FOR THE ROMANTIC
Whether you favor green, black, oolong or white tea, all originate from the plant Camellia sinensis. It’s the soil, atmosphere and method of processing that confer different tastes, colors and scents. Tea traded globally is grown on large plantations in more than 30 countries. The four biggest producers are China, India, Kenya and Sri Lanka. This sampler of dissolvable “tea drops” includes citrus ginger, blueberry acai, rose earl grey, sweet peppermint, and matcha green tea made from teas sourced around the world but hand assembled by in Los Angeles, California.
FOR THE GOURMAND
Artisinal Chocolate Bars:
Cacao grows close to the equator in places like Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Madagascar. Askinosie, a family-owned chocolatier in Springfield, Missouri offers dark chocolate bars sourced from women farmers in Tanzania. Harper Macaw of Washington, DC blends Brazilian cacao and Brazilian coffee beans roasted in Annapolis, Maryland to produce its milk chocolate Coffee Bar. Madecasse was founded by former American Peace Corps volunteers. It makes 92 percent pure dark bars in Madagascar from local cacao. Marou is truly small artisanal chocolate maker that works with small farmers to help Vietnam become the newest producer of cacao in the world.
Your sweater begins as the coat of a cashmere goat. Named for their origin in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, cashmere-producing breeds also thrive in Australia and throughout China. Among the most famous are the Zalaa Ginst white goat of Mongolia and the Tibetan Plateau goat. Some $1.4 billion in cashmere garments are traded globally each year. Top manufacturers hail from Scotland and Italy, but these days you can find “cashmere-blends” on discount racks in U.S. fast fashion stores.
Homemade Hot Sauce:
If you’re going to try your hand at it, you’ll need two key ingredients – chili peppers and spices. Chili peppers grow in the United States but Capsicum annuum was originally domesticated in Mesoamerica, a region that extends from Central Mexico to Central America. After Spanish colonists returned with it to Europe, hot peppers traveled the globe swiftly on Portuguese trade routes to spice-loving India through the Portuguese-controlled port of Goa, and from there, over the Himalayas to Sichuan, China.
FOR THE PRAGMATIST
A Pair of Necessities:
Some people like receiving the essentials – from underwear to appliances. Many of our undergarments come to the United States from Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern coast of India. Home to some 22 million people, Sri Lanka produces for major global brands like Victoria’s Secret, Gap, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M and more. The (still) popular Instant Pot is manufactured in China but was invented by Robert Wang, a former software engineer from Canada who applied his knowledge of microprocessors and sensors to the science of not burning dinner.
FOR THE TRENDY
A Small-Batch, Globe-Trotting Bourbon:
Why not support American whiskey, which has been hard hit in overseas markets by retaliatory tariffs. Jefferson’s Ocean is the brainchild of Jefferson’s, a Kentucky artisan distillery. Barrels of bourbon hitch a boat ride on a shark-tagging research vessel, crossing the equator four times, visiting over 30 ports on five continents. The temperature fluctuations, salt water air exposure, and constant motion of the ship during the journey renders a thick, dark bourbon with caramel flavors and a briny scent.
FOR THE RE-USER
Silicone Lunch Boxes and Nylon Bags:
We’ve written before about the silicon in sand which can be made into the tiny individual semiconductor chips that get embedded into our globally trade devices. Silicone, on the other hand, is a rubberlike plastic increasingly used in food storage, transportation and reheating, due to its low toxicity and high heat resistance. Food52 makes a colorful container with a silicone sleeve that is, according to the manufacturer, “just right for layering miso salmon and spinach over black rice.” No bag lunch for the modern hipster.
Baggu is a re-usable shopping bag made from lightweight ripstop nylon that comes in a variety of bold colors and prints. The synthetic polymer known as nylon was first produced in United States, born of the need to find alternatives to silk and hemp for parachutes in World War II. Today, China is the largest exporter of nylon.
FOR THE “VSCO GIRL”
If you’re not familiar with the term, you probably don’t have a teenager in your home. VSCO is a popular photo editing app that many social sharers use before posting on Instagram or other platforms. The term “VSCO girl” has been adopted to describe some of the latest teen fashion trends and must-haves for the middle and high school hallways.
Here are some of the essentials you might give the VSCO girl in your life, beginning with a Fjullraven Swedish backpack to put it all in. Add to it some Glossier Lip Balms if you care about transparency in the global supply chain of your makeup, a Hydroflask made of pro-grade 18/8 stainless steel (are there tariffs on that stainless steel?), some Pura Vida jewelry from Costa Rica, and an Instax camera from Japanese maker Fujifilm. Where do VSCO girls hang out when they aren’t in school? On TikTok, of course. There are some 422.4 million videos on Chinese app TikTok tagged #vscogirl.
Whatever you buy for the holidays this year, chances are, there’s a global trade aspect to your gift-gifting. As we like to say at TradeVistas, “see the trade in everything.” Happy holidays.
Note: Neither the author nor TradeVistas’ sponsor endorses the above-mentioned products. We merely seek to illustrate the global trade dimension in popular gifts this season.
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 fourteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.