25 Fascinating Charts Of Negotiation Styles Around The World

GUS LUBINm Business Insider 

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Language is only the most obvious part of the global communication gap. Different cultures also have distinct approaches to communication during meetings and negotiations, as described by British linguist Richard D. Lewis, whose best-selling book, “When Cultures Collide,” charts these as well as leadership styles and cultural identities.

Lewis, who speaks ten languages, acknowledges the danger of cultural comparisons in his book: “Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception. There is, however, such a thing as a national norm.”

In support of cross-cultural studies, he writes: “By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us. A working knowledge of the basic traits of other cultures (as well as our own) will minimize unpleasant surprises (culture shock), give us insights in advance, and enable us to interact successfully with nationalities with whom we previously had difficulty.”

Lewis’ communication diagrams show how cultures use language to negotiate, with wider shapes showing greater conversational range, obstacles marked in gray, and cultural traits noted as well.

Americans, for instance, tend to launch right into negotiations, respond to discord confrontationally, and resolve with one or both sides making concessions.

Canadians tend to be more low-key and inclined to seek harmony, though they are similarly direct.

We’ll go over the rest in brief after a selection of charts taken with permission from the 2005 third edition of “When Cultures Collide.”

communication styles around the world
crossculture.com

English tend to avoid confrontation in an understated, mannered, and humorous style that can be both inefficient and powerful.

French tend to engage vigorously in a logical debate.

Germans rely on logic but “tend to amass more evidence and labor their points more than either the British or the French.”

Spanish and Italians “regard their languages as instruments of eloquence and they will go up and down the scale at will, pulling out every stop if need be to achieve greater expressiveness.”

Scandinavians often have entrenched opinions that they have formulated “in the long dark nights,” though they are reasonable conversationalists. Swedes often have the most wide-ranging discussions, Finns tend to value concision, and most Norwegians fall somewhere in between.

Swiss tend to be straightforward and unaggressive negotiators, who obtain concessions by expressing confidence in the quality and value of their goods and services.

Hungarians value eloquence over logic and are unafraid to talk over each other.

Bulgarians may take a circuitous approach to negotiations before seeking a mutually beneficial resolution, which will often be screwed up by bureaucracy.

Poles often have a communication style that is “enigmatic, ranging from a matter-of-fact pragmatic style to a wordy, sentimental, romantic approach to any given subject.”

The Dutch are focused on facts and figures but “are also great talkers and rarely make final decisions without a long ‘Dutch’ debate, sometimes approaching the danger zone of overanalysis.”

Chinese tend to be more direct than the Japanese and some other East Asians; however, meetings are principally for information gathering, with the real decisions made elsewhere. Hong Kongers negotiate much more briskly to achieve quick results.

Indian English “excels in ambiguity, and such things as truth and appearances are often subject to negotiation.”

Australians tend to have a loose and frank conversational style.

Singaporeans generally take time to build a relationship, after which they can be shrewd negotiators.

Koreans tend to be energetic conversationalists who seek to close deals quickly, occasionally stretching the truth.

Indonesians tend to be very deferential conversationalists, sometimes to the point of ambiguity.

Israelis tend to proceed logically on most issues but emotionally on some.

And that’s how one respected, well-traveled, and highly multilingual linguist sees the world.

 

 

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After 25 years in business we have developed a winning business model to help companies establish, or expand their business internationally . We then put our business model into a poem and that helped us distill and internalize it better. Can you express your business as a poem? If yes, submit your entry to agordin@fluentinforeign.com before 5pm April 4th, 2014 and the poem we judge to be the best, will be published in our upcoming Trade Week Special Edition in May.

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How to Sell Garbage Disposals in China

Emerson’s InSinkErator Rejiggered to Munch Kitchen Favorites Like Eel, Bullfrog Skin and Duck Heads


Emerson Electric hopes China’s housing market will open up for its kitchen disposals. Pictured, workers at its Racine, Wis., InSinkErator factory. Rob Hart for The Wall Street Journal

By JAMES R. HAGERTY, WSJ.com

RACINE, Wis.—About half of all U.S. homes have garbage disposals gurgling under kitchen sinks to grind up food waste. The rest of the world generally doesn’t share Americans’ enthusiasm for this gadget.

