Overcoming barriers to int’l trade

BY KELVIN TAN for Business Times

Tariffs and duties are among the most important factors dictating the ability of companies in Asia to increase their exports, and underscore the importance of easing trade access within the region and beyond. For companies looking to import or export goods, understanding custom and excise requirements can be challenging as different countries and economic blocs have vastly different rules.

In Asia, ambiguities remain despite the efforts of member governments to reduce or alleviate tariffs when trading with one another. For example, while developed states like Hong Kong and Singapore impose import duties on a limited number of goods, developing nations like Cambodia and Myanmar impose import duties on hundreds of goods and the rates and list of goods are subject to constant changes. These differences can cause much confusion and can deter businesses from trading with a particular market.

In a bid to boost and facilitate international trade, governments and economic blocs turn to free trade agreements (FTAs) with the aim of increasing export and import volumes.

Doing Business in UAE

source: http://www.executiveplanet.com

Tip 1 Remember that,despite its Western feel,the UAE remains an Islamic country and that great respect should be paid to Islamic tradition,beliefs and sensitivities.

Tip 2 More than 80% of the population of the region are non-Emirati and you are just as likely to be doing business with an American or an Australian as you are with a local.

Tip 3 The Emirates consists of seven,separate states which are all slightly different in feel and approach. If you are doing business outside the main centres of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, make sure you do some additional research.

Tip 4 Do not be surprised if local companies are very family–oriented and influenced. Nepotism is a way of life and is actively encouraged. You could find several family members in the same meeting.

Tip 5 Company structures will reflect this family-orientation through a strong sense of hierarchy. Try to find out the hierarchy of your counterpart – and look into who the real decision-makers are.

Tip 6 As throughout the Arab world, age is worthy of respect and honourable visitors will display respect to older people. Is it therefore a good idea to have a few older heads in your delegation?

Tip 7 Do not assume that any expatriate you deal with who works for a local company will be the final decision-maker. It is highly likely that the expatriate (whatever their job title) will need to report to a local senior official for final authority on any issue.

Tip 8 Management style is directional and employees expect managers to lead in a fairly authoritative manner. This can mean that instructions are given in a very direct, even abrupt way.

Tip 9 When in meetings,avoid pointing the soles of your shoes at your counterparties as this could be seen as rude. It is also best to pass any documents, refreshments etc. with your right hand.

Tip 10 Same gender tactility is very common – although public tactility across the genders is very rare and frowned upon.

The rise of the mega-city will change the global economy forever

 By  for Daily Telegraph

The trend is set to continue, posing huge challenges in some areas but creating vast opportunities for those willing and able to seize them.

It is not just that we are now much more likely to live in cities – more and more of us live in extremely large urban conurbations. At the start of the 19th century, just one city had a population that was greater than 1m – Beijing. Today, there are more than 450, accounting for 22.7pc of the world’s total population.

The rise of the mega-city, defined as areas of continuous urban development, is even more striking: 40 years ago, just Tokyo and New York fell into that category, joined by Mexico City in 1975. Today, 29 mega-cities boast 10m or more people, accounting for 7.2pc of humanity. The largest, at 37.6m, is Tokyo, followed by Jakarta (30m), Dehli (24.1m), Seoul (23m) and Manila (22.7m). Some of the mega-cities are shockingly little-known in the West, at least among the general public, including Guangzhou-Foshan (which counts 18.3m inhabitants) or Nagoya (10.2m). There will be another 10 or so mega-cities in a decade’s time, with an extra six or so in two decades’ time, according to forecasts.

All of these facts and many more are drawn from The Problem with Mega-Cities, by Joel Kotkin and colleagues and published by Chapman University’s Centre for Demographics and Policy. While I tend to disagree with many of the book’s conclusions, and am more upbeat about cities than its authors are, it is chock-a-block with fascinating insights and statistics.

London was the smallest of the 29 mega-cities, with its urban region (which includes not just Greater London but a swathe of the home counties’ commuter belt) now home to 10.15m, compared with 10.98m for the Paris region. Crucially, however, London’s population grew at a much faster rate than any other mega-city in the developed world – more than 10pc over the past decade, against 8pc for Paris, 6pc for Los Angeles and just 3pc for New York. This week’s net migration figures suggest that London is continuing to expand at a very fast rate, a development which is bound to continue to put pressure on house prices at a time of still limited supply.

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World Bank forums see youth as global changemakers

By Michael Marshall for UPI.com

An international group of young professionals, entrepreneurs, social activists, and student leaders showcased the role of youth in global development through forums at the World Bank forums on youth service and entrepreneurship.

