New Articles

7 Tips For Starting A New Business Overseas

overseas

7 Tips For Starting A New Business Overseas

Moving abroad has been the dream of many people. Instead of traveling for a vacation, you can move to another country and establish your life there. Setting up a business is one of the best ways to settle abroad. But what are the odds that your business will succeed? That is the worry for most people who intend to start a business abroad.

This article aims to give you hope and remind you that it is still possible to do business overseas. Once you are set, you can travel to any country that you dream of living in and start your establishment. All you need is a market for your products and comply with the local government regulations. On top of that, be aware that sometimes you may be far from your establishment or home if you do not intend to move permanently.

These seven tips should help you to successfully run any business of your dream in a foreign country.

Pick Your Ideal Destination:

Before you can travel and start your trade overseas, you must be specific about the place you want to settle. Many factors will determine your destination. The climate of the region can so much affect how you cope with the transition. For instance, if you come from the tropical regions, moving to the colder regions might be a harsh encounter, and you will take time to adapt.

You would also want to research the economic and political stability before you move your investment there. You cannot put up your business in a place where you cannot sleep peacefully or are not sure if the product value will fall and lose your investment.

Learn the Local Language and Culture:

When entering into business, you should expect to interact with the local community. People are always skeptical when it comes to new businesses. They want to learn your business model, treat them, and your attitude toward their way of life. As you must be aware, nobody wants to give up on their culture.

Therefore, your business idea should not cross the customs of the people in the country you want to settle. Learning the local language makes it easy to blend with people and understand each other – improving your services to the consumers. However, the language will come in slowly when you finally settle.

Evaluate the Market:

Market research is essential when starting up a business abroad. What do people like? How specific are they when they buy their products? What pulls them to other brands? In your research, you need to understand two things. First, you should know who your ideal customer is and what they want. You also want to learn some things about your competitors.

How has the product you intend to launch been doing in the past – or anything similar? Knowing other traders’ performance in your industry will help you understand the growth potential of any new investment in the region. If your competitors have had some growth, you can invest in the industry and acquire customers.

Legalize Your Operation:

Each country on the planet has its laws regarding business operations. You should, as a fundamental step, register your company abroad when starting. Later on, you will want to register trademarks as well for your convenience. Inquire about business registration and licensing requirements, because in some regions, they are offered separately.

For small businesses and operations like retail and supermarkets, you may only need a local business license to operate. However, if you are into manufacturing, assembly, and supplies, you will need to register a company. You can consult an attorney about the process or visit a registered company formation agent to complete the registration process.

Expand Your Network:

Connections matter a lot in every aspect of our lives. In business, we need to engage with people who know the surroundings and the requirements we need to fulfill to ensure that we run our ventures smoothly. When you plan to move abroad, you should get in touch with businesses and people who can help you start.

Relationships also create lasting trust between you and your network. The network you have can support you in many ways through your business and provide any assistance you may need during challenging moments. It would help if you did not ignore your competitors as they are vital for the growth of your business.

Start with Freelancers:

Managing employees might be another issue people worry about when thinking of setting up a business overseas. How will you compensate your workers? What terms do you need in a foreign land? What about taxes and insurance? All these things might consume your time, money, and brains.

Managing employees has never been easy, and it is not going to be any time soon. As a startup, you should think of ways to run your business without formal workers at your premises. The initial stages of a business setup may not need workforce until you establish a customer base. Therefore, you are better off paying freelancers for the available tasks and pay them hourly or on daily wage agreements.

Set Up a Website:

We are in the 21st century when digital marketing matters in all business sectors. As a startup, you want to reach more prospects both locally and through the states and beyond boundaries. Various marketing channels are essential, but you need to reach more customers online through social media, content marketing, and PPC. It would help if you did not forget about SEO and the long-term customer flow.

However, all forms of digital marketing have something in common. Consumers interested in your ventures need to click on a link or button to read more about your business and products. You must, therefore, have a website for people to learn more and interact with your brand. Ensure that you have your contact information on the site, and make it easy to access mobile devices.

In Summing Up

Moving abroad to start a business is an awesome idea. Therefore, you should make sure that everything you will be doing is compliant with the local authority laws and consumer expectations to sustain growth. Research is essential, and preparation in every aspect is mandatory. Give no room to chances, but exploit every opportunity to grow.

barley

Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Jordan Import the Most Barley in the Middle East

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Middle East – Barley – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In 2019, the Middle Eastern barley market increased by 8.4% to $5B, rising for the second consecutive year after four years of decline. Overall, consumption recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2013 when the market value increased by 16% y-o-y. As a result, consumption reached a peak level of $7.6B. From 2014 to 2019, the growth of the market failed to regain momentum.

Consumption by Country

The countries with the highest volumes of barley consumption in 2019 were Turkey (7.5M tonnes), Iran (5.3M tonnes), and Saudi Arabia (4.2M tonnes), together comprising 82% of total consumption. These countries were followed by Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, and the Syrian Arab Republic, which together accounted for a further 12%.

From 2007 to 2019, the biggest increases were in Kuwait, while barley consumption for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Turkey ($1.9B), Iran ($1.2B), and Saudi Arabia ($998M) were the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2019, together accounting for 82% of the total market. Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, and the Syrian Arab Republic lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 12%.

The countries with the highest levels of barley per capita consumption in 2019 were Kuwait (140 kg per person), Saudi Arabia (121 kg per person), and Turkey (91 kg per person).

Production in the Middle East

Barley production shrank modestly to 11M tonnes in 2019, approximately reflecting 2018. Over the period under review, production saw a relatively flat trend pattern.

Turkey (7M tonnes) remains the largest barley producing country in the Middle East, accounting for 65% of total volume. Moreover, barley production in Turkey exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, Iran (2.8M tonnes), threefold. Iraq (557K tonnes) ranked third in terms of total production with a 5.2% share.

