Friday, August 2, 2013 by
Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) Chairman Fred Hochberg highlighted the important role his agency plays in supporting U.S. exporters in a speech to the Center for American Progress (CAP) this week. In the process, he also rebutted the philosophical arguments against renewing the Bank's charter, which have become newly resurgent among conservatives in Congress.
On its surface, Ex-Im would seem to be an agency that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle could support. The bank operates independently, fills in gaps in private export financing, breaking records for both total authorizations and small-business export sales in Fiscal Year 2012, and, most importantly, turns a profit for the American taxpayer, generating $1.6 billion since Fiscal Year 2008.
But free market advocates have long argued that Ex-Im should be shuttered, and their case against the bank has recently entered the political mainstream. For example, in a May hearing, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) voiced concerns that Ex-Im exists only to provide "welfare to some of America's largest corporations."
Crapo was also one of 19 republicans to vote against the reauthorization of Ex-Im's charter in 2012, an ongoing effort driven by fiscally conservative groups like the Club for Growth that most recently manifested itself in a push to block Hochberg's approval for another term as Ex-Im chairman. Hochberg was saved by an 11th hour Senate deal on filibuster reform, but had he not been approved by July 20, Ex-Im wouldn't have had the three-board-member quorum its charter requires to approve transactions, and therefore would've been forced to shut down.
In his remarks to CAP, delivered in conjunction with Ex-Im's release of its annual Competitiveness Report, Hochberg focused on the threats facing U.S. exporters abroad, particularly from the increasingly aggressive policies of some of the United States' biggest competitors. "In this year’s competitiveness report, we found that China, Korea, Japan and others are ramping up government export support," Hochberg said. "Yet, here at home, Congress has required the Treasury Department to begin negotiations with our competitors to end export credits. To end export credits when our competitors are playing by a completely different set of rules…this would be a self-inflicted wound our economy cannot sustain."
Ex-Im's Competitiveness Report found that U.S. exporters often compete in markets and sectors that other countries have targeted as a "national interest," making them the focus of policies designed to maximize the flow of benefits to the state and making it harder for U.S. exporters to compete with foreign companies receiving state-backed sweetheart export financing deals. Moreover, the Report argued that financing is increasingly being offered outside of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines, expanding beyond low interest rates to include loan arrangements aimed at attracting buyers.
Exporters worldwide have also been forced to contend with a decline in commercial bank capacity and appetite for trade financing, placing a greater burden on state-affiliated export credit agencies like Ex-Im. "Make no mistake, foreign governments would love to see Ex-Im go out of business and swoop in and snatch the $50 billion worth of exports we financed last year. They would love to have those 255,000 American jobs for themselves," Hochberg warned. "Failing to reauthorize our charter next year is a particularly bad idea in light of the growth of the global middle class and the unprecedented competition America faces from Asia and Russia, among many others."
A full copy of Ex-Im's Competitiveness Report is available here.
- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer
Thursday, July 25, 2013 by
Senators struck a deal to stop the ongoing filibuster of President Barack Obama's executive branch nominees last week, cleared the way for Fred Hochberg's confirmation as chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank. Had the Senate not confirmed Hochberg by July 20, the bank would not have had a quorum to approve transactions, and therefore would not have been able to function as vibrantly as it has over the last several years.
Until last week, the Republican Senate minority had been holding up a number of President Obama's nominations for various agencies with the hope that by doing so they could extract concessions from the Senate Democratic majority. Among the most contentious targets of the filibuster was Obama's nomination of Richard Cordray to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act whose very existence is anathema to GOP.
Republicans had hoped to trade approval of Cordray's nomination, among others, for drastic changes to agencies and laws they opposed, but Democrats wouldn't budge. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" in order to allow nominees to be approved with a simple majority vote, rather than with the 60-vote threshold typically required by Senate procedure, but the bipartisan deal struck last week allows the GOP to continue filibustering future nominees, so long as they drop their filibuster on seven of the President's nominees, Cordray and Hochberg among them.