That’s a problem for Emerson Electric Co. EMR -0.15% ‘s InSinkErator unit, the world’s largest disposal maker, whose founder invented the device 87 years ago. The U.S. market for disposals, totaling about $1 billion at the retail level last year, is mature and slow-growing. Despite decades of overseas promotion by InSinkErator and others, the U.S. still accounts for more than three-quarters of global demand for disposals.

So InSinkErator has staked its growth hopes on China, where it sees big potential even though the product is almost unknown there.

“We are turning the dial up in China,” said Dave MacNair, vice president of global marketing at InSinkErator. The company in November 2012 opened a plant to make disposals in Nanjing, China, its only manufacturing site outside the U.S. It is pitching its product to the Chinese via online marketing and in-store displays, while working with home builders and local building-code and waste-handling officials to explain its benefits.

While browsing at Jiahe Jiamei Furniture City in Beijing recently, Wang Chao, an office worker, was skeptical about the disposals on display, costing 1,000 to 4,000 yuan, or $161 and $645. “I don’t know much about that,” she said, “and I’m not interested in buying one either.”

But James Liu, an antique dealer who studied in Britain, was interested in one to avoid blocked drain pipes and “disgusting” smells. “Not many of my friends have this at home,” he said.

So far, sales in China are tiny. InSinkErator won’t provide data but says sales are growing quickly—more than 30% a year—from a small base. The company is competing against several Chinese rivals, including Beijing Becbas Technology Co. and Ningbo Oulin Kitchen Utensils Co.

China is attractive partly because it has more housing construction than any other country. InSinkErator executives also believe the Chinese have a greater need for disposals because they eat less processed food than Americans and have more leftover vegetable peelings, fish bones and other items that can be ground up.

InSinkErator redesigned its disposals for the Chinese market, angling the grinding teeth differently so they could handle tough waste, including eel or bullfrog skin. The device also grinds more finely so leftover rice or noodles won’t clog pipes.

At InSinkErator’s labs in Racine, workers test disposals by feeding them with cow ribs and pinewood blocks. They also now test food more likely to be found in China, such as white radish (whose density presents challenges) and duck heads.

The technicians have found shark skin nearly impossible to grind up. Mango pits are equally tough. “They’re like nature’s Kevlar,” said Dane Hofmeister, a lab manager.

InSinkErator regularly seeks meetings with local Chinese officials to explain how disposals could reduce the amount of household waste that needs to be hauled away and buried in landfills. One victory came in early 2012 when the Shanghai Urban Construction and Communications Commission, under a pilot program, recommended use of disposals in certain types of housing.

The disposal was invented in 1927 by John Hammes, an architect in Racine, who got the idea while watching his wife clean up after dinner and built a primitive grinder from sheet metal and a small electric motor. He obtained a patent eight years later and formed the company in 1938. InSinkErator sales didn’t take off until after World War II, when housing construction boomed.

Sales depend heavily on new construction because it is expensive—often $400 to $800—to retrofit disposals into old homes. For that reason, they’re far more common in the Western U.S., with its newer housing stock, than in the Northeast’s older cities.

In the 1970s, InSinkErator used wild-haired comedian Phyllis Diller as a pitchwoman. Her lines included: “Every woman needs a leftover lover.” It diversified into trash compactors, which squash refuse into smaller bundles, but quit making them because they weren’t a big hit. It found more success with kitchen spigots that provide instant hot water at temperatures near boiling.

Still, disposals are the company’s mainstay. “We know kitchen waste solutions better than anyone,” says a banner hanging from the ceiling in the company’s bustling Racine factory, which has about 900 workers and 24 robots, including one nicknamed Wilma after the “Flintstones” cartoon character.

In the U.S., InSinkErator disposals retail from about $80 to $340. The company competes against General Electric Co. GE +0.50% and the Waste King brand of Anaheim Manufacturing Co., both of whom import disposals from Asia.

For now, InSinkErator is focusing efforts on China’s high end, but it may eventually have to offer lower-cost versions, Mr. MacNair said. “We think it will become a mass market [good],” he said. “The question is how long it is going to take.”

—Lilian Lin in Beijing contributed to this article.

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

U.S. Retailers Spent the Past Year Rushing Into Russia. Now What? (The Sanctions Blowback)

By Kyle Stock, BloombergBW


Illustration by Steph Davidson

Tiffany & Co. (TIF) invaded Moscow nearly 10 months ago. The luxury jeweler set up a beachhead of bling on June 4, 2013, promising millions of potential customers dreamy diamonds—or at least a nice window view for an Audrey Hepburn-style doughnut breakfast. Now the 4,500 square-foot store is caught in an economic war zone as sanctions squeeze Russian payment pipelines and a rapidly escalating standoff with Western powers cripples the ruble.

