Services: Performance of the Future

Services have outperformed the economic leverage of manufacturing. The growth not only changes the structure and composition of economic activities in both the United States and the world but also leads to a more integrated future. Both legislators and negotiators must pay more attention to the service components of international exchanges if they are to achieve long-term change.

Worldwide, services contributed more than 60 percent of total value added in most major economies in 2017. China and India were the exceptions. For world trade, the value of services exports grew 5.1 percent per year between 2006 and 2016 with a rising tendency. 

U.S. services now account for over two-thirds of GDP. The U.S. companies achieved more than $2.2 trillion in recorded international services sales In trade, services deliver a large surplus. Four out of five new private-sector jobs in the U.S. are created by services. In 2015, the Peterson Institute estimated that the elimination of global barriers to trade in services would increase the U.S. service exports by $300 billion and create 3 million jobs when fully implemented.

There is more to services than meets the eye. Services come in different categories and at different, often opaque international levels. Examples are varied performances in fields such as telecommunications, financial services, computer services, retail distribution, environmental services, education and express delivery.

Manufacturing strength increasingly comes from strong and tailor-made services which enable manufacturing to be more effective and competitive. Current cars are service driven and updated with sophisticated navigation systems. TVs have to connect to streams in order to be smart. iPhone sales rely on Apple’s support services, including troubleshooting and retailing. Even a traditional aerospace exporter like Boeing uses cloud services to manage inventory, optimize maintenance, and minimize the costs of system malfunctions.

Service performance at high has typically been greatly underestimated due to insufficient measurement insight. For example, if a person travels abroad for medical tourism, such value generating activity is hardly recorded. A local session of advice with a financial expert may create high value. However, poor valuation and insufficient recordation lead to only little understanding of current account impact.

Services and manufacturing are not at opposite ends of a scale. Rather, services strengthen the performance of manufacturing and are enhanced by the application of technology. Through its investment in the services sector, China has greatly improved the capabilities of its logistics, transport and infrastructure conditions. China can now demonstrably use its newly generated logistics expertise to outperform its competitors. For example, due to its service investments, the transport time of persons and goods via the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge has diminished from 4 hours to 30 minutes since the end of 2018. What a time wharp, yielding clear insights into shifting capabilities. Many will be the companies and countries which sign up to exchange raw materials for infrastructure. 

The integration between services and manufacturing will relegate entire supply chain conditions, which have been laboriously created, to a mere blur. Today, most apparel manufacturers own retail stores. Many store brands like Target build up their own manufacturing, controls, and retail distribution. Apple manufactures its own chips, fingerprint sensors, and other custom components. Concurrently, its retail stores flourish and allow it to control its direct distribution and sale to customers.

Services growth promotes new types of manufacturing. Printing technology gives new meaning to scale economies. Services, combined with flexibility and adjustment bring opportunity and vitality to the global economy. In terms of innovation and employment, strong services are no less important for a country than a strong manufacturing sector. U.S. legislators and negotiators must place growing emphasis on services and their links, both direct and indirect, with manufacturing. A more integrated economy will provide all with a significant payoff.

Professor Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international marketing and trade at Georgetown University and the University of Kent in Canterbury. His latest book is ‘In Search for the Soul of International Business’ 2019, Businessexpertpress.com

Package from China: Who pays the freight?

Michael R. Czinkota


Running a small business which ships low weight merchandise, say 10 T-shirts or small hardware from China to the United States, made logistics cost easy. The U.S. provided for a large shipping discount of 40% to 70%.


Such generosity came from U.S. membership in the Universal Postal Union (UPU). Founded in 1874, the UPU is the international postal organization in Switzerland, committed to a smoothly running international postal system.

In 1969, the UPU’s developed country members implemented discounts for poor nations when shipping small parcels. China then was isolated with few outward shipments. In consequence, consumers in Washington, the shipping cost of a face cream was more affordable from China than from Los Angeles. Today, however, China delivers more than one billion small packages a year to the U.S. and the special discount treatment continued.

Then there came change. The Trump administration announced U.S. withdrawal from the UPU as of October 17, 2018. The objective was to arrive at competitive and fair global shipping rates. This move showed the Trump Administration’s willingness to leave quit multilateral agreements judged unfavorable to U.S. interests. Although the UPU withdrawal process takes one year, U.S. deep discounts for Chinese packages ended immediately.
Now China Post has introduced a new Express Mail Service. It raised the price of packages to the U.S. from $ 30 to $34 for the first 0.5kilogram shipped. Who pays, who benefits?
The United States Postal Service (USPS) can use higher payments from China. But transshipments through other nations and competition will lead to reduced shipping volume.

The price advantage of many Chinese e-commerce vendors declines. Higher cost of shipping reduces this advantage even further. Most endangered are eBay type international vendors. Sellers who compete on price alone face higher cost and more competition. To survive it will become new practice to find alternatives for product and service delivery both for processes as well as markets.

Adjusting the rules for new conditions makes sense. Few parameters conditions have remained static for 144 years. The UPU should get ready for a significant restructuring. What applies to China, the U.S., and other relationships, applies to other nations as well. One should expect further exploration of antiquated subsidies which have been bypassed by new market conditions. Such tracking can identify new opportunities for change and innovation.

De-subsidization will create market alternatives based on new forms of delivery. Such adjustments will be cost analyzed and competitively compared to achieve higher efficiency. Legislators and internationally active framers of distance trade, such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization can use this opportunity to pinpoint, develop and scale up models which reflect transport cost sensitive sectors and practices. In addition to greater accuracy and fairness, the President’s initiative for higher prices can lead to higher capabilities, more efficiencies and better services. A good start!

Professor Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University and the University of Kent. His latest book is ‘In Search For The Soul Of International Business (Businessexpertpress.com) 2018

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.