Fluent In OPIC™- Getting financing and political risk insurance for your projects abroad

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Please join us for a “Fluent In OPIC™ – Getting financing and political risk insurance for your projects abroad” webinar series.

This webinar will only be presented three more times this year. Please register for the date and time that work best for you.

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Sponsored by the Broad Street Capital Group, this proprietary complimentary webinar ($379 Value) will offer comprehensive “beyond the website” look on how to effectively utilize little-known programs offered by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – a US Government Agency – to finance international investment and franchise transactions for US companies expanding abroad.

The workshop will address the types of transactions and industries being financed. It will go over the application process, deal structures, sponsor requirements and commitments, approval procedure, realistic time frame estimates, costs, fees, legal and developmental issues. The workshop will also examine various options for protecting investment through effective use of political risk insurance.
PRESENTER: 
ALEXANDER GORDIN, Managing Director of the Broad Street Capital Group and Creator of the FLUENT IN FOREIGN BUSINESS franchise.
An international merchant banking professional with over 25 years experience providing cross-border strategic advisory services in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and business development. Clients include foreign governments and state enterprises. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty-five countries. Author of the critically acclaimed “Fluent in Foreign Business” book. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, … for more ….http://wp.me/P1iIhX-I

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“Emerging Markets’ Business Opportunities Disconnect and What to Do about It.”

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Please join us for  an “Emerging Markets’ Business Opportunities Disconnect and What to Do about It.” webinar

on Oct 09, 2013 at 2:00 PM EDT.

Register now!

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PROBLEM 
As their economies grow, emerging market countries are aggressively building infrastructure, and developing commerce. These countries need a host of resources including suppliers, professionals, investors, franchisors et cetera from outside their borders to help them capitalize on their potential.

At the same time, many companies from developed nations, particularly from the U.S., are eager to provide products or services.

However, the market of connecting these buyers and sellers is extremely inefficient. Tremendous amounts of valuable time, resources and money have been wasted, until now.

Professionals at Fluent In Foreign Business have developed a program that effectively and efficiently connects emerging countries with companies and investors that are ready, willing and able to provide needed products and services. This initiative addresses several fundamental problems currently hindering international business such as cross-culture gaps, lack of financing, risk mitigation and legal compliance with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering legislature.

Fluent In Foreign also provides a cost-effective platform for pre-selected Emerging market companies, as well as North American exporters, investors, project developers and franchisors to access and take advantage of qualified business opportunities in more than 40 of the most promising emerging markets.

PRESENTER:

ALEXANDER GORDIN, Managing Director of the Broad Street Capital Group and Creator of the FLUENT IN FOREIGN BUSINESS franchise.
An international merchant banking professional with over 25 years experience providing cross-border strategic advisory services in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and business development. Clients include foreign governments and state enterprises. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty-five countries. Author of the critically acclaimed  FLUENT IN FOREIGN BUSINESS book. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, … for more ….http://wp.me/P1iIhX-I

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information about joining the webinar.

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The Global Economy In 17 Beautiful Maps

The global economic ecosystem is an intricate machine with thousands of moving parts.Luckily,

we found Countrylicious, an outstanding project by Romanian software engineer Daniel Chirita.

The site has reams of data collected from open sources about our planet’s economy,

and Chirita was kind enough to let us publish some. In the case that the data wasn’t already made into a shaded map,

we took his information mad made one.

Take a look at what makes the global economy tick.


READ MORE

America’s Toilet Turnaround

By JAMES R. HAGERTY WSJ.com

 After Years of Moving Work Overseas, Remaining Factories Ramp Up U.S. Output

[image]

David Walter Banks for The Wall Street Journal

Toto’s toilet plant in Morrow, Ga., uses a combination of manual craftsmanship and robotic labor to help reduce costs and cut production time.

PERRYSVILLE, Ohio—In previous management jobs, Jim Morando watched Chinese imports engulf the U.S. market for vinyl tiles, wood flooring and window blinds.

Now, as president of Mansfield Plumbing Products, a toilet manufacturer here, Mr. Morando says he has decided to “stand and fight.”

After decades of losing out to foreign rivals, U.S. manufacturing of toilets is making a surprising, if modest, comeback—mostly under foreign ownership.

Mansfield Plumbing, owned since 2004 by Organizacion Corona of Colombia, is spending $9 million to expand the capacity of its Perrysville plant by nearly 50%. Another toilet maker, Toto Ltd. 5332.TO -1.61% of Japan, is installing new casting machinery to raise capacity at its Morrow, Ga., plant about 5%.