Tiffany is just one of many U.S. retailers that recently bet big on Russia—both on its consumers and the stability of its markets. Over the past year, companies that belong to the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index crowed about Russia at least 350 times during conference calls to discuss financial results, according to a Bloomberg analysis of transcripts. Russians have been driving demand for Apple (AAPL) iPhones, McDonald’s (MCD) burgers, Estee Lauder (EL) makeup,Fossil (FOSL) watches, andBeam (BEAM) bourbon, among other hot products.

At BorderFree (BRDR), a company that handles international e-commerce for such U.S. companies as J. Crew, Macy’s (M), and Williams-Sonoma (WSM), Russia is a top-five market, behind Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Just a few months ago, VF Corp (VFC), an apparel conglomerate, opened its first Moscow store to sell Van’s sneakers to would-be Russian surf rats. Mattel (MAT) reported a tripling of its Russian sales last year, which suggests that further U.S. sanctions abroad would threaten the sales of its American Girl dolls, surely an instrument of soft power.

Nike (NKE) has gushed about Russia for months, noting that business there has been sprinting along at a double-digit clip. “We are still the sports brand of choice in Russia and in Eastern Europe,” Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, said in December.

MotionPoint, a Miami-based company that translates and optimizes websites for e-commerce companies expanding abroad, says its Russian business has doubled in the past year. “It’s just a really, really big country, and because of that it’s been pretty underserved,” says Charles Whiteman, senior vice president of client services.

The recent proliferation of broadband, in particular, has spurred sales. Many MotionPoint clients started building Cyrillic sites only after they noticed how many Russians were navigating their English-language sites.

As of now, U.S. sanctions on Russia are mostly confined to members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and don’t stand in the way of iPads, Air Jordan high-tops, or the delicious bourbon pouring out of Kentucky distilleries. But it’s getting much harder for Russians to pay for them. Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) stopped processing some Russian transactions in order to comply with new U.S. sanctions. And the ruble is getting crushed as investors worry about where the diplomatic standoff over Ukraine may lead.

Since Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion stimulus package on Dec. 17, the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar has slid by 25 percent. If Putin wants a pair of authentic University of Connecticut basketball shorts (go Huskies!), he’ll have to fork over 2,848 rubles, rather than the 2,640 he’d have paid in December. (Unless, that is, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry throws him a pair as a peace offering.)

U.S. retailers that have watched the yen plummet in Japan know all too well how much that kind of exchange-rate turmoil weighs on commerce. The marketing choice is to watch transactions slow markedly or cut local prices just to keep people in stores or visiting websites.

For now, the Russian trade—like the standoff in Crimea—appears to be teetering on a brink of sorts. Elena Bychkovskikh, MotionPoint’s Russian specialist and a native of the country, says shoppers are in wait-and-see mode. “They just continue to monitor the situation,” she says. “But if they really need something, they’ll buy it.”

Nike, meanwhile, hopes those needs still include sportswear. Here’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker discussing the situation with analysts last week: “Obviously we’re hoping that a resolution comes to that situation peacefully,” he said. “And right now we’re focused on the things we can control, which is making sure we connect with our consumers.”

 

 

Crimean Lessons for US Companies Doing Business Abroad

Protecting your business when crisis eruptsInternational political disturbances such as current events in Crimea and prior upheavals in, among others, Syria,Venezuela,Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, Georgia, Congo, Iran and even Cuba always have profound effect on US businesses operating in the countries involved in those conflicts. Large US companies operating across the world have long learned to foresee and mitigate risks associated with politics, while small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), not so much. This is at the time when US SME sector has undergone unprecedented international expansion fueled by low dollar exchange rate, reduced costs of telecom and travel, advances of the internet and growing demand for US products and services.

So what can US exporters, contractors, investors and franchisors learn from the Crimean conflict and what steps can they take to protect themselves from the next eruption in a seemingly safe international destination?

DO NOT PANIC!

This is by far the most important lesson. My business and I have survived three full-blown political crises, living through the fourth and have saw many significant government and policy changes, financial melt downs a half-dozen revolutions and a war in countries where we have had permanent operations, or business dealings.