Hochberg's nomination wasn't nearly as controversial as Cordray's, as Ex-Im is a self-funding agency that remains far less noxious to the Republican Party than the CFPB, but its continued delay certainly posed a more imminent threat to the U.S. export economy. "Over the past four years, Ex-Im Bank's financing has supported nearly one million American jobs and helped thousands of small businesses expand their reach into international markets," Hochberg said upon his confirmation. "The Bank also delivered more than $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury during this period at no cost to American taxpayers."
- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer
Thursday, May 9, 2013 by
The Finance, Credit and International Business Association (FCIB) is already an important global source of exporting education and professional networking. Now, however, the association is expanding to become a portal through which exporters of all sizes can find the tools and resources they need to effectively grow their business through international trade.
Most recently, at the Port of Los Angeles' Trade Connect seminar held on May 8, FCIB, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration (ITA), unveiled the first-ever Spanish-language edition of the ITA's Trade Finance Guide. FCIB member Diego Jiménez, ICCE, credit analyst at Accuride International, Inc., was instrumental in the review of the translated guide, as well as to the program of this week's Trade Connect seminar. Another FCIB member, Timothy Bastian, ICCE, corporate credit manager for Western Oilfields Supply Company, also presented a session at the event.
The announcement came on the heels of FCIB and ITA signing a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) in order to increase awareness in the U.S. business community, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses, of the opportunities offered by exporting, as well as the tools and resources available to companies through the two organizations. The MOU builds on previous collaborations between FCIB and ITA, beginning with the drafting of the original Trade Finance Guide, its subsequent updates and now its first Spanish-language edition.
“By working together, FCIB and ITA are making it easier for all U.S. companies to take advantage of the exporting opportunities offered around the globe," said FCIB's Director–Americas Marta Chacon, CICP. "The Trade Finance Guide, which is now in its third edition and is now available to Spanish-speaking business owners, is only the first step in what will be a long line of collaborations geared toward unlocking world markets for businesses of all sizes."
Through the MOU and updated Trade Finance Guide, FCIB is becoming more deeply ingrained in the policy goals outlined in President Barack Obama's National Exporting Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014. FCIB's partnership with ITA puts them in good company with the U.S. Commercial Service's other strategic partners and will enable the association to better support the goals of the NEI by educating U.S. businesses about the benefits of exporting and directing them to the wealth of public and private resources available to assist them.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 by
The Finance, Credit and International Business Association (FCIB) and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to increase awareness in the U.S. business community, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses, about exporting and the tools and resources our organizations provide to help them succeed.
“We’re pleased to welcome FCIB as a partner in our efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy and support local jobs through expanding U.S. exports,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “With more than 95 percent of potential customers living outside U.S. borders, it’s imperative that American companies of all sizes consider the benefits of selling their products abroad.”
The MOU builds on previous collaborations between FCIB and ITA, including the development of the third edition of ITA’s Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters and a first-ever Spanish-language version of the guide, available soon. Written in plain and easily understood language, the Trade Finance Guide provides exporters of all sizes with what they need to know in order to use exports to grow their business.
“By working together, FCIB and ITA are making it easier for all U.S. companies to take advantage of the exporting opportunities offered around the globe. The Trade Finance Guide, which is now in its third edition and will soon be available to Spanish-speaking business owners, was only the first step in what will be a long line of collaborations geared toward unlocking world markets for businesses of all sizes,” said FCIB’s Director–Americas Marta Chacon, CICP. “FCIB is looking forward to acting as a portal through which exporters can find the tools and resources they need to effectively conduct international trade.”
Under the MOU, FCIB and U.S. Commercial Service’s network of worldwide offices will work together on marketing, education programs and events leveraging both entities’ expertise to help make U.S. businesses—and particularly small and medium-sized firms—more export savvy. Joint activities may include building awareness through outreach at trade shows, direct mail campaigns and online registration for resource support.
