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BLACKLISTING DEPLOYED IN THE BATTLE OVER TECH TRADE

blacklisting

BLACKLISTING DEPLOYED IN THE BATTLE OVER TECH TRADE

National Security an Overriding Consideration

If there is one defining feature of current U.S. trade policy, it is that national security has become an overriding consideration in how the United States engages China. It is also a focal point of U.S. engagement with its main allied trading partners.

The Trump administration has added many tools to its arsenal in combatting what it refers to as “vectors of economic aggression” by China. Tariffs are only the most visible. The United States – and other countries – are increasingly turning to the practice of “blacklisting” persons and companies that pose a national security risk.

Through controls on exports of particular technologies, governments can either prohibit their sale to foreign entities, governments or individuals, or require the technologies be sold only upon issuance of a government license.

Not New, But Expanded

Controlling the export of commercial technologies that have “dual use” or military applications is a longstanding practice. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 includes a general prohibition on quantitative restrictions on both imports and exports, but contains built-in exceptions that allow for export control regimes.

In the United States, the Export Control Act requires the Secretary of Commerce to establish and maintain a list of controlled items, foreign persons, and end-uses determined to be a threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy for the purpose of regulating the export, reexport and in-country transfer of those technologies and to those entities.

countries turning to blacklisting

Futureproofing

At today’s blistering pace of tech innovation, the lines between technologies that are used commercially in the products we buy as private sector businesses and consumers are increasingly blurred with their potential applications in a military setting.

Under the 2018 Export Control Reform Act, Congress authorized the Commerce Department to review its list of controlled technologies to consider “emerging and foundational technologies” that should be added to its control list.

The technologies contemplated include a hit parade of Sci-Fi innovations such as neural networks and deep learning, swarming technology, self-assembling robots and smart dust (whatever that is), in addition to more recognizable technologies such as quantum computing, additive manufacturing and propulsion technologies.

Special Designations

In addition to technologies that may be controlled for export, the Commerce Department also maintains a Restricted Entity List. Entities designated are subject to a policy of presumed denial for all products, whether on the controlled technologies list or not. American companies may not export to entities on this list except through waivers and specific licenses.

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant that is chasing global market share in 5G mobile technology, finds itself on the Restricted Entity List, along with all of its overseas affiliates. Other Chinese companies on the list include FiberHome Technologies Group, another 5G network equipment provider, as well as China’s leading artificial intelligence startups Megvii, SenseTime and Yitu Technologies.

The U.S. government is concerned with entities that could engage in industrial and electronic espionage and infiltrate critical U.S. military systems. But the Commerce Department also took the novel step recently of adding companies to its Restricted Entity List that furnish the Chinese state and its security bureaus with technologies used to surveil and repress civil society.

In October 2019, the United States blacklisted 28 Chinese governmental and commercial organizations, citing human rights violations and abuses in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The companies included Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. which are two of the world’s largest producers of surveillance products as well as several of China’s leading companies in facial and voice recognition.

A Chinese Finger Trap

Last month, as U.S.-China relations continued to deteriorate in very public ways, the U.S. government added two dozen more Chinese governmental and commercial organizations to the Restricted Entity List. The Department of Commerce said they have ties to weapons of mass destruction and military activities.

As with a Chinese finger trap, American companies are now ensnared at both ends. They must comply with U.S. export restrictions but doing so may land them on China’s newly created “Unreliable Entity List”. China created the list as a countermeasure and says it will go after American companies for causing “material damage to the legitimate interests of Chinese companies and relevant industrial sectors” and creating a potential threat to China’s national security.

American cos caught in trap

More Can Play at That Game

The global landscape is actively shifting as countries work to shore up and modernize their export control regimes.

In 2009, the European Union (EU) set up a community-wide regime for the control of exports, transfers, brokering and transit of dual-use items to ensure a common EU list of dual-use items, common criteria for assessments and authorizations throughout the EU.

Last year, Japan and Korea got into a major trade spat when the Japanese government removed South Korea from its so-called “white list” of preferred trading partners for strategic technologies, subjecting some Japanese exports to South Korea to new screening.

Japan’s placement of three chemicals used to make computer chips on the control list resulted in delayed shipments that affected the entire global semiconductor industry since South Korean companies account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s memory chips. South Korea retaliated by dropping Japan from its white list.

One Good Turn Deserves Another

For its part, China deemed its own “Unreliable Entity List” to be unreliable. In January this year (on the same date the U.S.-China Phase One deal was signed in Washington) the National People’s Congress in Beijing published a draft of China’s first comprehensive national Export Control Law, providing China with increased leverage to apply and counteract U.S. export control measures. Safe to say we’ll be reading a lot more about blacklisting in the coming years.

An interesting report to dive deeper:

2018 Report on Foreign Policy-Based Export Controls, U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
pandemic

How Entrepreneurs can Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Within the past couple of weeks, communities across the U.S. have taken swift and drastic action to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Schools have been closed, events canceled, and businesses have changed their day-to-day operations.

In times like these—where the stakes are high and everything is rapidly changing, it’s hard to know exactly what to do. That’s especially true for entrepreneurs, who have to manage their business and care for their employees as well as themselves, their families, and their communities.