In Turkey, barley production remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2019. In other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Iran (-0.9% per year) and Iraq (-2.4% per year).

Harvested Area and Yield in the Middle East

In 2019, approx. 6.1M ha of barley were harvested in the Middle East; waning by -1.6% against the previous year. In general, the harvested area recorded a mild contraction.

In 2019, the average yield of barley in the Middle East totaled 1.8 tonnes per ha, stabilizing at the previous year’s figure. Over the period under review, the barley yield reached the peak level at 2 tonnes per ha in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2019, the yield remained at a lower figure.

Imports in the Middle East

After two years of growth, supplies from abroad of barley decreased by -2.8% to 10M tonnes in 2019. Overall, imports, however, showed a relatively flat trend pattern.Over the period under review, imports hit record highs at 13M tonnes in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2019, imports stood at a somewhat lower figure. In value terms, barley imports totaled $2.3B (IndexBox estimates) in 2019.

Imports by Country

Saudi Arabia was the main importing country with an import of about 4.2M tonnes, which amounted to 42% of total imports. It was distantly followed by Iran (2.6M tonnes), Jordan (0.9M tonnes), Kuwait (0.6M tonnes), and Turkey (0.6M tonnes), together committing a 46% share of total imports. The following importers – the United Arab Emirates (383K tonnes) and Israel (359K tonnes) – each comprised a 7.4% share of total imports.

From 2007 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of purchases, amongst the key importing countries, was attained by Iran, while imports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Saudi Arabia ($966M), Iran ($546M), and Jordan ($213M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2019, together accounting for 74% of total imports.

Import Prices by Country

In 2019, the barley import price in the Middle East amounted to $231 per tonne, increasing by 6.4% against the previous year. In general, the import price, however, showed a perceptible downturn. Over the period under review, import prices reached the maximum at $307 per tonne in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2019, import prices remained at a lower figure.

Average prices varied noticeably amongst the major importing countries. In 2019, major importing countries recorded the following prices: in Jordan ($248 per tonne) and Kuwait ($231 per tonne), while Israel ($209 per tonne) and Iran ($213 per tonne) were amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2019, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Iran, while the other leaders experienced a decline in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

boohoo

The Boohoo’s Trade Ascendency – What Can we Learn?

The Coronavirus crisis has taken it’s fair share of victims in the world of retail, tolling the death knell for a whole slew of companies including Debenhams, Long Tall Sally, Cath Kidson, Warehouse and Oasis. And yet, recent news tells us all is not lost – Boohoo has stepped in and bought the online businesses of both Warehouse and Oasis for a bargain £5.25m. It’s no surprise that e-commerce based retailers have been less hard-hit than their high-street counterparts, but even so, the majority of e-tailers have reported losses during the crisis. Not so Boohoo. Despite a slight downturn when the crisis hit, sales shot back up in May and they closed the first quarter with a 45% sales increase on the previous year. So what is it that makes Boohoo so special?

Their secret it seems is in their provisioning – the “Test and Repeat” model. Rather than making major forward orders and holding large amounts of stock in their warehouse, they instead purchase small product runs, test them on the site, and then restock quickly the products that work well, discarding those that don’t. This has been vital during the COVID-19 crisis as it allowed Boohoo to switch their product range from party and club styles to loungewear and athleisure within a matter of days, adapting to their audience’s requirements without missing a beat. As the retail sector faces an uncertain future it’s worth considering whether this business model may be the solution for retailers everywhere, whatever their size.

The difficulty is sourcing products quickly enough to make it work. There’s no point in having a successful test-run of a certain product if, when the first batch sells out, your restock order from suppliers in China or India can take up to 2 months to arrive – by this point the bird will have well and truly flown. Boohoo combats this by stocking mainly UK based suppliers, and with imports affected by travel restrictions and breaks in the supply chain, sourcing products locally is, without doubt, the obvious solution (particularly with Brexit on the horizon). Some retailers may balk at the higher prices, but with lower risks and less deadstock, the benefits do seem to outweigh the increased costs.

The Coronavirus crisis has forced an entire industry to stop and think, literally. How can we change the way we work to face the challenges that have taken us all by surprise? Short-order provisioning may be a way for businesses to adapt to this new situation and respond to the rapid changes in consumer demand that are sure to continue over the coming months, however, this is likely to be a step outside of the comfort zone for many retailers who are used to ordering for season months in advance.

The good news is that there are simple options to help with the switch to the “Test and Repeat” model. TradeGala offers ready-to-ship stock from over 50 independent fashion brands covering womenswear, menswear, childrenswear, accessories, gifts and shoes. It’s simple to register and you can go from initial order to receipt of goods in just a few days. Whether or not the recent changes signal the future of the fashion retail industry, as with any business, adaptation is survival. Is your retail business ready for the “new normal”?

business in the UK

Important Things to Know about Doing Business in the UK

Interested in expansion into UK markets? It’s a worthwhile investment. The UK is one of the most prosperous and stable markets in the world, with a high wealth per capita and plenty of opportunities for capital acquisition, especially within London. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking this kind of prosperity was fairly exclusive. Indeed, following Brexit, it would seem that opening up a business in the UK as a foreign national is going to be quite a challenge. But, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Starting a business in the UK is really easy for newcomers and foreign nationals. You can establish a Limited Company in Britain without jumping any additional hurdles. You don’t need VISAs, agreements of trade or anything else — and there is no requirement for specific ID or passports. All you need is a company name, at least one director, to provide all necessary documentation (not as intimidating as it sounds) and to follow the process of registering for taxation. The only barrier you may face compared to a British resident is you’ll need to register your business to a UK address; easily done these days through virtual offices. This criterion of requiring an address does not exist to exclude anyone from starting up in Britain. It is merely a gateway to simpler correspondence and domestic accountability — should accountability be necessary.  