First, protect your employees, corporate property and information. Start implementing contingency plans and have all non-essential personnel leave the country if the State Department issues travel warnings for the country you operate in. Stay in constant touch with the local US Embassy, or US Commercial Service. Analyze and reanalyze the news and information you gather from your private network. Look for signs of permanent shifts, if those are not present odds are any crisis will blow over and things will return to normal and in many cases lead to greater economic prosperity.  Some crises play out in days (Georgian war, GkCHP in Russia in 1991) some like Crimea look like they are long-term game changers and require a more fundamental reaction and adjustment of one’s business to be in sync with the new reality and with the modified US policy.

STAY INFORMED

Develop and cultivate multiple sources of reliable information. During rapidly breaking international events, there is a tremendous amount of white noise and inaccurate information pouring out of multiple sources. Social network posts, experts of various stripes appearing on TV, newspaper and magazine articles all putting their own spin on the events, with many being inaccurate and some just plain fake.  Thus it is important to distill several balanced general news, as well as trade sources to extrapolate accurate and timely information. For instance during Crimean crisis multiple US mainstream news sources were a day late reporting many important developments, so having reputable local sources (often available in English) is important.

Develop an informal network of Embassy and government agency officials, local chambers of commerce (AMCHAM) offices, bilateral councils, legal and financial professionals operating in the countries of interest. Initiate regular information exchanges and analysis sessions with members of your network. Join LinkedIn groups and actively monitor subject discussions. Ask yourself periodically if coverage you are receiving is correct and balanced. Make sure you understands all the issues and perspective of all sides involved in the conflict.

CONTINGENCY PLANNING

What happens if you have an order in route to a foreign country and a conflict arises there? What happens if your buyer is arranging credit and you have ramped up your production when sanctions are imposed? What happens if you, or your employees are in the country during the start of an unrest?  What happens if the ruling party changes during significant contract negotiations? What about a politically motivated change in leadership among your perspective customers, borrowers, and other interested parties?

To minimize your risks, you will want to keep your business, your person, and your information secure. That means at least taking common sense precautions in your daily business operations.  It also means that you have to be absolutely ready to  abandon your entire business in the foreign country at a moment’s notice. In the movie Heat, Robert DeNiro, playing the part of Neil McCauley, defined his survival strategy:  “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” A similar strategy should be employed when doing business abroad.

An effective survival strategy must always include contingency plans. These could include getting out of a country in a hurry whether via traditional or alternate routes, implementing a crisis management plan and hiring security, using medical evacuation insurance, or knowing where you can get access to  a few thousand bucks for when your wallet is lost, office ransacked, ATMs cease operating or Visa/Mastercard system is disabled. For exporters who have goods en route, or are n the middle of a contract production, know your rerouting options, alternative markets and formulate your plan in case the force majeure clause of your contract is invoked.

DO NOT SAVE ON LEGAL COSTS and PAPER ALL TRANSACTIONS PROPERLY

Small and mid size businesses generally despise lawyers (well certainly legal costs) and temptation is often to cut corners, re-use standardized contracts, distribution agreements and not go through with full legalization of property and asset acquisition in country. Often owners wish to remain hidden and transactions are done through intermediaries and sometime with “tax optimized” funds. BIG mistake. What will you do if a country has change of government, or worse yet the place where your company does business become’s another country (Crimea is just one of many examples of such transformations over the last 25 years.)  Use reputable lawyers both in the US and locally. Spend a bit extra upfront and have a piece of mind later on.

BUY INSURANCE!

In addition to commonly used freight insurance used by exporters, three specialized kinds of insurance are available to protect US companies and their employees venturing abroad:

Political risk insurance (PRI) – covers investors from such perils as political upheaval, currency inconvertibility and expropriation, creeping expropriation or nationalization of their assets. This type insurance also protects franchisors from loss of their royalty streams and protects contractors who are building international projects. Many private companies offer PRI, but OPIC – a federal agency tasked with financing and insuring American cos.’ investments abroad offers the most comprehensive and flexible policies for the money. MIGA – a unit of World bank is another potent source of PRI. Coverage is open in about 150 countries and we recommend it to all our clients venturing abroad.

It is important to consider PRI at the very early stages of the planned international investment or franchising process. Underwriting process is similar to that of a traditional loan and takes a few months.