How Toilets are Made

David Walter Banks for The Wall Street JournalNearly finished toilets move through a Toto factory in Morrow, Ga.

 

American Standard Brands, bought earlier this year by Lixil Corp.5938.TO -1.13% of Japan, is installing a new kiln and refurbishing other parts of its Nevada, Mo., plant, boosting capacity 5% to 10%.

The toilet turnaround is a microcosm of U.S. manufacturing trends.

“The days of chasing cheap labor around the world are coming to an end,” said William Strang, who heads the operations division for Toto in the Americas. Toto is reducing trans-Pacific shipments and relying more on U.S. and Mexican plants for its sales in North America.

Making toilets requires lots of manual labor—”very much like making pottery,” as one industry executive puts it. That is why most production moved over the past two decades to lower-cost countries, mostly China and Mexico.

The work is demanding, requiring muscles to lift bowls and tanks, as well as a delicate touch to smooth surfaces.

“You need the strength of a football player and the hands of a sculptor,” Manfield’s Mr. Morando said as workers in muscle shirts hoisted newly baked porcelain on a recent afternoon.

Three-quarters of the 10.6 million residential and commercial toilets sold in the U.S. last year were imports, estimates Victor Post, vice president of GMP Research Inc., a research firm based in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

There are just seven toilet plants in the U.S. today, down from 48 in the late 1970s, Mr. Morando said.

Much of that capacity may never return, but industry executives now see U.S. production as a viable alternative. Even if they don’t build new plants in the U.S., they are more inclined to add capacity in nearby Mexico rather than in China so they can reduce shipping times. In addition, ocean-shipping costs and Chinese wages have risen, making production there less attractive.

The biggest U.S. toilet suppliers are Kohler Co., with an estimated 24% of the U.S. market, followed by American Standard, 18%; Toto, 9%, and Mansfield, 8%, according to GMP.

Kohler has kept three U.S. toilet plants—in Kohler, Wis.; Brownsville, Texas, and Spartanburg, S.C.—and runs a large plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Many smaller U.S. suppliers moved all their production outside the U.S.

image

When he arrived at Mansfield in early 2006, Mr. Morando said, the factory in Perrysville was “on the ropes,” with production costs about 20% above Chinese imports.

But Mr. Morando wanted to keep production in the U.S. That would allow the company to differentiate itself by stressing its ability to get products to customers faster, respond quickly to changes in consumer preferences, and offer a “Made in U.S.A” label, which Mr. Morando believes is increasingly appealing.

To cut costs, Mansfield automated administrative processes such as order-taking and reduced inventories, among other things. Workers, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, accepted a wage freeze that lasted until 2012 and shouldered a larger share of health-care costs.

“We’ve worked together to get them through a rough time,” said Mike Markham, secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters local that represents workers.

Mansfield employs about 480 people in Perrysville, up from 370 four years ago, and expects to raise that head count to about 550 within six months, Mr. Morando said.

In Georgia, Toto has increased automation. New Motoman robots, from Japan’sYaskawa Electric Corp., 6506.TO -2.18% spray glaze on the toilets, a job done by people in many factories. Those new robots are about twice as fast as the previous ones used by Toto.

Still, much of the work needs to be done by hand, partly because the clay used to make toilets is fragile during the production process and could easily be damaged by machinery. People don’t need to be reprogrammed every time a style changes slightly.

Clay arrives at the plant as powder. Giant blades stir the powder with water into a gray soup, pumped via pipes and hoses into molds. After the clay bowls emerge from the molds, workers use sponges to smooth the surfaces.

“The human hand is much more sensitive and capable” than a robot for such tasks, Toto’s Mr. Strang said.

The workers bond the rim of the toilet to the bowl by hand. A custom-made machine gingerly grasps the clay bowl and turns it upside down so workers can inspect the underside.

Then a conveyor belt moves the toilets into a drying room, where they sweat out excess liquid. After drying, the robots spray on glaze, a liquid that provides the hard, shiny surface.

Then the toilets spend roughly 18 hours baking in a kiln at a temperature of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Next come final assembly and testing.

Annie Shannon whacks each newly baked toilet with a wooden mallet. “It should sound like a bell,” said Ms. Shannon, who has worked in the plant for 15 years. If the sound is flat, there might be a hairline crack in the porcelain.

One of her colleagues puts sponges in the new toilets and flushes. Mr. Strang explained: “We want to make sure if we put four sponges in, four come out.”

Write to James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com

Offshore Accounts: No Place to Hide?

The U.S.’s intense crackdown on tax evasion is entering a new phase.

LAURA SAUNDERSWSJ.com

 

Stephen Webster

What a difference a few years can make.