In 2010, President Barack Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The partnership supports this goal by educating U.S. exporters about the benefits exporting and expanding their exports to additional markets, and the public and private sector resources to assist them. FCIB joins several of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Strategic Partners who have connected more than 1,500 companies to federal export assistance.
- FCIB and the U.S. Commercial Service
Wednesday, January 2, 2013 by
The U.S. Senate and House finally voted in favor of provisions to avert the long-discussed fiscal cliff that pitted Democrats/the Obama Administration and Republicans against each other on issues including taxes, budget spending and debt.
The last Credit Mangers’ Index (CMI) of 2012 showed a small decline on a drop-off of sales levels. Fiscal cliff uncertainty throughout last month of the year was seen as a significant driver of problems.
Proponents of Chapter 9 (municipal bankruptcy) got a boost in the form of a court decision against a pension group in California and a new law in Michigan easing filing requirementes somewhat.
A deal was struck to push back contract talks for 30 days to avert a late-December port strike that would have affected more than a dozen of the largest East Coast ports at a time when retail could ill afford delays.
India inked a Free Trade Agreement with its fourth largest trading partner, ASEAN (a block of Southeast Asian nations) and remains at work on several bilateral deals.
Exporting levels in Asia improved slightly though the steep decline in the European Union amid the debt crisis looms as a massive concern for exporting nations and businesses there and virtually worldwide.
Tribune Company finally exited bankruptcy.
European Union manufacturing levels declined by levels greater than expected.
Retail bankruptcies among British companies continued to rise for the calendar year 2012.
Russia launched a registry of companies that declare bankruptcy.
U.S. consumer and business confidence continued to slump at year's end.
(Note: For more on several of these stories, check out Thursday’s edition of NACM eNews, available late Thursday afternoon).
-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 by
There’s no way to dress it up nicely: a near $7 billion drop in exports between September and October and a trade deficit significantly exceeding $40 billion is abysmal news for the U.S. economy and its small- and medium-sized businesses. It’s yet one more blow to confidence that new numbers show was already faltering thanks largely to partisan gridlock among federal lawmakers.
The U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis unveiled unsettling trade statistics this week showing total October exports of $180.5 billion and imports of $222.8 billion, a goods and services deficit of $42.2 billion. The revised deficit figure was $40.3 billion in September. The $6.5 billion drop in goods and additional $300 million decreases in services exported for October represents the largest month-to-month total exporting slide since January 2009.
The news should do little for business confidence, which statistics unveiled by the National Federation of Independent Businesses this week before the new trade numbers could even be factored in illustrate is not far from the historically poorest levels. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index dropped 5.6 points in November to a level of 87.5. The monthly index has been lower only seven times since its inception in 1986. And this can’t even be blamed on “Super Storm” Sandy – the East Coast states affected worst by the storm and its aftermath were excluded from this month’s numbers to avoid event-based distortions.
NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg argued: "Washington does not have the needs of small business in mind; between the looming ‘fiscal cliff,’ the promise of higher healthcare costs and the endless onslaught of new regulations, owners have found themselves in a state of pessimism.”
Key categories “Expect Economy to Improve” and one measuring potential for positive “Earning Trends” each declined in excess of 30% in the latest data.
-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 by
As many of you know, FCIB has worked in partnership with the Department of Commerce on many initiatives designed to promote and advance international trade, including the development of the International Credit and Risk Management (ICRM) online course and the International Trade Finance Guide.
Earlier this month at the FCIB Global Conference held in Philadelphia, Carlos Montoulieu, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services Industries in the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), officially released the 3rd edition of the Trade Finance Guide and announced that FCIB will continue to promote the Guide, including producing print copies of the Guide through the Department’s partnership program.