Export credit insurance (ECI) – covers exporters from the risk of non-payment by the foreign buyers whether due from financial or political causes. It allows exporters to vastly expand their intentional business by offering open account sales with terms of up to 180 days. ECI policies range from an umbrella type of insurance covering multiple buyers to an individually tailored, albeit more expensive, single buyer coverage. Underwriting for ECI policies depends on the size of the proposed transactions and usually takes 1-2 weeks. ECI is offered through a number of private insurance carries and through the Export Import Bank of The United States (US Ex-Im).

Travel Medical Insurance (TMI) – covers business travelers against illness or injuries while traveling abroad. This type of coverage either permits subsidized or free treatment at authorized local doctors and hospitals, or when needed, allows for MEDEVAC evacuation to safe jurisdictions in case of serious injury

Fluent In Foreign Academy puts a series of bi-weekly educational webinars on selecting the right PRI, TMI and ECI solutions. To register for the upcoming sessions, please complete the form below:

International business is often very profitable and exciting, but events like the Crimean crisis remind of the perils and should force each and every one of us doing business abroad to reassess and augment our risk mitigation strategies and procedures.

Please email me with any questions you may have about making your company better prepared to deal with international crises – agordin@broadstreetcap.com

FI3Indices

The New Future for American Coal: Export It

Consol Energy Shipped 10 Million Tons Through Baltimore Facility; The ‘Million Dollar Mile’ Train

Consol’s Baltimore terminal, where coal is unloaded from rail cars and put on cargo ships, is the only one wholly owned by a coal company. Greg Kahn/GRAIN for The Wall Street Journal

BALTIMORE—For Consol Energy Inc., CNX -0.42% a key to profiting from its coal is the sprawling terminal more than 200 miles from its mines on the Chesapeake Bay.

At 8:20 on a recent morning, a ship loaded with 134,000 tons of the combustible black rocks embarked from the terminal and headed to South Korea, where they will be fed into blast furnaces belonging to Posco005490.SE +0.35% the world’s fifth largest steelmaker.

At noon the same day, a second ship with 30,000 tons of coal headed for a mill in Brazil owned by ArcelorMittalMT -0.13% the world’s top steelmaker, while crews on the ground unloaded rail cars filled with coal destined for Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. 5401.TO -2.17%

As environmental restrictions and abundant natural gas reduce coal consumption at home, exports have become more important for U.S. mining companies. U.S. coal shipments outside the country in 2014 are expected to surpass 100 million tons for the third year, a record string. A high level of exports helps keep the domestic supply in line with demand and helps prevent U.S. prices from tanking.

“Exports are growing more essential by the moment, particularly for central Appalachian operations,” says Ted Pile, a spokesman for Alpha Natural Resources Inc. ANR -1.33%

Last month, Bristol, Va.-based Alpha opened a London office in response to demand from Europe, which is weaning itself from nuclear power and installing more pollution-control mechanisms on power plants. In 2013, the top foreign buyer of American coal was the U.K.

Still, relying on exports is risky. While averting a glut at home, U.S. exports feed into a world market that is oversupplied, depressing global prices.

The prices for benchmark thermal coal, which is used by utilities, have declined over the past three years to around $80 a ton from more than $130. The U.S. coal industry also has a difficult time competing with Indonesia, Australia and Russia, which are closer to key Asian markets.

Shipping coal from a U.S. mine to a customer in Asia adds $50 to the per-ton price, including truck, rail and freighter costs. Australian producers can get coal from their mines to China and other Asian markets for half that.

As a result, U.S. producers are focusing their efforts on markets that are closer, such as Europe and Brazil, and some Asian steel markets, where demand is strong, rather than China. Indeed, while U.S. coal exports to China fell 15.4% in 2013, they increased 12.8% to the Netherlands and 8.3% to Germany,

Last year, Consol, which began mining coal more than a century ago, sold off five mines, the source of about half its coal production, but it kept the most profitable mines, including one that just completed an $800 million expansion.

The plan is to export much of the extra coal—most of it high-quality metallurgical coal for steelmakers—through the Baltimore terminal, which is the only one wholly owned by a coal company. Other coal companies pay fees to Consol to use the terminal for exports. Last year, 30% of the 10 million tons exported from the terminal belonged to Rosebud Mining Inc., and this year Murray Energy Corp., which bought five mines from Consol, will also start using the terminal. The companies, which didn’t return calls seeking comment, will have to pay between $4 and $8 a ton, according to analysts.

