Young Tigers Speak Out on Trade

This Fall, I am teaching a Georgetown University Seminar on International Trade – The Insiders, populated by our First Year Students. The insiders we talk with and about are politicians, Policy Analysts, lobbyists, Ambassadors, former cabinet members, and many other highly interesting people who have a lot to share with the students.

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During the lectures, we always try to expand our understanding, knowledge and dialogue about key trade issues. Recently, we discussed the “Blood Diamonds”, which are said to make life difficult as well as bring pleasure to those who own it. However, they should be rejected by recipients, since the money obtained from diamond trade may be used for revolutions, exploitations, and other types of harm to mankind.

Since money is fungible, it occurs to me that it is only a matter of time for us to find other goods to be “facilitators of evil”. Of course, the main question is: what products or services will be the Next Nefarious “Blood Products” around the world?

Here are the top 16 issues which, after substantial thought and discussion, emerged from the minds of the young tigers who are participating on the seminar:

  • Gasoline: Oil wars continue to increase;
  • Palm oil: Palm trees are being cut down at an alarming rate, causing negative effects on the environment;
  • Actions and transactions over the internet: Blockchain technology may mislead;
  • Computer parts: Scattered rebel groups will use technology in their favor;
  • Advanced technology use: Putting in danger human rights and leveraging child labor;
  • Coffee: Coffee makers exploit land, labor, and economic systems;
  • Smartphones: We are more and more dependent on technology;
  • Pharmacology: Aggregated demand will increase market share and profit margins unacceptably;
  • Dairy: Veganism has already grown by 500% in the U.S.;
  • FIFA World Cup: Migrant workers with long shifts may lead to dissatisfied processes;
  • Robots/Artificial Intelligence: They will eventually do everything better than humans;
  • Cryptocurrencies vs current currencies: Easier for criminals and terrorists to conduct exchanges;
  • Oil: Impending energy shortage by 2030 will lead to the usage of oil as a new form of currency;
  • Biofuels (fuel-producing algae): Fossil fuels are highly valuable but their reserves are in decline;
  • Antiquities and artifacts: Terrorist groups like the Islamic State begin to claim physical property and presence for themselves;
  • Endangered species: Harming the natural world and exploiting species.

I always say that is wise to listen to these young minds, they will be in command soon. And according to them, these are the issues of the day. Remember, forewarned is forearmed.

Coffee Culture

Millions of people around the world are paying premiums for branded coffee such as Starbucks, catapulting coffee from a commodity to one with brand attached to it. The coffee culture is widespread, ranging from the USA to countries with great coffee traditions of their own – such as Italy, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries – as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

Today, coffee is one of the most valuable primary products in world trade. It is crucial to the economies and politics of many developing countries. Exports of coffee account for a substantial part of these countries’ foreign exchange earnings, in some cases more than 80 per cent. Its cultivation, processing, trading, transportation, and marketing provide employment for millions of people worldwide. Coffee is a traded commodity on major futures and commodity exchanges, most importantly in the London and New York stock exchanges.

Many social aspects of coffee can be seen in the modern-day lifestyle. The USA is the largest market for coffee, while the Nordic countries consume the largest quantity of coffee per capita. “Coffeehouses” or “cafés” are restaurants commonly seen in the Americas, the Middle East, Europe and Asia that sell mainly coffee drinks. In some countries, notably in northern Europe, coffee parties are a popular form of entertaining. Besides coffee, the host or hostess at the coffee party also serves cakes and pastries.

Coffee plays a large role in much of history and literature because of the large effects the coffee industry has had on cultures where it is produced or consumed. Coffee is often mentioned as one of the main economic goods used in imperial control of trade. It also typifies the economic progress of a nation. In the case of Asia, the coffee culture has taken center stage since the 1990s and, as economic growth starts to pick up in the twenty-first century, cafés are widely seen in many of the bigger cities in Asia. The Starbucks Index as constructed by the Economist also shows that Asian consumers are willing to pay for the enjoyment of a cup of coffee within a café in order to “experience” the ambience.


Where did coffee originate?

Answer in the comment section below. The answer will be revealed at next week’s “Jeopardy!”

Answer to last week’s “Jeopardy!”: Which of the world’s cities has the largest population? According to the World Almanac, Bombay’s population stands at 15.1 million, followed by Shanghai at 13.6 million, Beijing at 11.3 million, Seoul at 10.2 million, and São Paulo at 10 million.