With that in mind, here are four ways small business owners can stay informed, prepared, and ready to respond.

Stay informed

New stories are breaking every few hours and official recommendations are constantly developing. With so much information out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed … which can either lead to hours spent scrolling through the news, or tuning it out simply because it seems impossible to filter through everything.

Since it’s important to stay up to date, try putting together a roster of reliable resources you can use to stay on top of the latest news for yourself, your family, and your business—without necessarily spending a lot of time chasing down information.

Here are a handful of sites that might make worthwhile additions to your list.

Health organizations: The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have a suite of medical resources, regular updates on the coronavirus, and guidance for how businesses, schools, and other organizations can protect the health of their communities.

National business organizations: The US Chamber of Commerce is regularly sharing updates and resources focused on businesses and the economic impact of the coronavirus, while the Small Business Administration has resources including employer guidelines, information on their disaster loan program, and a directory of local business organizations.

State and county governments: Local health and business departments are working to take swift action and keep their communities informed as they respond to the coronavirus. Checking in with them can be a great way to understand what’s going on in your community and what services they are offering in response. You can typically find their websites through a quick search.

Look for resources that can help

The sweeping changes we’re seeing in response to the coronavirus are, inevitably, having massive social and economic impacts. With schools closed, events canceled, restaurants vacant, and many other businesses dealing with closures or reduced demand, many people are dealing with reduced income or economic uncertainty.

At this point, nearly everyone is significantly impacted in some way. As a result, we’re seeing government and community organizations come together and try to find new ways to support each other.

If you, or someone you know, is facing challenges as a result of the coronavirus, look for resources that might help. And if you’re not sure where to look, start by checking with your local newspaper or news outlet, or contacting your state or county government for advice.

Here’s a general overview of programs that are already available or in progress:

-Although most schools are closed, many of them are still offering meals to children who rely on school lunches.

-Food pantries are doing their best to adapt to the changing needs of communities.

-The federal government is working to pass response packages that offer economic support to families, communities, and businesses.

-The Small Business Administration is offering resources, including disaster loans, for small businesses.

-Many state and local governments are offering financial relief for small businesses, including tax deferments, grants, legal assistance, and loans.

It’s likely that more and more resources will become available as time goes by. These programs all exist to help businesses, families, and communities get through challenges and bounce back from them, so don’t hesitate to use them.

Find ways to adapt

There are a lot of businesses that are especially hard-hit by the coronavirus. Travel, restaurants, entertainment, events … the list goes on.

And although it would be ridiculous to suggest that all these businesses can mitigate their losses by smart planning and marketing, some are finding ways to cushion the damage a bit. For example, some restaurants are closing their tables but offering delivery or pickup instead. Retail shops are focusing on ecommerce efforts.

If you’re seeing a substantial drop in business, take some time to brainstorm. Talk to other entrepreneurs in your community (perhaps via a virtual meetup). Look for new needs and opportunities, and see if there’s a way your business can pivot or stretch to fill them.

Challenges and obstacles can lead to innovation and new opportunities, if you’re prepared to meet them.

Support your community

It’s a tough time right now. Although many groups are hit harder than others, practically everyone is feeling the strain one way or another.

That’s why, if you can, it’s more important than ever to volunteer, donate, and find other ways to support your local businesses and communities. Here are just a handful of ideas:

-If local restaurants sell gift cards, consider buying one (or a handful) to show your support. You can also look for small independent retailers who offer delivery or online sales instead of turning to bigger businesses.

-Consider donating to your local food bank or Meals on Wheels.

-If you can, give blood. There’s currently a severe blood shortage, and the Red Cross has put together guidelines on donating blood during the coronavirus pandemic.

-Help neighbors who are especially vulnerable to the virus due to age or pre-existing health conditions.

-Find and support local nonprofits whose services are likely to be strained by the virus. The impact is potentially wider-reaching than you might think, but nonprofits that focus on food, healthcare, and housing are a great place to start.

It can be especially challenging to donate or volunteer when you’re feeling anxious or economically strained, but every little bit counts. One thing we do know about the pandemic is that working together, as a community, is critical—so keep looking for ways we can all support each other through this.

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Chelsea Hoffer is a writer at Azlo, an online banking solution for entrepreneurs, where she gathers and shares knowledge about building successful businesses.

rates

230 years of Data Show Rates Will Soon Hit to 0.50 Percent

While everyone has been concerned about the sell-off in the stock market in the past two weeks, this decline should be contrasted with the rapid rise in the price of government bonds. For the first time in history, the yield on the 10-year government bond fell below 1%.

As Figure 1 illustrates, the 75-year interest rate pyramid is continuing its path toward new lows. The pyramid began on November 30, 1945, when the 10-year bond yielded 1.55%. The yield gradually rose for the next 36 years, peaking at 15.84% on September 30, 1981. The yield has trended downward for the past 39 years and now has sunk below 1%. The past 75 years have provided a near mirror image in bond yields.  So what does it mean?

