St. Valentine’s Day – More than dates and roses

St.Valentine’s Day – more than dates and roses

Michael R. Czinkota

For centuries St. Valentine has been the patron of love and lovers, providing individuals with the nudge to move a relationship forward. International shipments of red roses have enriched the economies of Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya by hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the time to revisit Valentine’s Day as to its meaning and make plans to restructure its impact.

Valentine’s Day has already undergone significant expansion. Its celebration has grown from a small parish to half of the globe. It has become, in some of the wealthier countries, an important gift giving occasion. Gifts have become differentiated by gender. Men consistently give more than women, perhaps because they wish for a foundation, while many women see decoration. The typical gifts are jewelry, roses or dinner. As reported by the National Retail Federation of America, more than $ 810 million worth of Valentine’s Day gifts are given to pets.

The timing of Valentine’s Day has expanded as well. In Korea and Japan, romantic gifts are given on March 14, one month later than in the USA. The product pallet has become more diverse: for example in Denmark, instead of roses, one exchanges pressed white flowers. In the Philippines, on February 14 small events are increasingly supplanted by large ceremonies and mass weddings. Italians, instead of smelling the roses, listen to the reading of poetry and eat chocolate hazelnut kisses also known as baci. In South Africa the name of a beloved one is written on one’s shirt sleeves.

Some governments consider the Day as unreligious and ban its celebration. By contrast, increasingly, on Valentine’s Day one does not just recognize the one you love, but also family and friends. The Pope in Rome has been known to carry flowers with him on that special day.

In sum, Valentine’s Day has taken on a wider mission, diversified its outreach, introduced more flexibility in terms of timing, product, message, and interaction with more people. Most importantly, it has propagated quite successfully the message of interaction, proximity, hugs and love.

As next step should encourage this expansion and integrate it more with our lives as business people, policy makers or consumers. Here are some suggestions how Valentine’s Day as a widening construct can serve to incorporate present day realities and future days outlook. To nudge things along, recommendations are included  for appropriate commemorative gifts.  

For President Trump: A cake with many candles but little sugar for providing many occasions of hope, change and new perspectives.

For Kim Jong-un of North Korea : a candle signifying the love of your people and in appreciation  for not blowing up  nuclear devices;

For the U.S. Congress: A “like” card for constituents to send to their own representative; to be accompanied by a ‘’you can do better’’ card for the rest of the institution;

For the global trade community: A “tough love” card which allocates specific responsibilities for rules and tasks to be changed, accompanied by jovial if not hearty messages indicating that “we understand”;

For Prime Minister May: some non-tear tissues – to dry the eyes – we won’t  break away;

For people both domestic and foreign who were struck by natural disasters or poverty: a red envelope with a check inside;

For tax payers:  no plastic but a paper bag; their reductions are more than just crumbs;

For corporations:  a colorful map showing new investment opportunities with large benefits;

To the Twitter company: some tightly packed characters showing concern;

For media: some loosely sourced but highly emotional news stories showing respect;

To the world at large: the form of messages and hugs represent how different cultures take different approaches to love; to get there, a relationship has to come first; joint efforts will help.

To my own small world: humongous love to wife Ilona and daughter Margaret; your gift; anything you want.

TO ALL:   Happy St.Valentine’s Day!

*Michael R. Czinkota 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 edition, CENGAGE)

Global Business: Trade, Broken Down

In business, trade is a big word. Not in the sense of how you spell it, but rather how we use it, as there are many compartments to trading with different countries. From exports, to labor, to production and prices, trade isn’t just the exchanging of goods. Lets break it down and use the example of clothing.

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New World, New Policy

The changing composition of U.S. trade 
international_trade_2We have often heated discussions on trade policy shifts. To make reasonable arguments, we must consider that the fundamental composition of trade has been changing. For example, from the 1960s to 1990s, the trade role of primary commodities has declined precipitously while in parallel, the importance of manufactured goods has increased. This has meant that those countries and workers who had specialized in commodities such as rubber or mining typically fell behind those that had embarked on strengthening their manufacturing sector. With sharply declining world market prices for commodities and rising prices for manufactured goods, commodity producers were increasingly unable to keep pace. Some commodity-dependent countries realized temporary windfalls as prices of oil, wheat, and corn rose dramatically, only to watch them evaporate as prices dropped in 2009.

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The Ukraine-EU Association Agreement

The rejection of the European Union association agreement by the Ukrainian president came as a surprise to many. The announcement was met with a huge wave of protests throughout the country, which have now turned into a broader outcry against government corruption and police violence. Even though the free trade agreement, which Ukraine has been working towards for many years, would have had some major associated costs, the long-term payoffs could have been huge – it would have provided support to unlock Ukraine’s immense potential, offered the possibility of EU integration, opened up the borders to commerce, eased travel restrictions, etc. However, the Ukrainian President, Mr. Yanukovich, claims that the EU wasn’t offering enough cash to offset the damage to trade with Russia, and slammed the IMF’s economic-overhaul conditions, such as raising the gas price for households, as unbearable for Ukrainians.

Moscow had strongly opposed the Ukraine – EU trade deal and even offered a lavish $20 billion bailout package to keep the former Soviet republic in Moscow’s orbit. This deal, much bigger than that offered by the West, gives Ukraine loans, enough to meet $9 billion in debt obligations for 2014, and cheaper gas supplies, which is favorable to Ukraine’s factories that are reliant on Russian gas. Nonetheless, this deal does not address the concerns of Ukrainian citizens, who want to live in a European country.

The US had also shown its concern with the revolution and the actions of the Ukrainian government by imposing visa sanctions against officials. The “Euromaidan” revolution itself has affected the economic expectations for 2014 in a way that there are no planned foreign direct investments being made into Ukraine in the short-run, and the inflation rate is supposed to increase to 5%, leading to a possible financial crisis. Since the purchasing power of people may decrease, Ukrainian businesses may suffer significant losses.

How could the European Union or the US assist Ukraine in its political revolution?

This text was written and presented by Mr. Vladyslav Kondratiuk, Student at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University in the course on International Business (STRT-261-01) on January 29, 2014. You can contact the author here.

Global Trade Barriers

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative’s National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers published annually classifies barriers into ten categories:

  1. Import policies that include tariffs and other import charges as well as customs barriers
  2. Standards, testing, labeling and certification, which includes refusal to accept U.S. manufacturer’s self-certification that they conform to a country’s product standards
  3. Government procurement, including “buy domestic” and closed bidding processes
  4. Export subsidies including export financing on preferential terms and agricultural export subsidies that displace U.S. exports in third world markets
  5. Service barriers such as limits on the range of financial services that can be offered by outside financial institutions
  6. Lack of intellectual property protection– endangering patents, copyrights or trademarks
  7. Investment barriers, including limits on global equity participation, access to outside government-funded research and development programs, and restrictions on transferring earnings and capital
  8. Anti-competitive practices with trade effects tolerated by other governments, including anti-competitive activities of both state-owned and private firms
  9. Trade restrictions affecting e-commerce including discriminatory taxation
  10. Other barriers, such as those that might encompass more than one category–bribery and corruption– or that affect a single sector

Each year the report outlines the specific barriers in each of the largest export markets in the U.S., breaking them out according to 57 countries and several regions including the European Union and the Southern Africa Customs Union. It is essential reading for global marketers looking to expand into one of these nations or regions.



This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 17-18.

Click HERE to acquire the full book.