motivated by price and quality. In light of the trade balance effects of major acquisitions such as aircraft or defense products, international customers often require U.S. vendors to purchase goods from them in order to “offset” the trade balance effects large purchases have on their trade flows. In light of enormous U.S. trade deficits, it is time for the United States to reciprocate with offset demands of our trading partners. Frequently we find ourselves in conditions where foreign sales to us are major and our sales to importers and their nations are minor. This leads to trade relations which are out of kilter.  U.S. firms have accommodated foreign offset demands for decades. Now is the time when some give-back by our trading partners is the right medicine to improve world trade imbalances.

Offsets are industrial compensation arrangements demanded (so far only) by foreign governments as a condition for making major purchases, such as military hardware. Sometimes, these arrangements are directly related to the goods being traded. For instance, the Spanish air force’s planes – American-made McDonnell Douglass F/A-18 Hornets – use rudders, fuselage components, and speed brakes made by Spanish companies. U.S. sellers of the planes have provided the relevant technology information so that Spanish firms are now successful new producers in the industry. Under offset conditions, U.S. companies also often help export a client country’s goods go international, or even support the performance of tourism services. For example, the ‘Cleopatra Scheme’ allowed foreign suppliers to Egypt to meet their agreed upon offset obligations through package tours for international tourists.

In 2015, U.S. firms entered into 38 new offset agreements where they agreed to cause purchases  with 15 countries valued at $3.1 billion. In 2017, the total U.S. trade deficit was $566 billion after it imported $2.895 trillion of goods and services while exporting $2.329 trillion. No country has a bigger trade surplus with the United States than China. In 2017, the U.S. deficit with China climbed to its highest level on record, amounting to a gap of $375 billion.

Eliminating imbalances is a core component of the Trump administration’s international economic policy. One policy approach has been the threat of tariffs against China,.  One effective supplemental strategy could be the instigation of offset agreements with major trade surplus nations.

For instance, many American imports that contribute to the trade deficit are capital goods, such as computers and telecom equipment. An offset agreement between China and the United States could require China to use American-made components, perhaps even from Chinese owned plants.  An example could be the export of Smithfield ham from the U.S. to be served in company cafeterias in China. Then there are excellent opportunities for Chinese tourists, particularly if equipped with high-spend budgets.

The American trade deficit is not easily resolved. Government would be well served to explore non-traditional options in order to develop more than one fulcrum for leverage. New use of  offset agreements – which have provided our trading partners with past success at our expense – could help revitalize American industries and  bring a new sense of balance to trade relationships. Our government should encourage offset commitments by foreign firms and countries who sell a lot to us. America deserves to reap the benefits!

Michael Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent, U.K. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th ed., CENGAGE). Lisa Burgoa contributed to this commentary.

Trade and Tariffs: Prof. Czinkota’s TV Interview

Prof. Czinkota’s latest TV interview with Gray TV about Tariffs and Trade.
Check it out at the following link here!
 
– The Admin

Georgetown First Year Seminar – Final Presentation

With help of a course specific editorial board, each student in FYS write a draft editorial during the semester, and made it a final public editorial and delivered a 4-minute presentation on the November 29th session of the course. During the session, students showed their innovation and great presentation skills. The editorial board members gave their insightful opinions and suggestions on the topics. Professor Czinkota also prepared a sweet Certificate of Appreciation to all the editorial board members for their generous contribution to the course.

unnamed2Students in FYS develop an editorial which tackles an institutional trade issue relevant to them. These editorials can take any form of dissemination ranging from print instruments, social media, or Youtube films. The work can include an assessment of government and taxpayer expenditure on a trade related measures. Or it can represent the impact of government actions on corporate trade conditions. The first editorial draft is handed in for comment by and discussion with the instructor and the editorial team on Oct. 11. Subsequently, after discussion, the goal is to produce one cohesive, brief and insightful commentary which is postable or publishable for mail-out. Each student collaborated with the editorial board, the coaches and professor.

Editorial Board Members: Thank you very much for taking time sharing your unique insights and experience to the students. Your advice has greatly inspired them to take a deeper view in the subject matter and beyond. Your kind talk would always be remembered by the students.