In 2007, FCIB assisted the Commerce Department in the development of this concise guide, designed to help SMEs quickly learn how to choose the most effective and efficient credit mechanism when selling cross border. Subsequently, in recognition of its contribution to the Guide’s development and promotion, FCIB was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Under Secretary for International Trade. Since 2007, more than 300,000 copies have been distributed to small and medium size businesses, helping the Guide become a popular export assistance resource.
FCIB is proud to continue to promote this new Guide and FCIB is honored to support the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.
We are confident that this initiative will generate many new business leads for FCIB and NACM, allowing both organizations to advance their missions to assist businesses strengthen their commercial credit operations.
-Robin Schauseil, CAE, NACM President
Monday, November 5, 2012 by
Panama’s rise in prominence continues to catch the eyes of the business and investment worlds. The latest to take note, and take action, was Moody’s Investment Services.
NACM has noted previously Panama’s commitment to massively expanding its well-known and oft-used canal as well as its continued work to break down inter-governmental trade barriers has helped in positioning the small Latin American nation as increasingly prominent. Moody’s Investment Services listed the same among many reasons it raised the government’s credit rating Monday.
“Panama's economy has grown at an average rate of 7.3% during the past 10 years, the highest rate of growth in Latin America and among the highest in the world. Despite weakening external conditions, Panama continued to show remarkable economic dynamism in the first half of 2012,” Moody’s said. “Though recent growth rates are not sustainable, medium-term growth prospects remain strong thanks to the expansion of the Panama Canal, the Martinelli administration's ambitious infrastructure investment plans and the recent ratification of the free trade agreement by the U.S. Congress.” Moody’s added that newfound commitment by Panamanian officials toward gold and copper mining also make the nation attractive from a credit and investment point of view.
This comes less than two months on the heels of the Commerce Department noting that, among major export markets, no nation has seen a larger rise in the purchase of U.S. goods in recent years. To wit, the 36.3% increase since 2009 (through September) bested the second faster riser (Turkey) by nearly 8 percentage points.
Key to watch in the coming months and years will be something else that has been already been on expert market-watchers’ radar: whether the government there can manage growth responsibly and avoid creating troubling fiscal imbalances for the medium- and long-term. It’s something that not-too-distant neighbor Brazil, despite its hot status of recent years, has once again seemed to fail in mastering.
-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer
Thursday, August 23, 2012 by
(Press Release) Pacific Northwest small-and-medium sized business owners will have more opportunities to boost sales through exports because of increased presence by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). Today, at a Global Access for Small Business forum, Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred P. Hochberg and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced the opening of a new Ex-Im Bank office in Seattle, Washington.
This is the third opening of four new regional export finance centers this year by Ex-Im Bank in its effort to assist local businesses in improving their export sales. The center will provide enhanced access to the Bank's products and services, and it will assist local businesses in obtaining export financing to grow foreign sales.
"The Export-Import Bank supports more than 83,000 jobs at more than 100 businesses in Washington state," said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell. "We know that when we become exporters we increase jobs in Washington state. This new office is a tool for Washington businesses to increase exports and sell Washington products around the world."
John Brislin will serve as the Bank's Seattle regional director, and the new office will be located in the U.S. Export Finance Assistance Center at 2001 6th Avenue, Suite 2600 in Seattle, Washington. Potential exporters may call (206) 728-2264 for more information. This year, Ex-Im Bank has opened regional centers in Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Seattle and is scheduled to open an office in Detroit this fall.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 by
It’s been a long, hard-fought trip to the finish line, one wrought with political and labor interests, even though a free trade agreement FTA between the United States and South Korea was forged some five-years ago. But now, barring a threatened yet unlikely veto by South Korea opposition lawmakers, the FTA is set to go into effect in a few weeks.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and South Korean Minister for Trade Park Tae confirmed that the US-South Korea FTA will be fully in play on March 15. The deal's value is estimated at nearly $90 billion. Domestic manufacturers, especially in the automotive and agricultural products industries, stand to gain levels of market access with the Asian trade partner never realized before within said industries. Approval of the FTA with South Korea as well as Panama and Colombia had long been seen as important to boost business for U.S.-based companies feeling the pinch of lower domestic demand. The FTAs, in theory, will significantly expand U.S. exports in those markets, help small businesses and lower tariffs on American goods. The Korean FTA was widely regarded as the most significant of the three new U.S. pacts and will be the first to go into effect.
