global economy

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China vs. the United States

A Popularity Contest in the Global Court of Public Opinion

Economic Power

The two superpowers went head-to-head in a worldwide survey, recently published by the Pew Research Center. Comparisons in the survey included perceptions of global image, world power, ways of doing business, popular culture, political views, individual rights, science and military threat, among others.

Based on the survey, the Pew Report identified the following general global opinions:*

Strong Ties with US or China

China’s economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world’s dominant superpower.

  • Overall, the U.S. enjoys a stronger global image than China.
  • Globally, people are more likely to consider the U.S. a partner to their country than to see China in this way, although relatively few think of either nation as an enemy.
  • The military power of both nations worries many.
  • China’s growing military strength is viewed with trepidation in neighboring Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.
  • Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes faces broad opposition – half or more in 31 of 39 countries disapprove of U.S. drone attacks against extremist groups.
  • Across the nations surveyed, a median of 70% say the American government respects the personal freedoms of its people. In contrast, a median of only 36% say this about China.

US consider your interestsChina consider your interests

Not surprisingly, attitudes towards the U.S. and China varied significantly by region:

  • In Europe, the U.S. gets mostly positive ratings. President Barack Obama has been consistently popular among Europeans, and since he took office in 2009, Obama’s popularity has given America’s image a significant boost in the region.
  • European perceptions of China are much less positive – among the eight European Union nations polled, Greece is the only one in which a majority expresses a favorable view of China.
  • Moreover, ratings for China have declined significantly over the last two years in a number of EU countries, including Britain, France, Poland and Spain.
  • America’s image is the most negative in parts of the Muslim world, especially Pakistan (11% favorable), Jordan (14%), Egypt (16%), and the Palestinian territories (16%). Only 21% of Turks see the U.S. positively, although this is actually a slight improvement from last year’s 15%.
  • But the Muslim world is hardly monolithic, and America receives largely positive ratings in predominantly Muslim nations such as Senegal in West Africa and Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia.
  • Elsewhere in the Asia/Pacific region, the U.S. receives particularly favorable reviews in the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.
  • Chinese investment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa has increased significantly over the past decade, and views toward China are largely positive in both regions.
  • Attitudes toward the U.S. also tend to be favorable, and overall the U.S. receives slightly higher ratings than China in in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

The survey also finds rising tensions between the American and Chinese publics:

  • Just 37% of Americans express a positive view of China, down from 51% two years ago.
  • Similarly, ratings for the U.S. have plummeted in China – in a 2010 poll conducted a few months after a visit to China by President Obama, 58% had a favorable impression of the U.S., compared with 40% today.
  • Young people in both countries express more positive attitudes about the other, a finding that is part of a broader pattern – in many countries, both the U.S. and China receive more favorable marks from people under age 30.
*Note: Survey conclusions above are quoted verbatim to avoid external  interpretation of the results.

For more details, the full 132-page report may be downloaded from the Pew Research Center at the following link:


The report above is shared courtesy of Ray Hays, Member of Arizona District Export Council.



Exporting to Vietnam – Quick Tips for Smooth Sailing…

Seeking untapped export opportunities? Then take a look at Vietnam.

From the U.S. National Export Initiative (NEI)

Vietnam is a true emerging market, offering ground floor and growing opportunities for U.S. exporters and investors. Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world, expanding at an average of 7.2 percent per year from 2001 to 2010.  Since the 2001 Bilateral Trade Agreement, trade between the U.S. and Vietnam has increased over six-fold, from $2.9 billion in 2002 to $18.6 billion in 2010.  In 2010, U.S. exports to Vietnam grew by 19.8 percent to $3.7 billion.

For more information about Vietnam:

Brought to you by Ray Hays, Member Arizona District Export Council.

Ray Hays serves as an international consultant for businesses that wish to enter new global markets or expand current operations abroad.

Click here for more information on consulting services of Ray Hays.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012

For those of you doing international business, this is a must-read.

The U.S. falls to 5th place, after Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland.

Enjoy… and please let us know your thoughts!

Click here: The Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012

Obama’s American Jobs Act – What it means for U.S. Exports

President Obama plans to create 2 million new jobs within five years by doubling U.S. Exports.