The Terminal “is Consol’s magic bullet,” says Bob Hodge, a coal analyst at IHS Energy. Consol’s 15 million tons a year of capacity, he adds, means the company can boost exports sharply if needed, removing excess coal from the market and keeping prices in the U.S. firm.

Thirty percent of the 28.5 million tons Consol produced last year was exported, three times the amount a decade ago. Last year’s levels, while high, were below 2012’s. Total exports from the terminal fell 20% in 2013 from year-earlier levels.

But analysts expect the export market to be profitable in the long term, saying coal will remain the dominant fuel source globally in spite of environmental concerns.

“There are two billion people in Asia who need more power, so eventually more U.S. coal will get onto global markets,” says Matt Preston, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie.

The Baltimore facility, where coal is unloaded from rail cars and put on cargo ships, was built on a cargo-pier site in 1984. It takes two to three days for the black rock, packed in trains 130 cars long, each carrying 100 tons, to travel from mines in Southwestern Pennsylvania to the port. The trains often travel under Baltimore, passing close to Babe Ruth’s birthplace near Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and emerging at the terminal across the harbor from Fort McHenry.

Consol employees call a long coal train a “million dollar mile,” a reference to the cargo’s total value at current prices.

In the winter, the coal must be thawed by heaters to keep it from sticking to the bottoms of the rail cars, which are flipped upside down by a $9 million “dumper.” After the coal is unloaded into a 30-acre central oval area, bulldozers drive over the football-field-sized pile to tamp it down, reducing dust and preventing it from sliding into other piles. The oval can hold a million tons of coal, which can be valued at more than $60 million and is enough to make 500,000 tons of steel a year.

The only other coal terminals on the East Coast, one in Baltimore and three in Virginia, are owned, often jointly, by rail lines like CSX Corp. CSX -0.66% and Norfolk SouthernCorp. NSC +0.66% , coal companies like Alpha, Arch Coal Inc. ACI 0.00% andPeabody Energy Corp. BTU -0.82% or logistics companies, which also own a handful of other terminals on the Gulf of Mexico. Three West Coast coal terminals, proposed for Oregon and Washington, have been delayed because of environmental concerns about global greenhouse-gas emissions.

ArcelorMittal’s mill in Tubaruo, Brazil, which makes more than seven million tons of steel a year, regularly buys coal from Consol even though the Luxembourg-based firm owns coal mines in the U.S., Russia and Kazakhstan and has 318 million tons of coal reserves.

Bill Steers, a spokesman for the steelmaker, says its U.S. mines provide coal for mills in Indiana and other U.S. locations but don’t normally ship to Brazil. One reason: The coal from Consol is a good deal because the miner owns the terminal and can provide better shipping rates. “We make purchasing decisions based on price and quality, regardless of where it comes from,” Mr. Steers says.

Consol says it won’t ship coal unless it has a buyer. “A few years ago, we let a couple ships go without a market and that didn’t work out so well for us,” says James McCaffrey, Consol’s vice president for energy marketing.

Moving coal out of the U.S. market cuts domestic supply and helps Consol get better prices in the U.S., says Mr. McCaffrey. “We don’t want to manipulate prices,” he adds. “We do that to get the best returns for our shareholders and to be strategic in our marketing.”

Environmentalists say they worry about a coal-export terminal that’s so close to a major harbor and generates coal dust. “From mine to rail to port, coal is a dirty fossil fuel,” says Diana Dascalu-Joffe of Chesapeake Climate Action.

Consol says it controls the dust with water and bulldozers. It also says it pumps water out of pools and puddles that form between coal piles and discharges it into the harbor after it’s certified clean.

Write to John W. Miller at john.miller@wsj.com

2013 US EXPORTS VALUED AT A RECORD $2.3 TRILLION

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Washington, DC – The US has set another annual record for the fourth consecutive year by exporting $2.3 trillion in goods and services in 2013, according to data just released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the US Commerce Department.

In December, the US exported $191.3 billion of goods and services with the data also showing that US-generated export sales directly and indirectly supported nearly 10 million American jobs last year. in 2013.

Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $2.3 trillion, which is 44.0 percent above the level of exports five years ago. During the same timeframe, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 9.5 percent when compared to 2009.