(Note: More extensive background on the fight to establish the U.S.-South Korean FTA will be featured in this week's NACM eNews, available Thursday afternoon at www.nacm.org).
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 by
In his fourth State of the Union speech last night, President Barack Obama laid out his blueprint for the nation’s economy, starting with manufacturing.
“We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits,” he said. “Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last—an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and a renewal of American values.”
The president also tipped his cap to a recent trend among businesses bringing jobs back from other countries historically thought of as sources of cheap labor. As previously reported
, “insourcing” is now frequently taking the place of “outsourcing.” “We can’t bring every job back that’s left our shore. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive,” said Obama. “A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.”
“So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed,” he added.
Obama went on to suggest tax reforms that would incentivize companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. and relocate to recession-hit communities. Exporting, which figured heavily into last year’s speech, also received a small amount of attention, mostly as the president burnished his credentials and highlighted the success of the past year’s free trade agreements (FTAs).
In essence, the speech focused on the idea of economic fairness. “The debate now will be over what constitutes fair,” said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, PhD. “The speech had very little to do with the current condition of the U.S. and its economy, but that was expected in an election year. The overarching message is that the wealthy should be taxed more.”
“The fundamental issue driving the two sides remains how to deal with the debt at the same time the nation has to expand economic growth,” he added. “Without more revenue, the government can’t sustain current spending. Some would have that spending curtailed further while others assert that austerity is already compromising growth. The reality is that taxation and differing concepts of fairness will be at the heart of the election for the duration.”Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer
Thursday, December 22, 2011 by
The Export-Import Bank of the United States’ (Ex-Im’s) annual report unveiled this week backs up its claims based off of preliminary numbers in October that the group financed more projects, in dollar value, in 2011 than any previous year.
Ex-Im financed $32 billion in projects through the calendar year, marking the third consecutive campaign in which it broke a previous record. In addition, Ex-Im noted small business financing surged again in 2011 and is up by more than 70% over the last three years. Ex-Im’s activity in 2011 was highest in Mexico and India, and is gaining ground quickly thanks in part to massive needs in the energy sector, said Ex-Im sources.
The organization, an independent federal agency pairing U.S. companies and product manufacturers with companies abroad, also considers the following nations as high-opportunity ares going forward for U.S. businesses: Colombia, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa.
During an NACM interview with Ex-Im President and Chairman Fred Hochberg in September, he said, “If you’re not exporting to places like these, you need to get in that game...there’s not a company that exports [properly] that isn’t doing well.”
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by
Amid a surprisingly chaotic scene that puts the U.S. Congress’ bickering to shame, South Korea’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve a U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement (FTA) that has been in the works for some five years.
Though a significant portion of the voter base is against the measure in fear of job losses or economic hits, South Korea’s ruling party called a hasty, surprise Wednesday vote on the FTA, one started during the Bush Administration and signed by President Barack Obama about one month ago. One opposing politician even let off some form of tear gas or pepper spray in parliament’s chambers, reports indicate. The deal’s value is estimated at nearly $90 billion.
After years of languishing and political one-upmanship on both sides of the political aisle, the pact was among three Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) passed by Congress in October. Approval of the FTAs with South Korea, Panama and Colombia has long been seen as important to boost business for U.S.-based companies feeling the pinch of lower domestic demand. The FTAs, in theory, will significantly expand U.S. exports in those markets, help small businesses and lower tariffs on American goods.
