This article is based on the contributions of Georgetown University’s McDonough Business School graduating class of 2019.
As the largest importer in the world, the United
States obtains about 13% of global goods and services from other countries –
diverse as China, Canada and Mexico. The United States tends to buy more than
it sells. Americans have access to worldwide products and none has to go
overseas to get it. But does this mean they have access to everything? And if
not, what new inventions and innovations is the United States missing out on?
While everyone talks about exports, we focus on
the so often maligned imports. Exports
make imports possible, which enhances selection, competition, and
competitiveness. With already a shining city on the hill, how can things get
Our team of hands-on experts, exposed to products
from around the globe. They are a group of seniors the McDonough School of Business
at Georgetown University. We asked them to give us a closer look into what the
US should import more of. Students explore new motivations for US imports to
include goods and services from a wide array of industries ranging from fine
foods to health and technology.
Technology has effectively become the center of
our lives. Students believe that the US should dedicate its import efforts on
innovative products that will enhance tech performance and connectivity. The
United States currently can only support 4G services to telephones. Korea, on
the other hand, has been using 5G recently, which has provided them the
opportunity to grow faster and be more flexible than the U.S. There now is a
lucrative market for portable chargers. As they are cheaper to import than to
produce, the US is more likely better off importing battery pack rentals from
The need for tech innovation is not limited to
mobile phones, but includes automobiles and health. With rising auto tariffs,
the United States will have decreasing access to advanced automotive
engineering technologies. Specifically, foreign markets sell sleek pickup
trucks, which are not available in the United States and penetrate Asia and
Sub-Saharan Africa. Access to such advanced forms of auto engineering will
benefit US consumers.
Innovation will also support health sector advances.
There was demand for robotic goods. Japan was credited with very advanced
medical robotics. The Kibo Experiment Module allowed fixing problems on the
International Space Station without having to send a human into space.
Similarly, robots are used in Japan right now in order to have a more
precise and efficient way of significantly treating cancer patients. There are
also bionic arms for upper-limb amputees, customizable for each wearer. Children
can update their arms as their bodies grow. Such technologies should be brought
to the US, where many individuals have received damage to their limbs.
There also is demand for simple technologies and
ideas that effectively improve the wellness and wellbeing of individuals. Asian
facemasks mitigate pollution-related health risks. The Water-Leech – a tank
that absorbs and retains water runoff from a shower, bath or sink – was found
to be a product worth importing from Australia. This tank allows consumers to
save water instead of wasting it down the drain.
Other ideas included public spaces where
communities can be given the chance to exercise and socialize in order to
become more active and engage with others. Colombia’s Ciclovias, where some of the main roads in Bogota are closed off
for cars and open to pedestrians who want to bike, walk or simply chill,
inspired such leisure spaces well worth importing.
Discussed was leisure time at work: 2 – 3 hours
for a mid-day nap, otherwise known as siestas. The Spanish’s rendition of the
traditional American lunch break could potentially attract more millennials into
the workplace, and add massive value for employees, particularly those who work
in innovative, creative industries.
Cultural innovation was not limited to the
workplace. In this increasingly globalized world, it was important to
understand different cultures. How do different backgrounds and upbringings result
in contrasting approaches to the same situation? Students observed a need for
educational exchange programs that remove students from their comfort zones in
order to truly experience a variety of different cultures. New exchange
programs will completely immerse students into the culture. Most relevant is the
opportunity to explore underdeveloped and remote areas of the world, which will
eventually be part of all’s underbelly.
While the US has access to a range of premium
goods and services, imports can be crucial in providing the finer things in
life. Students called on the need for luxury, fine foods to task Americans’
taste buds. There was strong appeal of wines from France, Italy and Spain, particularly
when paired with refined, imported cheese. Australian marinated goat cheese for
$12 per 11oz jar will perhaps be the next luxurious brand of food.
Perceptions of luxury was not limited to goods,
but extended also to services. Specifically, in Switzerland, the world-renowned
Paracelsus Clinic offers unparalleled medical services that, in a perfect
world, would be available in the United States as well. Paracelsus Recovery,
founded in 2012, offers a unique “luxury treatment program” for clients
struggling with addiction, including substance abuse and mental disorders.
Patients live in a luxury residence with a team of international doctors that
specialize in their condition. Attention of approximately 15 doctors is solely
focused on the patient and their needs. Yet, the cost structure is expensive.
At present, the recovery group charges $80,000 Swiss Francs a week, or the
equivalent of USD $81,300.80.
Imports are good, but need to be fair. Our students understand and support such restraints, yet know that selection and diverseness is a strong pivot enriching lives.
Professor Czinkota (email@example.com) teaches international marketing and trade at the University of Kent in
Canterbury and Georgetown University. His latest book is “In Search For The
Soul of International Business”, (businessexpertpress.com) 2019.
El-Saharty (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a second-year Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT)
graduate student at Georgetown University, specializing in visual communication
design and persuasive communication.