It should be noted that accountability is rarely necessary, but when it is, it’s vital. This is because the UK business landscape rests upon a complicated legal structure. Industries form around different regulatory bodies, and standards are upheld by various commissions, depending on your area of business. The nature of the UK business landscape is very protective and favors business stability and longevity. Follow the legal processes correctly and you’ll have a lot of the tools you need to thrive. However, failure to follow the legal structures imposed on your business can result in problems. Regulations are strictly enforced and consequences for non-compliance can be severe.

Education is your best bet. Enter the market aware of all your obligations and legal responsibilities. Legal advice from specialists — those who can ensure you get set up properly and conform to the right guidelines — is often recommended if it is an affordable expense. More than anything, this is to ensure you don’t miss any of the finer details — because your competitors, and customers, will likely be aware of those finer details and take you to task for rule-breaking. 

Standards of education in the UK are very high. Similar to the USA, it is legally required for all students to attend formal education until they are 18. Following basic education, many move on to university as higher education is often subsidized by the government with the rest of the money obtained through widely-available student loan systems. Expectations for levels of education are high, so be prepared to meet the high standards set by domestic learning, and contend with partners and consumers who know what they’re talking about. It’s a good business practice in the UK to assume that your customers know as much about your industry as you do, if not more. 

This fact leads us to the most important lesson you can learn about doing business in the UK. Good business routinely comes down to good business relationships. Every successful entrepreneur and business owner knows that who you know is just as important as what you know. That means no matter where you do business, you need to build healthy alliances and relationships.

In the UK, the key to building great relationships lies in navigating society and culture. The UK business landscape is a powerful environment for building strong, long-lasting, and loyal relationships that can provide pivotal opportunities for growth. But you have to get this right. In general, UK business culture — particularly the modern and adaptive landscape of London and other large cities — is very open to foreigners. The more you travel outside of cities to do business, the more cultural barriers you may find stand in your way, but this often comes not from hostility towards outside opportunities, but a lack of familiarity. Time and effort to establish yourself is what’s important when dealing with business communities with a lack of experience of foreign trade. A slow and tactful approach is always going to play favorably in the UK, no matter where you are trading.

However, with this idea of openness in mind, there are certainly still some cultural lessons to be learned before diving head-first into business within the UK. As we’ve mentioned, you’re building relationships, and the key to any successful relationship is behaving correctly. Loud, obnoxious, and forceful traits are unwelcome in British culture. Pushing for hard sales or getting in people’s faces with ideas might seem like the mark of passion and enthusiasm, but it won’t make you many friends — even in London. Modesty, restraint, and an even temperament are important. You’re looking to play the long-game here, building up stable bridges over time through humility, gradually increased levels of trust, and real-world demonstrations of your expertise and worth. 

In the UK, talk is cheap. 

Once you do start forming those relationships, you’ll have to be careful not to lose them. Bonds in UK business culture are tough to break once established, but the early days make them vulnerable if strife is introduced. Privacy is coveted, as is space. Don’t get too personal, and respect distances people establish. 

While there are ways your behavior can influence the business relationship, there are also ways that the actions of your new British partners could affect you. If you’re not aware of these factors, you may misinterpret them, which can again lead to conflict. We’re talking specifically about humor. Jokes — commonly at the expense of others — are prevalent in the UK. Referred to as “banter”, these are often light-hearted remarks aimed at teasing another individual. The intent is most-always friendly, but if you’re not familiar with the custom, it can appear to be offensive. The levels of “banter” you’ll experience can vary wildly from person to person, but it is a widespread form of social interaction in the UK. Just remember, it’s all in good fun, so laugh along. People who are unable to take a joke are generally looked upon unfavorably. 

Anything else it’s important to know about doing business in the UK?

To make a cup of tea, first, boil the kettle. Place a tea bag in a mug. Ask how many sugars. Each request, for example, “two sugars” means one teaspoon of sugar. Add the requested amount of sugar. Pour the water in. Leave to brew for a few minutes. Ask if they’d like milk. If yes, add a small amount of milk until the tea goes from dark to pale brown. Stir well. Remove the tea bag with your spoon. Extra points if you use the spoon to crush the teabag against the inside of the mug to squeeze out any remnants of flavor.

______________________________________________________________________

This article was written by Rajesh Velayuthasamy, founder and director of Mint Formations, a company that supports local and foreign nationals to establish a business presence within the UK. 

leadership style

How to Change Your Leadership Style and Adapt to the Changing World

A scholar in Nova Southeastern University by the name of Chien presented executives with a correlation between leadership effectiveness of different leadership styles adopted by executives in international companies. Although this empirical study was primarily designed to investigate global leaders and in this case Taiwan, there are kernels for all executives to learn from. For example, there was a strong positive correlation between the effectiveness of leaders and adopting a transformational leadership style at the highest organizational levels.

Executives began to listen and respond to the plethora of information in the form of articles and books attempting to provide transformational leadership as an adaptable and applicable leadership style to help impact not only the productivity and profitability of the organization but also the competitive advantage. One example is the concept of intellectual stimulation which is another important aspect of transformational leadership. Intellectual stimulation positively impacts the effectiveness of leadership in building learning through facilitating knowledge sharing by all leaders and followers of the organization. Executives require people who are engaged and inspired to meet the demands of day-to-day operations.

Transformational leadership also suggests that executives inspire their followers. Ergo, transformational leadership is a suitable leadership style to analyze leadership in international companies. By adopting a transformational leadership style, executives are able to answer the questions necessary to apply leadership without having to delve through all the leadership styles to find what works well for them and what does not. To prove the correlations between transformational leadership and the effectiveness of leadership in global environments today, I take a further look at new industry researches so that executives can see the correlation and application.

An Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills found relevant information that may help leaders embrace transformational leadership. The task force first critiqued top managers and found them to be inadequate effective leaders. The report illustrates the weaknesses of leaders, such as failing to develop a clear vision for the future of their organization. Similarly, a more recent report on Management Matters illustrated that top managers in the manufacturing sector scored the least in the very important organizational behavior tenet of people management when compared to two other areas of operations- and performance management. This particular report highlighted that companies need to enhance leverage on human assets in order to achieve sustained competitiveness.

In both cases, companies have been ranked low in almost all dimensions of people management. After careful review of these findings for both case studies, the scholars recommend that companies must improve their human resource-related practices with a target of attracting, retaining, and promoting their human resources. This article goes further and suggests that the way for these managers and leaders, and leaders across the globe, to make the effective changes that are posited in the transformational leadership. The recommendations of transformational leadership are to focus on developing a strategic vision for their future strategic initiatives. When transformational leaders can generate a shared and inspiring vision for the future expansion into the global business environment, they will secure a foothold in the ever-expansive global marketplace. Thus, executives that act as transformational leaders are capable to overcome their deficiencies and lead better in our hypercompetitive environment of today.

These industry researches also identify the transformational leadership style as a primary driver of organizational competitiveness. Unfortunately, while the characteristics of transformational leaders are positively associated with the competitiveness of international companies, it is somewhat underutilized in organizations worldwide. This is suspect and alarming because numerous empirical studies have found that there is a direct correlation between transformational leadership and organizational competitiveness. Scholars highlighted transformational leadership as an enabler of organizational competitiveness. Therefore, leaders that may not be utilizing the transformational leadership style which has been posited as a managerial-based competency for organizations operating in today’s innovative business environment can now explore the virtues of using this leadership style to improve competitive advantage.

In conclusion, executives in international companies can now take a new view of managerial decision-making and leading – transformational leadership. Transformational leadership lies at the focal point of executive success. Therefore, I suggest that these executives embrace transformational leadership. This leadership style influences some of the spans of control of executive responsibility. For the scholar’s corner, I place a great deal of emphasis on the literature on transformational leadership as a significant indicator for business success. Scholars see that I expand upon the subject matter of transformational leadership. Through articulating the impacts of transformational leadership on the competitiveness of international companies, I add to the current and extant literature. Organizational competitiveness is essential for business growth and prosperity in today’s global business environments.

_______________________________________________________________

References

[1] Chien, HJ 2001, A comparison of leadership characteristics in public and large and small private organizations in Taiwan, Nova Southeastern University.

[2] Report of the Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills 1995, Renewing Australian’s managers to meet the challenges of the Asia-pacific century.

[3] Management Matters in Australia: Just how productive are we? 2012, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Australia.

special 301

“SPECIAL 301”: HOW THE U.S. MONITORS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTIONS IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Protecting the ideas behind international trade

Americans following U.S.-China trade relations during the past three years might be familiar with the reference to intellectual property rights (“IPR”) as the basis of the current Administration’s actions to level the trade playing field with China. In 2017, the Administration initiated an investigation into China’s policies, practices and actions that are detrimental to U.S. commercial interests. One of the major complaints is China’s requirement that U.S. companies provide its technologies to Chinese entities in order to do business. This was viewed as forcing U.S. companies to share trade secrets, a form of intellectual property rights.

While the U.S.-China trade issues have dominated recent headlines, the U.S. Government and U.S. industry have been assessing the commercial environment for IPR (patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, geographical indications, trade secrets) in our trading partners for decades.

A “special” trade provision

The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 was signed and went into effect the same year. The Act included a legal provision commonly known as “Special 301” (19 U.S.C. §2242).

The Special 301 provision focuses specifically on IPR and foreign countries whose acts, practices and policies have a detrimental effect on U.S. entities. The law directs the U.S. Government to identify acts, practices and policies that may, for example, prevent IPR owners from obtaining adequate and effective protection for their IPR assets or may be denied fair and equitable market access for their IPR assets in a foreign country.

More specifically, the Special 301 provision instructs the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) to issue a report every year (19 U.S.C. §2242(h)) that identifies the foreign countries whose IPR acts, practices or policies are the most onerous or egregious.

In so doing, USTR is instructed to consult with other agencies of the government such as the Copyright Office, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other appropriate federal government officials and accept inputs from any interested persons (19 U.S.C. §2242(b)(2)). USTR obtains private sector input for its annual report by publishing a notice in the Federal Register that solicits public comment. For example, as part of the 2020 report, USTR published a notice in the December 23, 2019 Federal Register, “Request for Comments and Notice of a Public Hearing Regarding the 2020 Special 301 Review”.

Jobs reliant on IP intensive industries (1)

Priorities and watch lists

The annual Special 301 report has evolved over the past 30 years. If USTR designates a country as a “priority foreign country,” USTR is required to enter into negotiations to obtain commitments from that foreign government toward specific actions to eliminate the detrimental act, practice or policy or subject the government to trade sanctions.

The first report in 1989 identified 25 countries, but did not designate any of these 25 countries as a “priority foreign country”. To provide more flexibility, the 1989 report created two additional categories: “priority watch list” and “watch list”. In 2016, the Special 301 law was amended to require USTR to create an action plan for countries placed on the priority watch list (19 U.S.C. §2242(g)).

Last year, USTR declined to designate any priority foreign countries but included China, India, Chile and Indonesia on its priority watch list. USTR is also monitoring the European Union’s practices regarding whether companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google will be liable for copyright violations by third parties on their platforms. Some U.S. industries will testify that Canada should be placed on the priority foreign country list this year for geographical indications that undermine U.S. trademarks, plain packaging regulations, and lack of adequate drug patent protections.