Getting the measure through though saw U.S. supporters and opponents alike coming from both political parties as the idea of job protectionism divided lawmakers more on regional lines than the usual partisan ones. In South Korea, the divisions seemed to come from a two groups: big business versus the middle class and working poor. Some paint the deal as more beneficial to the United States and more of a move for the sake of appearances and posturing on the part of Seoul.
The Korean vote was seen as the last significant hurdle to implementation of the FTA, widely regarded as the most significant of the three new U.S. pacts.
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Thursday, October 13, 2011 by
The Export-Import Bank of the United States Reports authorized $32 billion in export financing in FY 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010-Sept. 30, 2011), which supported more than $40 billion worth of exports, according to statistics unveiled Thursday by the organization.
Fred Hochburg, Ex-Im Chairman/President, noted the particular growth in authorizations for small businesses to $6 billion for the year, about double the level posted just three years ago. He said small businesses were a key part of President Barack Obama’s loft goals for exporting through 2014.
“We’re not going to double exports unless we double small business exports,” he said. “We’re leveling the playing field and making sure small companies and large companies can go toe-to-toe with foreign companies, and we do it at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer.”
Hochburg said among other considerable increases in Ex-Im funding was one in the renewable energy sector, up from $30 million three years ago to $720 million in FY2011 for financing for foreign buyers to purchase from U.S. companies in the industry, largely on projects/partnerships in areas of Canada, India and Turkey. Mexico, however, remains the largest national market for Ex-Im authorizations. Columbia grew the most in 2011, a point not lost on Hochburg during a question-and-answer session Thursday, one day after Congress passed a free trade agreement between the Latin nation and the United States among a trio of pacts.
“Of the three, Columbia offers most promise where we [Ex-Im] can play a role,” he told NACM. “There’s a lot of promise, the business community leans forward and it’s right in our back yard.”
Ex-Im authorizations for 2010 of about $24.5 billion, a record until the latest statistics, supported $34.4 billion worth of exports and 227,000 American jobs at more 3,300 U.S. companies.
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Thursday, October 13, 2011 by
After years of languishing and political one-upmanship on both sides of the political aisle, three Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) were passed Wednesday by both houses of Congress and awaits what should be a rapid signature by President Barack Obama.
Approval of the FTAs with South Korea, Panama and Colombia has long been seen as important to boost business for U.S.-based companies feeling the pinch of lower domestic demand. The FTAs, in theory, will significantly expand U.S. exports in those markets, help small businesses and lower tariffs on American goods.
Getting the measure through though has seen supporters and opponents alike coming from both political parties as the idea of job protectionism divided lawmakers more on regional lines than the usual partisan ones.
Obama submitted the nation's three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) to Congress earlier last week amid growing support for the measures. Obama, branded by some in the past as anti-business, has become increasingly pro-exporting and is in the midst of a federal push to double exports within five years.
Congressional leaders have been quick to laud the FTAs’ passage while lamenting the lengthy delay between their creation and their submission for approval. Among reasons for disappointment is that other agreements that, despite being started at a later date, were enacted months before Wednesday’s eventual positive vote. Among them was a European Union deal with South Korea.
Submission of the FTAs by the president was previously contingent on Congress' renewal of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, which trade workers perceived to be negatively affected by international competition. After a pared-down version of the TAA was approved in the Senate, however, the president submitted the agreements to the House, which somewhat begrudgingly followed through on the TAA renewal in addition to the FTAs.
Brian Shappell and Jacob Barron, NACM staff writers
Friday, August 5, 2011 by
The big three U.S.-based credit ratings agencies have been slow, to say the least, in handing out upgrades of credit ratings or outlooks for anyone not included in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) since they were universally lambasted for their poor analysis and risk assessment in the run-up to the global economic downturn. That what makes the late-week gushing over Panama by Moody’s Investment Services all the more noteworthy.