By Ray Hays, http://www.rayhays.com

Good news on the economy? Actually, yes, for U.S. Trade. Yesterday, the Department of Commerce released the following update based on July’s numbers: Today’s report showed that U.S. exports of goods and services in July increased 3.6 percent from June to $178.0 billion. The value of exports in July, as well as the individual export values for goods and services, was the highest on record. 

In his speech last night, President Obama put a spotlight on America’s competitiveness on the world stage. American technology innovation. American manufacturing. American infrastructure development. American education… And, yes, American exports.

Obama proclaimed his vision is that “Made in America” must continue to be a worldwide brand leader. He received a bi-partisan ovation for that part of his  plan. Little to argue on that point, but is it possible in a world where U.S. businesses cannot compete with cheap overseas labor?

I’ll leave the political views to the pundits… Politics aside, Republicans and Democrats both have good ideas on how to increase exports. However, in the real business world, shareholders generally don’t care how you make profits; it’s the financial results that matter.

Yesterday’s report from the Department of Commerce suggests that the U.S. is heading in the right direction.

Can the U.S. double exports and grow jobs over the next five years? The short answer is yes, we can succeed, and we must succeed in growing exports.

First, the U.S. cannot afford to become a second-rate exporter. We have too much vested in the global economy to allow us to fail.

Second, the global economy wants the U.S. to succeed, because the U.S. economy is too big to fail. An unstable U.S. economy means an unstable global economy. That’s why the IMF, the EU and other global players are pleading with Washington to get our economic house in-order.

In a nutshell, U.S. exports equals U.S. jobs. Exports represent 11% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Exports support 10 million U.S. jobs. If the U.S. could double exports in the next five years, we would put millions of Americans back to work. (I will leave the exact calculation to the economist gurus.)

Impossible? Absolutely not. The U.S. achieved this rate of export growth in the 1970s, and with the right focus, we can achieve it again.

Why can I say that confidently? Because I’ve worked with companies that have doubled or tripled their exports in a few years, especially small businesses. My professional opinion is that a focus on helping small businesses to export can make a significant impact on U.S. exports and U.S. jobs.

According to the latest figures from the SBA, small businesses are a big part of U.S. exports. For example, 97.5% of U.S. exporters are small businesses, and they represent 31% of U.S. export value. Small businesses also provide half of the private sector jobs in the U.S. I believe that small businesses have considerable opportunity for improvement and growth in export revenues and export-related jobs.

Many small businesses in the U.S. are willing to export, but they just don’t know how to do it. We need to recruit these potential exporters, train them and assist them in launching into foreign markets.

The advantage of small businesses, it they can make quick decisions and implement an international export strategy, with a tangible revenue impact usually within 3 to 6 months. The only thing they need is some guidance… Their entrepreneurial spirit will take if from there.

If we focus on helping current U.S. small business exporters and identify new small business exporters, here is what I believe the U.S. can realistically achieve:

  • Within three years:
    • Double the number of new small business exporters.
    • Increase small business revenues by 50%
  • Within five years:
    • Triple the number of new small business exporters
    • Double small business export revenues.

Combining small business export support with the organic growth of large business exports, (helped by a weak U.S. dollar), the goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years is quite achievable.

How much is this going to cost U.S. taxpayers? Nothing. Currently, the U.S. has thousands of volunteer executives working with small businesses to help them export. These volunteers are members of the U.S. District Export Council, state trade promotion programs, local chambers of commerce and other non-profit organizations. This volunteer initiative can be expanded with zero tax dollars.

What about the tax dollars spent on export promotion? The fact is that U.S. export promotion is run on a shoestring budget, with the collaboration of the U.S. Commercial Service, International Trade Administration, SBA and others agencies. As a business executive, I have used the services of these export programs to generate revenues for U.S. companies and more jobs for U.S. workers.

Export promotion has a multiplier effect because it is a collaborative effort among government agencies, business and individual volunteers. By my estimate (which could be debated), for every tax dollar spent on export promotion generates five to ten times their value in direct and indirect revenue. Export growth results in more business revenues, more U.S. jobs and a healthier economy.