High Costs of IP Theft2

What’s the government looking for?

IPR owners conducting business in foreign markets and confronting challenges regarding the treatment of their IPR assets can learn about the kinds of IPR issues USTR will address by reviewing past Special 301 reports. In the 2019 report, USTR cited a broad spectrum of IPR issues identified as problematic in foreign markets. The issues cited included:

-enforcement and market access issues regarding pharmaceutical and medical devices,

-online and broadcast piracy,

-lack of ex officio authority for customs officials to seize and destroy infringing goods,

-lack of legal authority for customs officials to stop in-transit movement of infringing goods,

-lack of effective policies and procedures to prevent government agencies from using unlicensed software,

-restrictive patentability criteria,

-inadequate legal protection for trade secrets, and

-negative effects on market access due to the adoption of the European Union approach to the protection of geographical indications.

As the list above demonstrates, the IPR-related issues that are addressed as problematic in foreign countries reflects issues identified by private sector enterprises. Those doing business abroad are in the best position to identify what IPR-related deficiencies hamper the ability to do business in a particular foreign market.

“Notorious Markets”

USTR’s reporting has adapted over the years. In recent years, the annual report has been supplemented by a separate “Notorious Markets” report which is prepared and issued separately. The Notorious Markets report “highlights prominent and illustrative examples of online and physical marketplaces that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial piracy and counterfeiting.” The 2018 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets identifies the proliferation of counterfeit goods availability on online marketplaces as a threat to IPR owners. The report also identified an online “cyberlocker” in Poland, demonstrating how the report reflects the changing IPR environment due to technology.

The latest USTR Notorious Markets report provides an example of how USTR works to keep up with emerging and troublesome developments. The report includes a special section that focuses on free trade zones (FTZs) as especially problematic in facilitating trade in IPR-infringing products. The report notes that FTZs are “major facilitators of illegal and criminal activity, including the illicit trade in pirated and counterfeit goods, smuggling, and money laundering.”

Neighborhood watch

The Special 301 legal process is available to U.S. IPR owners and to any American business that owns IP and conducts commercial activity abroad. Becoming familiar with past reports, the Special 301 legal provision and the U.S. Government agencies involved is a good start to take advantage of this provision. As the Special 301 reports document, no foreign country is excepted from the possibility of being named as having detrimental acts, practices or policies.

To be effective, both the annual Special 301 report and the Notorious Markets report require the active involvement of the private sector community. While U.S. embassies can provide input for these reports, the report depends upon U.S. businesses who are the victims of foreign acts, practices and policies to identify these so that the U.S. Government can assess these issues and raise them with foreign governments.

_______________________________________________________________

Tim-Trainer

Tim Trainer was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. He is a past president of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Tim is now the principal at Global Intellectual Property Strategy Center, P.C., and Galaxy Systems, Inc.

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

WTO

Erasing the Global Gains from the WTO Government Procurement Agreement?

Government purchases are a trillion-dollar opportunity for U.S. businesses

Governments buy a wide variety of goods and services from the private sector, from bridges and road construction to power plants and digital infrastructure to office and hospital supplies. In 2018, global government procurement amounted to $11 trillion or 12 percent of global GDP. The U.S. government procurement market alone was $837 billion in 2010.

While most countries have regulations to ensure government procurement is handled in a fair and transparent manner, procurement processes are susceptible to a high incidence of corruption, particularly in the form of undue influence on the bidding outcomes of public contracts.

Enter global procurement trade disciplines

The first agreement on government procurement – called the “Tokyo Round Code on Government Procurement” – was negotiated in 1979 by a small group of countries who wanted to develop a set of harmonized rules governing public procurement that would set a high standard for transparency and openness. That agreement was subsequently renegotiated as the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) in 1994 as part of the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and members agreed to further expand the GPA in 2012. As of May of last year, when Australia became the most recent member to join the GPA, 48 countries were party to the Agreement, with 34 countries having observer status (including 10 of those in active negotiations to join the agreement). The GPA now covers $1.7 trillion in government procurement activities from its member countries.

The GPA includes general disciplines to ensure fair, open and transparent procurement processes for products that exceed a dollar threshold specified by the agreement. Additionally, each country has committed to a “schedule” which specifies which of its entities and purchases are subject to the agreement. Countries typically exclude defense and national security purchases from the agreement as well as set-asides for small, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses. Disputes under the GPA can be raised through the WTO dispute settlement system.
value of global procurement

Some WTO members but not all

The GPA is a so-called “plurilateral” agreement, meaning only a subgroup of WTO member countries are party to it, and therefore the WTO’s most-favored-nation principle does not apply. Rather, the countries that are parties to the agreement grant each other access to their government procurement markets under the terms of the GPA, but that access is not offered to WTO member countries that are not GPA members.

The United States includes similar procurement language from the GPA in its bilateral free trade agreements, like the recently negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. All told, the United States has procurement agreements with 58 countries, including the GPA countries and countries with which it has separate free trade agreements.

Even for countries that are not GPA members, the rules in the agreement have become the accepted norms for government procurement globally, with most countries aspiring to this level of fairness and transparency, even if they don’t implement the GPA fully.

The relationship between GPA and “Buy American” requirements

Prior to the GPA, Congress enacted a series of domestic content statutes to ensure that public procurement projects funded by U.S. tax dollars benefit U.S. firms and workers. The Buy American Act of 1933 requires federal government procurement of U.S.-origin articles, supplies and material or manufactured products to be produced “substantially all” from domestic inputs. While equipment can have a minimal amount of foreign content to qualify, the allowed amount is extremely low. The act generally also allows a price preference for domestic end products and construction materials.