Though leaving the nation’s credit rating unchanged, Moody’s upgraded Panama’s outlook to positive from stable. Perhaps more significant was the agency’s statements lauding Panama’s economic evolution, centered largely on the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project. Said Moody’s, “the Panamanian economy has continued to show remarkable and enduring dynamism, and is well positioned to grow at rates above its potential thanks to the expansion of the Panama Canal and the government's ambitious efforts to improve and modernize the country's infrastructure…Panama continues to be one of the fastest growing and diversified countries in the Baa rated category.”
As discussed in a Selected Topics story in the November/December edition of Business Credit Magazine, the expansion of what had become an antiquated pass-through will allow much larger cargo ships, among other vessels, to travel through canal, opening up much faster and more direct shipping options to and from many ports, especially in the United States. To wit, the biggest benefit to domestic exporters and those abroad is cheaper shipping costs for reasons including less fuel costs because of shorter routes from the biggest ships, the lessened needs for larger ships to stay in ports longer to get a full load and competition largely absent from the market at present. Additionally, the expansion should spur more choice and variety as far as ports that realistically can be used. With an open, expanded canal, ports such as Savannah, New Orleans and Houston become much more important.
Additionally, it expands capabilities of small business exporting efforts routed from the West Coast ports to access emerging economies on the eastern shores of Latin America. This includes the pearl of economies in that part of the world: Brazil. The nation was ranked 10th among nations receiving exports from U.S. companies, taking in $41 billion in products in 2008, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission and a July report from left-leaning Washington think tank the Brookings Institution. And that number is expected to rise among nearly all predictions as Brazil’s growing appetite for products emanating from the transportation equipment industry as well as consumer products aimed at its newly emerging local middle-class and tourists en route there for the 2014 FIFA World Cup (soccer) and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Monday, July 18, 2011 by
Small businesses could face severe regulatory challenges as the U.S. continues its effort to converge its generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The process of creating a singular global accounting standard has been ongoing for several years now, but at a recent roundtable hosted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), no matter how regulators choose to go about imposing the new standard on the nation’s public companies, the smaller of them will face technical and financial difficulty.
“I see no benefit to IFRS at all,” said Shannon Greene, a panelist at the roundtable and chief financial officer and treasurer of Tandy Leather Factory, Inc., a small leather and leatherworking supply company based in Fort Worth, Texas. “All it’s going to do is cost us money.”
Greene noted that while her company is looking to expand internationally, as many other small companies are in a time of booming export opportunities and low domestic demand, there will be no real way to escape the cost of implementing and abiding by the new standard. “I think it’s just going to be painful for a small company,” she noted, adding that while regulators often cite increased comparability as a benefit afforded to companies that switch to IFRS, Tandy Leather Factory’s unique position and industry renders this benefit largely non-existent. “For comparability purposes, we don’t really have any competitors,” said Greene. “I don’t even get the benefit of my financial statements being comparable to someone else’s financial statements for investment purposes, for banking purposes, for capital investment purposes, et cetera.”
“Anytime you ask us to spend money that doesn’t help us sell more product, you get a lot of flak from the senior management team,” she added. “I don’t have anything really positive to say from our company’s perspective. Personally, I get it, but I just can’t see how we get from where we are to where we want to be.”
Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 by
With small business exporting becoming an increasing important element of the majority of U.S. commerce, attendees at NACM’s 2011 Credit Congress in Nashville flocked by the dozens to the first sessions in a series of five on “Doing Business in ___” series hosted by FCIB.
The first of which, “Doing Business in Canada” drew well in excess of 100 people and became one of the first standing room only, so to speak, sessions of Credit Congress this year. Hubert Sibre, of Davis LLP, described Canadian business terms as extremely varied depending on the province. For example, Alberta is considered very liberal from a pro-debtor standpoint, while Quebec is considered much more conservative on matters of business and credit.