For decades U.S. tax authorities did little to enforce laws on offshore accounts. Some people felt free to hide assets abroad in a web of secret accounts, and many U.S. citizens living abroad didn’t bother to file returns with Uncle Sam as long as they paid local taxes.

All that changed in 2009, when U.S. officials began an intense campaign against undeclared accounts after UBS AG UBSN.VX -0.82% admitted that it helped U.S. taxpayers hide money abroad. The Swiss bank paid $780 million and turned over more than 4,000 names to avoid criminal charges.

Now, international tax lawyers like Henry Christensen are telling clients with offshore accounts that “tax havens where people can hide money are a thing of the past.” Mr. Christensen, of McDermott, Will & Emery in New York, represents many wealthy multinational families. “Forget about confidentiality,” he says he and his peers are telling clients. “Transparency is here to stay.”

The crackdown has brought momentous changes. Among other things, the once-impenetrable veil of Swiss bank secrecy is in tatters, following an agreement in late August between the U.S. and Switzerland that will cause dozens of Swiss banks to pay penalties and name names to atone for past misdeeds. READ MORE

Factory Rebirth Fizzles in U.S. as Work Shipped Overseas

Randy Webb sees scant evidence of a U.S. manufacturing rebound in the Ohio plant where he’s fixed aircraft electronics for 25 years. Honeywell International Inc. (HON) is closing the shop in 2014 as it expands such work overseas.

Webb is among 80 employees poised to lose their jobs in Strongsville, Ohio, outside Cleveland, near where General Electric Co. (GE) will shut a lighting factory in favor of production in Hungary. Delphi Automotive Plc (DLPH) is sending parts assembly to Mexico from Flint, Michigan, and Eaton Corp. (ETN) will make extra-large hydraulic cylinders in the Netherlands, not Alabama.

Factory Rebirth Fizzles in U.S. as Work Shipped Overseas: Jobs

Higher taxes and employee benefits boost U.S. manufacturing costs to 9 percent more than the average of the country’s nine-largest trading partners, according to a Sept. 3 report by a team of JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

“Manufacturing is clearly on the downswing,” said Webb, 49, who was told in April that the Strongsville Service Center would close. “Everybody I know is jumping to the service industry or taking some other kind of job.”

The U.S. industrial comeback, an idea embraced by President Barack Obama and some economists as 12 years of factory-job losses gave way to three annual gains, is now sputtering. Even with nonfarm payrolls up 1.1 percent in 2013 to 136.1 million, manufacturing has stagnated at less than 12 million. Factories added more than 500,000 positions after falling in February 2010 to the lowest since 1941.

That left the factory workforce through August about 13 percent smaller than the 13.7 million when the U.S. fell into recession in December 2007. In 2000, the tally was 17 million.

“I know all of us are concerned about manufacturing, but it’s not going to come home to the degree that it used to be,” Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said at a Sept. 5 event in Dallas.

Cost Disadvantage

Higher taxes and employee benefits boost U.S. manufacturing costs to 9 percent more than the average of the country’s nine-largest trading partners, according to a Sept. 3 report by a team of JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts.

For GE, higher U.S. expenses mean sending assembly of high-intensity discharge lamps to Budapest from a factory with 160 workers in Ravenna, Ohio.

“This particular product that was at Ravenna was made more cost competitively in Hungary,” said Christopher Augustine, a spokesman for Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE.

Hungary is GE’s global production center for that product line, just as fluorescent-lamp output is centered elsewhere in Ohio, in Bucyrus, Augustine said. Many of those lights go to U.S. customers, he said.

Expanding Abroad

Honeywell has cut its U.S. workforce by 5,000 positions to 52,000 since 2007 while adding 15,000 employees abroad, for a total of 80,000 outside the country.

Strongsville is one of two avionics repair shops closing in the U.S., along with one in Irving, Texas, said Steve Brecken, a Honeywell spokesman. U.S. operations are being consolidated in Renton, Washington, and Wichita, Kansas, and part of the work is being transferred to a U.S.-based contractor, he said. Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell is expanding outside the U.S. at shops in Singapore and Shanghai to meet rising demand there, Brecken said.

“The world has opened up and it’s providing more choices for manufacturers that are global companies and supply a global customer base,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist for Pierpont Securities LLC in StamfordConnecticut. “We’re going to continue to see a globalization of manufacturing.”

Obama’s efforts to nurture a manufacturing comeback include the National Export Initiative he announced in March 2010, a month after factory payrolls slid to 11.5 million. The goal was to double U.S. exports and create 2 million jobs, with programs such as financing for small- and medium-sized businesses to boost sales overseas.