Buy American requirements may be waived under three circumstances: (1) if a decision is made that it is in the public interest to do so; (2) if the cost of U.S.-made products is unreasonable; or (3) if the products are not available in sufficient quality or quantity from U.S. producers. Since the GPA was negotiated, a fourth circumstance was introduced: Buy American can be waived with respect to procurement bids originating from countries that have provided reciprocal access to their own domestic procurement markets.

A push for expansion?

The Trump administration is reportedly reviewing the benefits of the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement. As reported to the WTO, the United States offered more procurement opportunities to foreign firms in 2010 (the last year for which data are available) than the next five largest GPA parties combined, which include the European Union’s 27 members, Japan, South Korea, Norway and Canada. The United States may open as much as 80 percent of federal contracts to foreign suppliers, whereas the European Union, Japan and Korea may open somewhere between 13 and 30 percent of central government contracts to foreign suppliers.

However, a U.S. government review that offered those calculations also points out that lags and inconsistencies in foreign government data reporting, data gaps, and a lack of methodology for reporting on sub-federal procurement, make it difficult to determine GPA benefits with accuracy.

And while foreign suppliers are able to compete for certain U.S. government contracts, the GPA and bilateral free trade agreements enable U.S. companies to compete in the nearly $2 trillion dollar government procurement market in the other signatory countries, an opportunity that would be significantly limited by withdrawal from the GPA. In many cases, such as sales of medical devices and medicines to state-run hospitals, software for government agency use, sales of power equipment, and the construction of hard infrastructure, the GPA offers the primary form of access by U.S. companies to foreign markets.

Worse than losing reciprocity

Ironically, American withdrawal from GPA would also complicate the ability of U.S. companies to sell their products to the U.S. government. Very few U.S. products today are 100 percent American. Supply chains of U.S. companies are increasingly global, meaning that even products manufactured within the United States are likely to have non-U.S. components or materials. Today, U.S. companies selling equipment to the U.S. government containing non-U.S. content from a GPA signatory country are not subject to the Buy American Act. However, if the United States were to withdraw from GPA, Buy American regulations would apply, potentially disqualifying U.S. companies from selling products that contain foreign content to the U.S. government.

Participation in the GPA not only maintains U.S. companies’ ability to compete for foreign contracts, it also gives the U.S. government leverage to negotiate greater market access under better terms by seeking to expand coverage. This may be particularly important as economies grow around the world and begin to spend higher percentages of their budgets on government procurement. Also, the race is on to set technology standards around the world such as 5G. If U.S. companies cannot bid to secure government contracts, they may find themselves on the outside of key growth markets, ceding them to competitors from Europe, Canada, Japan and China.

Another way to improve the WTO

While the global trade rules in the GPA seem like an arcane subject, the agreement has had a profound impact on government procurement practices globally. It opened an enormous government procurement market for the signatory countries – including the United States – and created a set of open and transparent regulations that even non-signatories countries work toward. Working within the agreement to improve and expand coverage would benefit U.S. suppliers not just to compete overseas, but to compete for contracts here at home.

__________________________________________________________________

Orit headshot

Orit Frenkel is the Executive Director of the American Leadership Initiative, which is advancing a new smart power paradigm of American global leadership. She is also the President of Frenkel Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in trade and Asia. Previously she spent 26 years as an executive for GE and before that as a trade negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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

tax

Responding to an Evolving Global Tax Landscape

Over the last decade, we’ve seen nations start to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalization of their economies. They want to ensure that multinational enterprises conducting significant business in places where they do not have a physical presence be taxed in such jurisdictions. And, like any tax reform proposal, consensus can be hard to reach because there is so much at stake.

Look no further than the digital tax France aimed at Facebook, Google, and other American technology giants. French lawmakers voted to impose a 3% tax on revenues that companies make from providing digital services to French users. The country estimated that the tax would raise more than $500 million, helping fill a budget hole as more commerce moves online.

Italy, Austria, and Turkey also have imposed their own digital services taxes on large tech firms, and several other European nations, including the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, and Spain, have announced intentions to implement such a tax. These countries are frustrated by failure to reach a consensus on a digital tax across the broader European Union.

The national policies on digital taxes have drawn the ire of many businesses and political leaders at a time of heightened tensions over global trade. After decades of flourishing globalization, the specter of higher taxes threatens to complicate long-standing trade pacts and add complexity to the operations of multinationals.

The French digital tax angered the Trump administration, which threatened to retaliate with tariffs on a range of French goods. The two sides struck a truce last month, where France agreed to suspend the tax.

All the uncertainty isn’t good for tax planning. Businesses must rethink how their operations are being taxed internationally. This will result in strategic conversations that go further than the tax department, affecting the way businesses operate internationally.

Many U.S. multinationals are still coming to grips with Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which made taxation on global intellectual property much more complex.

In light of these changes, we’ve seen businesses in jurisdictions across the world change their tax strategies to abide by filing laws in their primary country of operations as well as countries they’ve expanded into.

Case by Case: Responding to Evolving Tax Policies

As businesses continue their overseas expansion in 2020 and beyond, it’s imperative to adhere to these policies to ensure compliance with tax filings across multiple jurisdictions. Businesses have made these new policies a priority as they prime themselves to not only respond to tax policy changes, but also anticipate forthcoming changes that may arise in the coming years.

For companies that have already abided by new international tax policies, we are seeing these changes develop in a few different ways.

Take the United States, for instance. Under their hybrid-territorial tax system, companies based in the United States can invest their earnings into lower-tax foreign countries to ultimately see a reduced tax obligation. Digital taxes would serve as a counter to this, taxing American companies for their digital operations within their jurisdictions regardless of lower-tax investments. As such, we see the potential for American companies to adapt their tax filings to retain the lower-tax investment benefits.

Some businesses have had an easier time than others adapting to this policy evolution over the last five years. France, for example, has seen difficulty from foreign companies operating within its jurisdiction as they report to a separate financial tax administration with a completely different set of processes that often aren’t as modern or up-to-date. Now that France has backed down on its digital tax, these difficulties may very well continue.