Among the major export markets – markets with at least $6 billion in annual imports of US-made goods – the countries with the largest annualized increase in US goods purchases, when compared to 2009, were Panama (25.9 percent), Russia (20.3 percent), Peru (19.6 percent), Hong Kong (19.2 percent), and the United Arab Emirates (19.1 percent).

Also on the list were Colombia (18.5 percent), Chile (17.1 percent), Ecuador (16.8 percent), Argentina (16.3 percent), and Indonesia (15.5 percent).

Source GlobalTradeMagazine

When introducing sanctions, it is important not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

308fbb9Over the last week and a half, the crisis in Crimea, Ukraine has riveted the world’s attention and has caused US, EU, Canada and Russia to cross diplomatic swords over the issue. The situation is akin to that of a propane gas being allowed to fill an enclosed room and several sides involved playing with lighters nearby, but hoping the sparks generated as the result will not  trigger a massive explosion.

Although there exists an absolutely clear diplomatic solution, which I think will be achieved in this situation barring any potential military flare up triggered by some sort of a local  incident that spins out of control, the US has taken an approach of the stick over the carrot to try and resolve the crisis, or to at least to get the parties into a meaningful diplomatic discussion.

Sanctions are a viable political tool, which have proven effective in multiple situations (think Iran, Cuba, Lybia, the Soviet Union). Mild sanctions, like the ones announced by President Obama on Thursday, are designed to try and force parties to the negotiations table and presumably have the specific parties against whom the actions are introduced, lobby their government for reprieve and certain acquiescence during the negotiation process. Yet even mild sanctions will trigger what Russia calls an asymmetrical response that will likely sting the imposing side. The response and the low effect of the original sanctions are likely to trigger imposition of even stronger economic and political sanction by the US and Canada(note EU has thus far carefully abstained from getting involved in this). The problem with using strong sanctions against Russia today, is that over the last two and half decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been a tremendous fusion of economic, business, political, personal and cultural interests between Russia and US and certainly between  EU, Canada and Russia.  Thus almost inevitably, introduction of any meaningful sanctions will result in unintended collateral damage and will inflict meaningful pain on the businesses, individuals and cultural institutions of the country imposing the sanctions.

Lets look at some examples of collateral effects on the US economy :

  • Asymmetrical response being considered by Russia will allow the Russian government to randomly seize US assets of companies and individuals operating in Russia. Not only this threatens real economic well-being of multiple US companies and expatriates there, but has potential to cripple direct foreign investment for years to come. Ditto for US real estate sector,franchising sector, financial markets and factories, as well as  business purchased by Russian individuals in the US. This will result in the loss of business and tax revenues. Billions of dollars in lost economic effect are at stake.
  • US exporters, manufacturers, freight forwards and shippers are at risk of losing hundreds of million of dollars in revenue and thousands of American jobs will be affected if trade restrictions are imposed by the State Department, or by the Russian authorities.
  • US hospitality industry and retail sector will be effected by the visa restrictions and will lose millions in revenues from the visiting and free spending Russian tourists.
  • Educational institutions, sports and entertainment arenas will be affected by the patriotic backlash, lost revenue and lost opportunity for cross-cultural diplomacy, should sanctions be introduced. Even though in 1980, when US boycotted the Moscow Olympics, it was much simpler to contain the collateral damage due to an isolated nature of the Soviet regime, the effect on athletes, as well as economic and political fallout still were substantial. Today it would be an order of magnitude worse.
  • Politically, critical issues where US and Russia cooperate – counterterrorism, containment of Iran nuclear proliferation, removal of chemical weapons in Syria, will be affected to the detriment of both sides and our allies.

Strong sanctions definitely have a place in resolving geopolitical crises, but they should be the option of the next to last resort, imposed before military action is invoked, and at no other time. A credible diplomatic solution for the Crimean crisis is available and needs to be pursued in earnest, otherwise introducing sanctions into highly intertwined relationship between Russia and its Western counterparts risks throwing out the baby with the bath water and cause more problems than it will solve.

A businessman’s opinion on the events in Crimea and what Ukraine, Russia, US, EU should do

Ukraine - Proprietary Fi180 Country Profile - page 1 of 4The world’s news have exploded over the last few days with Russia’s ostensible invasion of Crimea snubbing its nose at the Ukraine’s newly elected government and largely ignoring threats from the US and EU. It could lead to a disaster of epic proportions (I am even afraid to think, never mind utter words WWIII out loud), yet I dare to say none of the parties involved wants a war and there IS a way out of this mess.