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Thank you again for the 5 amazing editorialists: (from left to right)

Molly Fleenor
Assistant Director of Communications
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

Joana Godinho
Guest Producer
CGTN/CCTV News

Nicolette Hurd
Consultant
The McCormick Group

Jennifer Boettcher
Business Information Consultant
Georgetown University

Glenn Morel
CEO & Founder
AVID Productions

 

Georgetown First Year Seminar Guest Speaker

We were visited by Mr. Barry Rhoads, Chairman of Cassidy and Associates. He presented his insights on the role of private sector influence on government, establishing and disrupting relationships and the achievement of thought for legislation.

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Mr. Rhoads arrived in Washington as an officer in the U.S. Army, became a tax prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the head of one of the largest lobbying firms in Washington D.C where he represents interests both foreign and domestic, such as Airbus Industries.

The times, in Europe, they are a-changin’

From The Hill

afd_germany_1The German elections are over, and for a brief moment, it looks like all is stable. But make no mistake, this is only the eye of the storm. Germany has already shifted away from the current leadership.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that she has done nothing wrong. While that is true, there are many things she hasn’t done right. Society and its problematics around the world have moved on, circumventing traditional politics and politicians.

From a long-term analytical business perspective, politics requires a new direction. The parties in power may elegantly gloss over losing 10 percentage points in voter support. They talk about how the voters have made a mistake; how all it takes are better explanations and how all these inequities will be rectified shortly. How wrong they are!

Perceptions change. Research by Mintel reports that many consumers now judge soap bars to be a haven for bacteria. Similarly, voters now judge political insiders to be parasites to progress. Our work, which systematically tracks business behavior and expectations over the past 30 years, indicates new core values for voters.

Traditional dimensions of politics and individuals have four key dimensions, illustrated by the four legs of a stool. First is competition, which determines the approach to progress — one party achieves “the winner takes all,” others meekly fall in line for the droppings from the table.

Second is the establishment and management of risk, where steely nerves and occasional disasters determine lifestyle. Then comes profit, which accounts for success in tangible form. Finally, the fourth leg of the stool is property rights, which assure innovators of their return on investments. There now is a simultaneous splintering of all four legs, which inhibits successful conduct of direction.

A new stool with new legs has recently emerged, these changes are crucial in understanding society. First is truthfulness. Firms and voters detest fake news, insincere excuses and thoughtless comments. When the shadows of unreality obscure one’s outlook, exposed people extract a penalty.

Second is simplicity. Employees and citizens want to understand how relationships work and interact. Without that, it is hard to provide or accept truthfulness. Then there is participation, permitting insight beyond simple observation and offering an active role in shaping the conditions which confront one’s life.

The fourth leg is responsibility — going far beyond customary short memories and the traditional pleading of ignorance. The new drive says: “We are here and, if not, we are coming.”

Just as in America, European voters are beginning to be energized by the new legs of the stool and their new criteria. They expect new directions that negate tradition. Judging by shifts in Britain and Spain, stability in Germany may not be that assured.

It’s also not just the money or even economic growth that matter most. Known quantity may give way to even more quality and a rise of local criteria. “Merkelism” will be substituted for Mercantilism. German economic power may be repulsed by regions seeking to regain their cultural self-determination.

The U.S. emphasis on re-shoring, and the enhancing and encouraging of local production is likely a portent of the new Europe, which perhaps reduces Germany from the “King of Exports” to a mere prince. More export-supporting banks will permeate Europe, accompanied by increases in protectionism.

There are still many options for tariff and non-tariff barriers. Within, but particularly outside of the EU, one can expect growing restrictions in both capital and labor flows and a rise of sanctions. Vested interests will become more visible, and provide new decision frameworks.

All that requires a new team. Low-profile politicians will inexorably move onto the new pedestal. Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU/CSIS) are two who get it. Bob Dylan may have written the song half a century ago, but now more than eve,r we get key guidance from, “The times, they are a-changing.” The change is with us already — the new stool will give us new rules of success and new directors.

Michael Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book is “International Marketing” 10th ed. (with Ilkka Ronkainen), CENGAGE.