Moving Forward: What to Expect

But the fight to tax the digital economy isn’t going away. Even some critics have called for a more unified approach, rather than country-by-country legislation.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is trying to get nearly 140 countries to agree on a plan to modernize tax policies to keep pace with the digital economy. But the slow pace of talks has frustrated many nations, and a global agreement may be years away.

For policies that we’ll see moving forward, we can expect businesses will continue to geographically strategize their tax filings for 1) global tax compliance either in response to, or in anticipation of, updated digital tax policies, and 2) maintaining adequate tax revenues in light of increased taxation as a result of these policies.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether a reciprocating effect will occur – that is, if business adaption to digital tax laws encourage the evolution of said laws to further ensure tax compliance. One thing is certain, however, that the only constant in international tax law is change… and businesses need to be proactive in the way they prepare and respond to these changes.

Businesses should take a holistic approach to ensure their global operations are compliant with all jurisdictions they operate within. Whether that constitutes an internal evaluation of present tax filing processes or a consultation with their professional accounting team to determine the best course of action in light of a potential new policy adoption should be to their discretion and may be dependent on the jurisdictions in question.

__________________________________________________________________

Jason Gerlis is Global Head of Consultancy Solutions for TMF Group in the Americas.

USMCA

A Vote on USMCA is a Vote for Predictability

For all their legal nuance, trade agreements are written to make commerce more predictable. The rules are meant to increase business confidence, boost investment and spur job creation. It’s time for Congress to show bipartisan support for a more predictable North American market, and pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

USMCA is a much-needed upgrade of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a text that was largely copied over from the US-Canada bilateral trade agreement signed in 1988. To say that NAFTA is outdated is an understatement. Canada and Mexico have concluded trade deals with other countries that do things NAFTA could have never anticipated 25 years ago. USMCA is needed just to keep up.

Three chapters of USMCA deserve far more attention than they’ve received.

First, the chapter on health and safety standards is a must for US agriculture. The biggest threat to our ranchers and farmers is a lack of science-based import regimes abroad, not tariffs.

Tariffs are a tax on trade, whereas health and safety standards, applied in a non-scientific or in a discriminatory way, can act as a ban trade. US agricultural exporters have long demanded more science-based approaches to what are called sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and USMCA delivers on this. USMCA also puts forward a number of consultative mechanisms that will help prevent certain market access problems from arising in the first place.

US agriculture needs Chapter 9 of the USMCA.

Second, the chapter on technical barriers to trade is essential for US manufacturers. It covers the regulatory measures that impact over 90 percent of goods exports from the United States. This is fertile ground for protectionism. Governments can easily use regulatory measures, or ways of assessing conformity with them, that shield domestic producers from import competition. In fact, they can completely shut down trade with a few strokes of the legislative pen.

In USMCA, American manufacturers have more of a voice in the regulatory process in Canada and Mexico concerning their exports. Importantly, USMCA also calls on the three countries to recognize that, in setting technical specifications, performance, and not the provenance of the regulation, is what should matter. This is a longstanding US demand, and USMCA represents a tangible win for US exporters in this regard.

American manufacturing needs Chapter 10 of USMCA.

Third, the chapter on intellectual property is upgraded to reflect the needs of a building a creative economy. The list of international agreements that inform USMCA is striking; many didn’t exist in 1994, never mind in 1988. Copyright protections are modernized, as are those for biologics, a type of drug that could not have been imagined when NAFTA was negotiated. Whereas patents, alone, could help stimulate investment in small molecule drugs, they aren’t enough for the living systems that define biologics. USMCA brings Canada and Mexico closer to the US standard, and in this regard increases protection of American IP abroad.

Other IP provisions will assist a variety of America’s creative industries, from film to fashion to iPhones. These modernized rules, along with consultative mechanisms to ensure a level playing field, will provide the kind of protections that inventors need to bring their ideas to market. This is a win.

America’s creative industries need Chapter 20 of USMCA.

Still, there are some who, while recognizing the benefits of USMCA, worry that the deal cannot effectively enforce labor and environmental standards. They shouldn’t be. The provisions are as good as anything in the EU-Mexico trade agreement, for example, and Europe is renowned for having high expectations on both fronts, both domestically and internationally.

Polls show that, regardless of party, American voters are more supportive of free trade now than ever before. Democrats, Independents and Republicans converge around 80 percent in favor. Polls also show that USMCA has bipartisan backing.

The United States is part of a North American market that thrives on predictability. It’s time for Congress to unite behind USMCA and deliver predictability.

_________________________________________________________

Marc L. Busch is the Karl F. Landegger Professor of International Business Diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

tax haven

How to Move to a Tax Haven

 In today’s hyper-competitive global market with rising costs and increasing challenges, saving on taxes can make or break a business and can mean the difference between a secure financial future or just “getting by.”

Increased tax burdens and unfavorable tax laws have left many individuals (perhaps even yourself) seeking what are known as “Tax Havens.”  As the name so blatantly suggests, “tax havens” are those countries or places with extremely low “effective” tax rates that foreign investors can take advantage of.

Seeking the citizenship of any of the tax havens can significantly reduce one’s tax burdens. However, in the process, moving to or partially residing in the country is often required; this might be seen as a downside for many investors who don’t wish to leave their home country. However, this is not always the case as there are many citizenship by investment programs that don’t have a minimum residency requirement. 

Below, we’ll help you explore several tax havens and understand how will they benefit you and your family in the process of tax planning. 

Which Tax Haven Countries can Business Owners Move to?

Business owners are often hit hard by heavily taxed countries, making tax havens an attractive option. If executed correctly, there are a number of legally viable ways, such as offshore accounts and shell companies, that business owners can reduce tax their liabilities. 