“Without the involvement of young people in areas that affect them it will be difficult for countries to move forward,” said Evans Musonde from Zambia. He represented the Africa Peace Service Corps that is working to integrate the societies on east and southern Africa through cross-border youth service exchanges.

Karen Scheuerer of the U.S. Peace Corps said, “We see youth as change makers.” She noted the Peace Corps efforts to promote youth entrepreneurship. About three-quarters of the people the Peace Corps works with are youth.

H.E. Olive Wonekha, Uganda’s ambassador to the U.S., said that countries like hers needed a shift from donor aid to more international trade and investment. Uganda needed to develop a core of young entrepreneurs to facilitate this development.

Speakers also stressed the importance of international exchanges and fellowships in developing the skills of young entrepreneurs and leaders in the developing world.

The forums are part of the 4th International Young Leaders Assembly that brings together 800 young leaders from over 60 countries for programs in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and New York at the U.N. from August 11-20.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2014/08/17/World-Bank-forums-see-youth-as-global-changemakers/1421408154721/#ixzz3AkiPfSvQ

In Need of Honorable Merchants

Michael Czinkota researches international marketing issues at Georgetown University. He served in trade policy positions in the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan administrations. His International Marketing text (with I. Ronkainen) is now in its 10th edition. Kimberly Boeckmann participated in drafting this work.

A powerful concept in today’s international marketing field focuses on re-establishing honorable practices in the workplace and, more importantly, across borders.

The emphasis on the Honorable Merchant is a renewed issue in Europe, bringing fresh life to old thoughts. What exactly is an Honorable Merchant? It dates back at least to medieval history and ancient mercantile practices, where trust was paramount for achieving success.  “Honorable practices” are rules established to guide merchants in conducting international business. For example, Berhold v. Regensburg admonished in 1210 that merchants should always use accurate measures and weights, highlighting Honorable practices as a priority in society. These rules go all the way back to Proverbs (11:1), which specifically address merchants: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” The New Testament, Matthew 19:23-24, cites Jesus as saying ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’. Later on, the Quran resolves that charging interest is inappropriate and even sinful (Quran 3:130-131).  In Chinese society, the role of a merchant was seen as a necessary evil, far below more exalted societal roles, such as imperial officials.

Honor also implied accountability beyond the merchants themselves, extending to their leaders. In the early 15th century, creditors from abroad requested that citizens convince their nobility to pay their trade debts. If not, they threatened attack not only on the noblemen and cities themselves, but every merchant from those cities.

A summary then indicates:

  1. The profession of merchants often has a dubious reputation, even more so internationally.
  2. Mixed emotions are prevalent, since merchants can either help or hinder through their work
  3. Internationally, merchants may be at a disadvantage due to their foreignness. Their background and differences could detract from success in business
  4. International merchants are attractive since they bring choice to market, however they still may displace domestic relationships
  5. To overcome this psychic distance, merchants must compensate for their shortcomings

Merchants have long faced a variety of objections, making it difficult to climb the path to trust. Trust can facilitate investments in relationship assets, encourage information sharing, and lower transaction costs. However, Honorable practices have developed over time, by building long-term customer relationships. We believe that the outcome of Honorable behavior will be the construction of Trust Bridges.

An Honorable Merchant’s reputation can be developed by highlighting commonalities and shared experiences, which establish a set of standards for international business. Exposing two parties to common conditions and values helps establish connectivity, warmth and trust more rapidly than if they had no similar experiences. Through a combination of collaboration, symposia, conferences, and courses, partners can accredit and certify people or companies through a database of Trust Bridges.

In its annual Global Marketing conference, held recently in Cancun, the American Marketing Association sought to help in developing the honorable merchant concept. Today’s critical characteristics of an Honorable Merchant must be to 1) build trust, 2) demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CSR), and 3) offer integrity and reliability, i.e. just because something can be done, the Honorable Merchant will not necessarily do it. All this needs to occur simultaneously in the realms of academia, business, and policy.

An essential application of a Trust Bridge exists for alumni of a university. A university’s ability to establish an extraordinary environment enables the building of common bridges, anchored in similar life experiences.  The most effective way to develop strong relationships is to highlight what each party brings to the table. Team work, networking and reputation will increasingly become the main factor in choosing to attend a brick and mortar university, even after the web and internet provide alternatives to traditional education. However, for such efforts to be victorious, they must go beyond the mere transfer of information and help interested parties collaborate and connect.

Familiarity brings a fast track to relationships. A data base of shared experiences can be instrumental in fostering such familiarity. A greater capacity for trust is developed through understanding, which shapes honorable relationships. Honorable practices should again become the expectation and norm.