No Easing

In February, he laid out a four-point plan to revitalize manufacturing in his State of the Unionaddress, including cutting the tax rate on manufacturers to 25 percent from a top federal corporate rate of 35 percent. Seven months later, tax changes remain stalled in a gridlocked Congress.

The National Association of Manufacturers, often at odds with Obama over policy issues, agrees with him on the prospect of a factory rebirth.

With cheap natural gas from U.S. shale deposits and increased automation reducing labor’s share of manufacturing costs, U.S. factories can compete with those in low-wage countries, said Chad Moutray, the Washington-based group’s chief economist.

“People want to locate and invest here because they want to sell to us,” Moutray said. “Multinationals may be investing overseas, but they’re also investing here.”

Payrolls, Productivity

One discouraging sign that manufacturing employment is recovering: the 13 percent gap between factory payrolls now and before the recession occurred amid a rebound in output, said Tim Quinlan, a Wells Fargo & Co. economist in Charlotte, North CarolinaIndustrial productiontrails a 2007 pre-recession high by only 1.9 percentage points.

“Whereas I do see manufacturing underpinning overall U.S. economic growth, I don’t see hiring in the factory sector underpinning growth in jobs,” Quinlan said. “It will be a long, long time before we get back to pre-recession highs for employment in the factory sector.”

With manufacturing employment up only 0.1 percent through August, job growth is just about keeping pace with losses such as the pending shutdown in November of Delphi’s Flint factory, with 300 employees.

The work is being moved to Mexico, according to a Trade Adjustment Assistance petition filed with the U.S. Labor Department. Tom Wickham, a spokesman for General Motors Co. (GM), which supplied unionized hourly workers for the plant supervised by Troy, Michigan-based Delphi, confirmed the closing.

Eaton, Jabil

Eaton said in a petition that it shuttered its hydraulic-cylinder plant in Decatur, Alabama, in July. Scott Schroeder, a spokesman for Dublin, Ireland-based Eaton, said consolidating production boosts efficiency. In Tempe, Arizona, contract electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc. (JBL)will eliminate about 500 positions with a factory closing.

“We are in the process of moving several assemblies to other Jabil facilities in Mexico and Asia in order to reduce labor costs and meet our customers’ pricing expectations,” the St. Petersburg, Florida-based company said in a Trade Adjustment Assistance petition. Beth Walters, a Jabil spokeswoman, said by e-mail that the plant will close within a year.

Webb, who said he helped train Honeywell employees from abroad who now perform work once done in the U.S., can relate to displaced workers at other U.S. manufacturers. If he can’t find a job near Strongsville with equal pay, he may pursue a long-held desire to become a high school teacher.

In the meantime, he goes to work each day amid the strain of a months-long wind-down before what may be the end of his career in avionics repair.

“It’s like dying a death of a thousand cuts here,” Webb said, “because it’s going so slowly.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Dallas at tblack@bloomberg.net

China Looks West as It Bolsters Regional Ties

China News Stories

President Xi Jinping of China, evoking the camel caravans of the old Silk Road that traversed the ancient plains of Kazakhstan on their way from China to Europe, said Saturday that he wanted to create a contemporary version that would bind together China and its Central Asian neighbors.

Fresh from the Group of 20summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Xi referred to Kazakhstan as an increasingly important energy supplier for China and an anchor for its new “marching westwards” policy, which looks to quickly strengthen economic and strategic relations with Central Asia.

China remains dependent on the Middle East to feed its huge oil needs, but wants to diversify, experts say, so that more oil and gas providers are closer to home. Energy from Central Asia comes via land-based pipelines that are considered safer than the more vulnerable sea routes from the Middle East.

Mr. Xi is…

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China buys into giant Kazakh oilfield for $5 billion

 

An aerial view shows artificial islands on Kashagan offshore oil field in the Caspian sea, western Kazakhstan, April 7, 2013. Picture taken April 7, 2013. REUTERS/Anatoly Ustinenko

By Mariya Gordeyeva, Reuters

ASTANA

(Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping struck a deal with Kazakhstan on Saturday that will give China a stake in the its giant Kashagan oil project, a highlight of his tour of Central Asia securing hydrocarbons for the world’s largest energy consumer.

The $5 billion deal further increases China’s rising clout in post-Soviet Central Asia, once Russia’s imperial backyard, and blocks an attempt by global rival India to get a stake in the oilfield, the world’s largest oil discovery in five decades.Kazakhstan-2_Page_1

“The two countries have agreed on China’s shareholding in the development of the Kashagan deposit,” Xi told a news briefing after talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “The two governments hail and support this agreement.”