Sibre suggested registering one’s business in every province is almost essential because it greatly improves their position to protect intellectual property in Canadian courts, among other things. It also helps to have a subsidiary based there because bankruptcy judgments made in the United States are unenforceable without a Canadian court officially recognizing it.
A subsequent session on South Korea was led by Kyle Choi, Esq. of Bluestone Law Ltd. Choi spoke the various aspects of why the nation’s stock is rising in the international business community, which includes a highly evolved infrastructure, a wealth of available credit information available on companies there and business-friendly law. Also helpful is its prestigious business quality rating by the World Bank and, according to Choi, that its free-trade agreements with the United States and the European Union will increase competitive fairness by reducing the gap in tariffs, estimated by some at 10%. Also, he contends it will force South Korean companies to produce better products, components and services across the board.
But there are many cultural differences and barriers that need to be taken into account, such as a desire for officials at companies to speak directly with employees on their level with your company (don't pawn her off on the secretary) and the need for formality even in e-mail correspondence.
(Note: Subsequent sessions on Doing Business in Chile, China and Brazil had not been completed at the time of this posting. More coverage is coming to NACM’s blog, eNews and the July/August edition of Business Credit Magazine in the coming days and weeks).
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer, can be reached email@example.com
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 by
U.S. trade activity went through its growingly common routine of another one leap forward, one leap backward in March, the latest U.S. Department of Commerce Statistics indicate. The sum of it all remains an ever-growing trade deficit.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that U.S. exports of goods and services in March 2011 increased 4.6% between February and March to a record $172.7 billion. Both the goods side ($124.9 billion) and services ($47.7 billion) hit high-water marks historically. Among other records were the surge in the export value ($7.7 billion) as well as value of trade routed to Canada and South and Central America. The U.S. even managed to shave its Chinese trade deficit down from $18.8 billion to $18.1 billion, thanks in part to small business exporting levels. Ignoring the elephant in the room, escalating demand and prices for oil products, Locke celebrated the news in a brief statement on the Commerce website.
Far less discussed by Commerce officials was that the trade deficit increased to $48.2 billion, about a 6% increase from February to March. Oil imports spiked by 18% in March to a dollar-value-level of $39.3 billion, the highest in nearly three years.
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by
The Obama administration, U.S. businesses and domestic analysts alike have been pining for a narrowing of the domestic trade gap. And, although just that occurred in February, the news was overshadowed greatly by statistics indicating the first decline in exporting activity in six months and a worrisome price spike on both exports and imports.
Newly unveiled Commerce Department statistics indicate that the trade gap narrowed in February to $45.8 billion from $47 billion. However, both importing and exporting activity were down, by $3.6 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively. The drop in exporting activity despite a doubling-down by the Obama administration to make trade more of a priority in recent months than in any stretch of this presidency came as an unsettling surprise to analysts and economists. The knee-jerk response from markets has been one of renewed uncertainty regarding the continued strength, or lack thereof, of what has already been considered a lackluster and disappointing economic recovery over recent months and years.
Meanwhile, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on import and export price indexes, also announced Tuesday, show higher fuel prices causing a surge in the cost of various products and materials worldwide. Import prices increased by 2.7% between February and March. The index for the important fuel category alone jumped 9%, the largest advance since June 2009, the bureau noted.
Export prices also increased, by 1.5%, from February to March, similar to the previous month’s uptick. Of particular interest is the continued rise in agricultural exports. Those increased another 2.3%, with spikes coming within the corn (9.2%) and cotton (10.5%) commodities. The bureau noted Ag prices has surged by 34% over the last year. Much of this is attributable to draughts and wildfire catastrophes in places such as Russia as well as supply damage caused by out-of-season freezes in some key growing areas. While the high prices are helpful for those producers who evaded crop damage and saw quality yields, the price surge certainly is a double-edged sword that could cut those in the small business exporting game deeply.
Brian Shappell, NACM staff writer