My personal opinion is that export promotion provides a significant return on investment because it is a revenue generator, which very few government programs can claim. I would feel 100% confident in putting more tax money toward export promotion.

That said, I also understand and respect the view that government programs need to run more efficiently, and throwing money at a problem is not the best solution. Perhaps with better measurement of return-on-tax dollars, these programs will merit their fair share of federal and state budgets.

It is good that the issue of export promotion is in the spotlight. Let’s hope that Washington can agree on a strategy that will produce tangible results. Meanwhile, I will continue to do my part, working with like-minded international executives, to help small businesses grow their export revenues and put America back to work.

For more information on the District Export Council and other exporting resources, please see the links on my blog.

Watch for my future articles:

  • Is China eating away at American brand equity?
  • The National Export Initiative – What’s the plan to grow U.S. exports and U.S. jobs?
Copyright 2011, Ray Hays. All rights reserved

Small Businesses of the World Unite!

….We have nothing to lose but our chains!  

A Small Business Manifesto by Ray Hays, www.rayhays.com  

Bottom line, it’s up to small businesses to save the world. Big business, financial markets and politicians have lost touch with the common man.  

They’ve also lost touch with reality. They worship false deities – mysterious and faceless entities, with names like DOW, S&P, DAX and Hang Seng. When the financial gods become angry, the politicians and Central Banks attempt to appease them through complex rituals in which they manipulate magic potions with names like the debt ceiling, interest rates, financial regulation, fiscal policy, money supply and stabilization programs. They posture and debate how these potions should be mixed, while the world’s economy sits on the brink, awaiting some miracle to emerge from the voodoo fog bank. 

So what can we do as small business owners? 

For one thing, spend more time working on your business and less time worrying about the economy. It seems that the only certain thing in the financial markets is uncertainty.  Over the past week, we’ve heard it on the news ad-nauseam: “The market shows signs of uncertainty.” Really? What the heck does that mean? Just tell me how I can retrieve my retirement account as it swirls down the toilet. 

Then some talking head comes on the TV screen and explains that the uncertainty might be attributed to unemployment indicators… or the debt ceiling… or the Standard and Riches credit rating… or rumors that a camel passed gas in Oman. 

We stand back and scratch our heads, inwardly embarrassed that — despite our years of business experience, and regardless of our academic pedigrees — we have no clue what they’re talking about. Join the club of ignorant masses. Unless you are one of the minions in the financial markets, you are probably mystified by the swirling market forces that shape the destiny of the global economy. 

However, in the real world, business is not about some abstract financial benchmark or macroeconomic policy. As small business owners, we know that business is about people: our employees, our customers and our community. It’s about hard work and good management. It’s about simple concepts, like sales, costs and profits. 

Who will be our economic savior from the economic winds of uncertainty?

Politicians? Stock market gurus? Central Banks? The banking sector? The real estate sector? Multinational corporations? China? God? Superman? … Superheroes aside, I would place my bet on the small business sector.

 Look at it historically. Prior to the industrial revolution, small businesses represented the heart of economic development in most countries. Before the days of “big business” and the stock market, small entrepreneurs built the foundation on which the industrial and financial giants of today stand.

However, today, big business and politicians are tied to the hip with global financial markets. (Or is it vice-versa?) Comparatively, small businesses have significantly more freedom and leeway from the market. Sure, small businesses are impacted by global market forces, including inflation, interest rates, labor costs, fuel prices, etc.  Sure, economic downturns destroyed many small businesses, which were defenseless to the onslaught.

Yet small businesses are more nimble than their large brethren. We can adjust more quickly to market risks or opportunities. A small business can re-brand in a week, whereas it takes United and Continental Airlines over a year. We can completely change our business strategy without worrying about the perception of shareholders and our stock price on Wall Street.

That said, increasingly small businesses are burdened with chains of the global economy, which prevent us from change and strip us of our independence.

It’s time to take control of our destinies. Long Live the Small Business Revolution!