What qualifies me to write this article? I have done uninterrupted business in Russia, Ukraine and multiple countries in Eastern and Central Europe/Central Asia over the last twenty-four years. I have also worked closely with all three Trade and Development Agencies of the US Government, with the Department of Commerce, as well as with senior government officials of several Eastern European  and Central Asian countries and have come to understand the geopolitical forces tugging at the region. I have been on official US Government Trade Missions to Georgia right after the war with Russia, and to Crimea. I worked as part of UNDP’s outreach to Belarus and managed an US public company with interests in Moldova. Although, I try to stay away from politics, business and politics in that region are inextricably linked, so I will offer my thoughts of what needs to happen in order for the ongoing crisis not to turn into a disaster.

REFOCUS ON WHAT ARE THE UNDERLYING INTERESTS OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE CONFLICT

Let’s call a spade a spade. For the Western world to try and embarrass Russia by putting democracies in its back yard creates a source of perennial irritation. US never liked having a Communist country 90 miles off its shores, why would we for a moment assume that having the West back Georgia, Moldova, or Ukraine would bring joy and comfort to the Russian leadership?

It is Putin’s interest to have Ukraine come into Russia’s sphere of influence, OR AT LEAST NOT ALLOW the country to fall into under the Western control.

The West’s interest is to have Ukraine come into its sphere of influence (EU, NATO),  OR AT LEAST have it remain democratic and territorially whole without the west having to engage militarily.

So how do all sides get what they want?

LET UKRAINE BE!

Both sides should immediately agree to leave Ukraine alone and STOP pulling it into their respective orbits. Ukraine under its second president Kuchma has been able to masterfully balance the interests of both forces, while remaining independent and prospering economically. The same thing should take place now. Let business and economics be the drivers and the free market will work to balance respective interests out. ALL sides should stop stoking the separatist tensions and agree to STOP pulling Independent Ukraine into their respective orbits. The country is large enough and rich enough and can certainly regain its rightful place in the geopolitical arena.

JOINTLY ADDRESS UKRAINE’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND FOCUS ON REBUILDING THE COUNTRY

Simultaneously, BOTH US/EU block and RUSSIA should provide joint economic aid to Ukraine to let it come out of the economic liquidity crisis, which resulted as result of looting and mismanagement by the previous administration.  Tit for tat response should be moved from the missile offensive to the economic aid arena. Each side (EU, Us, Russia) should commit $15 billion and that would total to $45 billion in badly needed economic aid for Ukraine.  Let the country rebuild itself, as the economic stakes are enormous. Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Cargill, EBRD, Franklin Templeton have billions committed in direct investment, as do EU countries and Russia which have massive equity stakes or interests in the oil gas, aerospace, agriculture, coal extraction, retail and telecom sectors.  US end European Exporters have billions at stake from losing Ukrainian markets for agricultural, extraction and production equipment. Ukrainian steel, pipe and agricultural producers have vast market opportunities in Russia, EU and Asian countries.  Undermining their ability to export will further choke off much needed tax revenues and foreign currency inflows.

CHANGE THE GAME

Although I foresee a possibility of NATO putting an aircraft carrier group in Bosphorus to block exit from the Black sea, or have its own military exercises somewhere, let’s say in Poland, as a show of counter force to the Russian troop deployment, US and its allies need to refocus the entire game plan. Going toe to toe and engaging militarily is a losing proposition. Both sides should agree to a stalemate, have Russia pull the troops out and proceed along the non-interfeence policy. At the same time Russia and US should refocus their cooperation in areas where common ground exists between them: preventing nuclear weapons in Iran, stopping spread of radical terrorism globally, deepening trade and economic ties between them.  The way things are going right now, Putin is playing chess, while the West is playing checkers. Both sides need to start playing Monopoly and stop antagonizing each other.

Sounds simplistic? Not really, yet very difficult to implement. However, if the basic tenants and philosophies similar to the ones outlined herein are adopted by all sides involved, a peaceful resolution is very very possible given the fact that over the last 25 years there has been tremendous  fusion of assets, people and cross-border economic and cultural ties between Russia, US, EU and Ukraine.  Let the cooler heads prevail.

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