For example, investing through a company or trust that has been organized in a tax haven is perfectly legal as long as all compliance and regulatory requirements are met. Yet not all countries are a good fit for business owners.

Popular Tax Havens Often Cited Include: Luxembourg, The Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey (the island NOT the city), Ireland, Mauritius, Bermuda, Switzerland, Monaco, and the Bahamas 

Although the aforementioned countries tend to get most of the spotlight when it comes to tax havens, they are by no means the only options. In fact, a number of other countries provide measurable tax benefits while also providing other opportunities such as second citizenship and passports that allow investors to enjoy greater freedom of travel, especially for those from Middle Eastern countries where travel restrictions may be an issue.

What are MENA Tax Havens? 

MENA Tax Havens refer to those countries or locations that are open to accommodate the needs of those from Middle East and North African regions. The term MENA covers a vast geography stretching from Morocco to Iran and includes all Maghreb and Mashriq countries. The term is also synonymous or may alternatively be referred to as the “Greater Middle East”.

Popular MENA Tax Havens Include

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Since 2008 there has been a global crackdown on offshore finance and the secrecy that is often associated with tax havens. Political pressure and threats of sanctions from major world powers have forced many countries to open up their books, but not this little dual-island nation.

Investors in Saint Kitts and Nevis can unlock countless business opportunities by being able to open offshore bank accounts and companies while maintaining absolute anonymity and privacy of ownership. Furthermore, Saint Kitts and Nevis’ tax climate imposes 0% tax on global income, inheritance and gifts which makes the island a perfect investment destination for tax planning.

Also, it is worth mentioning that Saint Kitts and Nevis is an island with magnificent nature and climate that draws thousands of tourists each year. Dotted with golden beaches and ringed tropical volcanoes, Saint Kitts and Nevis is an attractive option for citizenship by investment. 

Saint Lucia

A premier destination for those seeking offshore banking and financial products. The diversity of its financial offerings and incentives has made St. Lucia an attractive option for many businesses and wealthy individuals. Options include offshore bank accounts, trusts, corporations and more.

Best of all, the island touts the “absolute” confidentiality of client details and the security of all companies formed in the jurisdiction. As an added benefit, the islands have a long-standing, good reputation and have never been blacklisted or placed under international scrutiny from foreign governments to disclose details of its operations.

In addition to anonymity, the island promotes an easy incorporation process, low yearly fees, flexible share structures, no minimum share capital requirement, ZERO or low tax (1% if elected), absence of tax treaties, English Common Law System, and more.

Antigua & Barbuda

The Caribbean is known for its lucrative tax havens, and Antigua is no exception. Antigua, the largest of the Leeward Islands and its neighboring island Barbuda are often favored among businesses looking to legally reduce tax liabilities. 

Antigua is a vibrant tourist destination, celebrated for its immaculate beaches and tropical weather. What many individuals may not realize, however, is that Antigua has developed a strong reputation for being a favorable tax haven. Local services include international business incorporation, the formation of trusts, offshore banking and more. Regulated by the Antigua Financial Services (AFSR), the island boasts a very favorable tax regime with a fifty-year local tax exemption on capital gains tax, estate tax, inheritance tax, and local income tax for revenue earned outside of Antigua.

Grenada

Over 2 million years ago the little island of Grenada was actually an underwater volcano. Today, the nation, comprised of around 340+ square kilometers and inhabited by an estimated 110,000 people, is known as the “island of spice”, with exports ranging from nutmeg and mace to ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.

Although tourism is the leading industry for Grenada, the nation is also known for being a favored tax haven among savvy business owner. Grenada is favored for its corporate privacy and Citizenship by Investment Program, providing numerous tax benefits. Furthermore, the country offers no withholding tax, no transfer tax, no tax on capital gains, no inheritance or estate tax, and a 20 years’ tax exemption for offshore companies among other benefits.

Other Prospective MENA Tax Havens

Other prospective tax havens worth mentioning include Malta (although it isn’t straightforward) , Dominica, Cyprus, Portugal, and Greece.

Personal Tax Benefit of Making the Move 

The appeal of making the move to a tax haven isn’t only due to corporate benefits. Individuals invest in a tax haven in order to reduce personal tax liability on interest, personal income, inheritance, capital gains and more. Those wealthy enough stand to save millions of dollars by leveraging these legal loopholes and incentives.

Corporate Tax Considerations

Although the primary focus of most corporations is to save on taxes by reducing tax liability, there are a number of other considerations that must be taken into account. For example, what is the process like? Does your corporation qualify? What types of fees are involved? Is residency required? What will the ongoing costs of maintaining your corporation’s status in the haven look like and what will this cost you? Are there any regulatory, political or socioeconomic dangers or risks in the region? 

These are just a few points to consider before taking the plunge.

How Will Making the Move Affect US Citizenship?

Generally speaking, US citizens and permanent residents are taxed by the IRS regardless of where they are physically residing. While the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion does offer a bit of relief, anyone earning over $105,900 in active income per year won’t be able to avoid taxation. 

Moving to another country will not impact US Citizenship. However, those seeking to pay zero or close to zero taxes may find it useful to obtain second citizenship in any tax haven of their choice while also renouncing their US citizenship.

Bear in mind that the USA is the only country that enforces taxation based solely on the citizenship of the individual in question.

Closing Thoughts on Moving to a Tax Haven

There are many misconceptions regarding what it means to move to a tax haven, however, with the help of professional services that deal with these transitions you can largely avoid all of the potential pitfalls while reaping the many rewards.

____________________________________________________________________

Rasha Seikaly, an IMC member, is Bluemina’s Head of Marketing. Bluemina provides families, individuals, and investors with the best and most expedited Citizenship and Residency by investment programs