Oil and gas deals, including on building an oil refinery in Kazakhstan, are among 22 agreements reached during Xi’s visit and worth some $30 billion, Nazarbayev said.

Kazakhstan will sell 8.33 percent of the Kashagan offshore oilfield to China for about $5 billion in a deal to be signed later on Saturday, Kazakh government sources told Reuters.

READ MORE

The Lewis Model Explains Every Culture In The World

BulldozerFelixGUS LUBIN, Business Insider
A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided he was qualified to plot the worlds cultures on a chart. He did so while acknowledging the dangers of stereotypes. “Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception,” Lewis wrote. “
There is, however, such a thing as a national norm.” Many people think he nailed it, as his book READ MORE

“How can they be so good?”: The strange story of Skype

A terrific article that not only describes how a small team of European programmers built a global business brand and enabled millions worldwide to facilitate both personal communications and business dealings, but also illustrates the danger of cross-cultural divides and how they can threaten international enterprises no matter how well-known, well-funded, or technologically advanced they are. (A.G)

As Skype turns ten, a look back at how six Europeans changed the world.

From a company powerpoint, here’s an artist’s impression of the moment when Skype’s idea was fostered. (Zennström on the left, next to Friis.) Malthe Sigurdsson

“I don’t care about Skype!” millionaire Jaan Tallinn tells me, taking off his blue sunglasses and finding a seat at a cozy open-air restaurant in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia. “The technology is 10 years old—that’s an eternity when it comes to the Internet Age. Besides, I have more important things going on now.”

Tallinn has five children, and he calls Skype his sixth. So why does he no longer care about his creation?

On August 29, 2003, Skype went live for the first time. By 2012, according to Telegeography, Skype accounted for a whopping 167 billion minutes of cross-border voice and video calling in a year—which itself was a stunning 44 percent growth over 2011. That increase in minutes was “more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world, combined.” That is to say, Skype today poses a serious threat to the largest telcos on the planet. It also made Jaan Tallinn and other early Skypers rich.

But something changed along the way. Skype is no longer the upstart that refused to put signs on its offices, that dodged international lawyers, and that kept a kiddie pool in the boardroom. This is the real story of how a global brand truly began, told in more detail than ever before by those who launched it.

In the year 2000…

In 2000, as dot-com fever swept America, an entertainment and news portal called Everyday.com brought together a sextet of European revolutionaries.

It began with two people from the Swedish telecom Tele2—a Swede named Niklas Zennström and a Dane named Janus Friis. Zennström was Tele2 employee no. 23; Friis worked his way up in customer service for a Danish operator.

The Swedish owner of Tele2, Jan Stenbeck, was determined to launch the Everyday portal and launch it quickly. As the Swedes were having trouble, Stefan Öberg, the Marketing Director in Tele2’s Estonian office, proposed finding some Estonians for the job. In May 1999, Tele2 published an ad in a daily newspaper calling for competent programmers and offering the hefty sum of 5,000 Estonian kroons (about $330) a day—more than an average Estonian earned in a month at the time.

The work went to Jaan Tallinn, Ahti Heinla, and Priit Kasesalu—Estonian schoolmates and tech fans. They had been into Fidonet, a computer network which preceded the Internet, since the Soviet era. They started a small company, Bluemoon, which made computer games such as Kosmonaut. (In 1989, Kosmonaut became the first Estonian game to be sold abroad.) The game earned its creators $5,000 dollars, which at the time was a large sum for any Estonian. But by the turn of the century, the three friends were down to their last penny and Bluemoon was facing bankruptcy.

Short of money, they applied for and got the Tele2 job. The PHP programming language needed for the work was new to them, but the team learned it in a weekend and completed their test assignment much faster than Tele2 requested.

The last of the Skype sextet, Toivo Annus, was hired in Tallinn to manage the development of Everyday.com. The site would soon be complete, with Zennström and Friis working in Luxembourg and Amsterdam, and Annus and the Bluemoon trio working from Tallinn.

Tele2 was thrilled with the Estonians, but the Everyday.com portal failed commercially. Zennström and Friis left Tele2 and lived in Amsterdam for a while. The homeless Friis stayed in Zennström’s guest room, and they turned the kitchen into a temporary office.

Together, Zennström and Friis pored over new business ideas. As the US was fascinated at the time with the scandal surrounding Napster, Zennström and Friis planned something similar. But where Napster infuriated the music and movie industries, Zennström and Friis hoped to cooperate with them. They didn’t have the slightest doubt about where their new product should be created—in Tallinn, obviously. Kazaa was born. READ MORE

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