Before the current downturn, the lowest yield on the 10-year bond was 1.37% which occurred on July 5, 2016. We analyzed the 75-year interest rate pyramid in the blog “Government Bond Yields and Returns in the 2020s” which was published on January 8. We predicted the continued decline in government bond yields in the United States during the coming decade. With negative interest rates on most 10-year bonds in Europe and Japan, there is no reason why yields in the United States shouldn’t continue to decline.

The 10-year bond yielded over 3% in November 2018 and by December 31, 2019, the yield on the 10-year bond had fallen to 1.92%.  Today, the yield is half that. This decline has provided an 8% return to fixed-income investors during the past two months as the price of government bonds has risen. A 10-basis point decline in the yield rewards investors with a short-term gain of about 1%.

In the blog “300 Years of the Equity-risk Premium” published on February 5, we predicted that the total return to government bonds over the next 10 years will be around 2% per annum or less. This return can only occur through the continued decline in bond yields and increase in the price of government bonds. As we explained, government bonds have outperformed stocks since 2000; however, our analysis indicates that the return to bonds will be lower than the return to stocks over the coming decade.

The 5-year bond yield fell to almost 0.5% back in 2012.  So why can’t the 10-year bond yield decline to 0.5%in 2020? Figure 2 provides 230 years of bond yield data, which shows each decline building a deeper valley indicating that interest rates will soon reach a lower low. We believe it is only a matter of time before the yield on the U.S. 10-year bond hits 0.5%.

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Dr. Bryan Taylor is President and Chief Economist for Global Financial Data. He received his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in Economics writing about the economics of the arts. He has taught both economics and finance at numerous universities in southern California and in Switzerland. He began putting together the Global Financial Database in 1990, collecting and transcribing financial and economic data from historical archives around the world. Dr. Taylor has published numerous articles and blogs based upon the Global Financial Database, the US Stocks and the GFD Indices. Dr. Taylor’s research has uncovered previously unknown aspects of financial history. He has written two books on financial history.

5 Mistakes New College Grads Make as They Enter Entrepreneurship

It’s that time of year again. Thousands of qualified college graduates are getting set to enter the workforce. They were promised that their hard work and diligence will earn them an attractive job and a high chance of success.  With ambition, motivation, and dreams, scores of young men and women will forge their way into the business world. Some of them have lofty goals of entrepreneurship.  Many are under the impression that whatever works for high profile examples of successful leaders in business will also work for them. Public information and theory are often misleading, and so is attempting to imitate another company’s or leader’s blueprint. According to some experts, new college graduates often make five brutal mistakes as they try to navigate their own potential new enterprise.

1) Recent college graduates think they know a lot more than they do upon graduation: Implementation is different to theory and ideas, so you need to be able to bring operational performance and many other skills to the table. Knowledge is one thing, but true execution will provide the experience you really need.

2) Many do not understand how funding works and the capitol needed in the initial phases of a business. Inexperienced people are misled when it comes to startup funding and what is needed to begin and grow a business.  Often young founders don’t think about basic concepts like unit economics, which is selling something for more than what it costs to make. Even some very well funded startups tend to ignore this.

3) Raising funds does not equal success. Many young entrepreneurs are focused on the superficial belief that the more money they raise, the more successful their business is going to be. While it’s true that, everything else being equal, having more money to spend on your business is good, there is a lot more to it than that simple formula. Plenty of businesses fail because they raised too much money and it encouraged them to do things that didn’t make sense. Many other businesses fail because they raised money that they believed would fund all of their dreams of growth, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Other businesses fail because they raise the wrong kind of money, such as debt they can’t repay on time or equity that causes them to lose control of their business.

4) Inexperienced founders often overestimate their own importance and don’t appreciate the importance of the team they build around them. It is not easy to find skilled people who also happen to be a good fit for the culture and mission of your enterprise.  This takes a lot more time, effort, and trial and error than many founders realize if they haven’t done it before.  You need a great team to build a great team. But that the classic chicken and egg problem you have to solve. You have to be careful, and realize you will make mistakes, about who you hire early in the life of your company. Only offer substantial equity and responsibility to those who have proven themselves. Recognize your hiring mistakes and correct them quickly. Teams often don’t rise to the level of their best people. They often sink to the level of their worst people. Keep that in mind as you build your company.  
 

5) Know and own your limitations. Young innovators especially, though it applies even to more experienced entrepreneurs, tend to lack self-awareness of their own weaknesses. These blind spots can be disastrous.  Most highly successful people understand their weaknesses and surround themselves with others who can do what they cannot, who share a similar vision, and with whom they can collaborate. Inexperience can lead to overconfidence. This is an especially dangerous pitfall for early stage startups and new entrepreneurs. 

Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos is a good example of a culmination of all 5 of these mistakes and what inexperience can do to a business idea. She raised $900 million. Her company was worth billions. She was on the cover of magazines and featured on TV shows and one of the best founders in a generation. But it ended in failure and she may go to prison for her behavior.

There are real world, and sometimes life altering, consequences for making these mistakes. Think through your decisions carefully and be aware of the risks you take as you pursue your exciting and hopefully rewarding entrepreneurial journey.