Yes, small businesses DO have the power to change the global economy. Let’s take the example of the U.S. market. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses (fewer than 500 employees):

    • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
    • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
    • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
    • Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
    • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
    • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
    • Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
    • Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
    • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

Definitions and perceptions on small businesses vary. For example, in Europe a small business is identified as fewer than 50 employees compared to 500 employees in the U.S.  Some consumers perceive franchises as “big business chains” that kill off small business competitors. In reality, a significant majority of franchisees are small businesses that are locally owned. In terms of franchisors (the franchise headquarter companies), the majority of them are also small businesses. The big players, such as McDonald’s and UPS, are more the exception than the norm.

Definitions aside, small businesses play a critical role in the worldwide economy. Think about it this way. If the small business sector could add 10% more jobs, the U.S. economy would erase the rise in unemployment since 2008, which improves consumer spending, which grows retail sales, etc. In short, shifts in the small business sector can make a big impact on the world economy.

Okay, I’m on-board with the small business revolution. What’s our goal?

Break the chains of the financial markets!  What are the chains that shackle our small businesses?

Big government or a big business clients – If more than 25% of the revenue of your small business comes from on government or big business, you are chained to the market.

Big business vendors or suppliers – If your business relies on big businesses suppliers, you are chained to the market.

Big banks – If your small business is dependent on large banks – for small business loans, etc. – then you are chained to the market.

Financial services – If your small business is in a sector that deals with financial services or commodities, you are chained to the market.

Real estate – If the health of your business is impacted by booms or busts in the real estate market, you are chained to the market.

“Discretionary” consumer products and services – If your revenues comes from non-essential products and services that are subject to discretionary income, you are chained to the market.

Which chains weigh down your business? How heavy are they?

Realistically, most small businesses will always be connected to the market to some degree. As a small business owner, what chains can you break and what chains can you weaken? How can you minimize your dependence and exposure to big business and financial markets? Possible solutions include:

Completely reinvent your business – If you are in real estate or financial services, either get out of the business or diversify into other sectors. Ask yourself:  If I were not in real estate or financial services, what other business would appeal to me? Don’t wait. Start building your business life boat now.

Introduce new products and services – Ask yourself what new, innovative products and services you could introduce, which are recession-proof? For example, if you own a catering company, you could begin to sell affordable school lunch packages for kids.

Replace your big business and government customers with small business customers – Ask yourself, if my big customers disappeared tomorrow, what other types of small businesses could I service? This may require changes to your products and services, as well as changes to your strategy of marketing and sales. Don’t wait for those big clients to disappear. Do it now!

Replace your big business vendors with small business vendors – This may be difficult, and it may cost you more money, but ask yourself: As a customer, am I more valuable to a big vendor or a small vendor? A small vendor is more likely to provide you with personalized service, they are more likely to refer clients to you, and they are more vested in the success of your business. Is that worth paying a premium for the product? In most cases, the answer is “yes.” Most importantly, you will help another small business owner to break their chains to the market.

Cut out the big company middle man – One advantage of the global economy is that small businesses are better able to simplify their supply chain. Ask yourself: Why can’t I just go to the source for products? For example, if you sell uniforms that are made in China, do you really need to purchase through a large distributor? Why not work directly with a small manufacturer in China? Again, you will have more control over your supply, better leverage and in some cases, better pricing.   Tip: If you have no idea of how to import, you may wish to engage an international business consultant to help you identify overseas suppliers, and engage a small, licensed customs broker to manage the import process for you.

Replace your big bank with a small bank – Like all small businesses, small banks are more flexible than big banks. Small banks are hungry for your business, and relatively speaking, your small business will be a much larger client to them.

Hire more employees – During a downturn, fear of “uncertainty in the market” prevents small business owners from hiring. Step back and evaluate your values as an employer and the mission of your company. Do you believe that your employees are your most important asset? Many good employees are on the market today. If you add two or three… or ten “top-performers” to your team, what would this do for your operational capacity or your sales growth? How can do your part to reduce unemployment and still prosper as a business?

Entrepreneurship, innovation, customer service, employee loyalty, family values…  These are the enduring hallmarks of a successful small business. With these values in-mind, it’s time to level the playing field and allow small businesses to chart their own destinies.

Now, small business revolutionaries… Go forth and save the global economy!

Article Copyright © Ray Hays 2011 All Rights Reserved. Electronic distribution is permitted with citation of author’s name.