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Shippers Capitalize on Deep-Water Improvements

shippers

Shippers Capitalize on Deep-Water Improvements

Shipping lines have responded to containerized trade growth by increasing vessel size, which has resulted in fewer port calls to move the same number of containers. And larger vessel sizes also limit which ports can be called due to insufficient access channel depths and air drafts as well as cranes to serve the biggest ships.

“A useful proxy is the average size of containerships transiting the Panama Canal—which increased by 13.1 percent during the canal’s most recent fiscal year (ended Sept. 30, 2018),” states Cushman & Wakefield’s 2019 North American Port Outlook. “The Panama Canal Authority reports that its Neopanamax Locks can now handle ships of almost 15,000 TEUs. Large ship visits are now increasingly common at East Coast ports that have the requisite water depths in channels and at berths. How large will vessels get? Orders have been placed for ships as large as 23,000 TEUs.”

The industry trend toward larger vessels has caused ports to literally dig deeper, particularly on the East Coast. Port of Miami last year completed $1 billion in infrastructure improvements that increased the channel depth to 50-52 feet and also included the addition of a fast access tunnel with direct access to the interstate, the modernization of the on-dock freight rail system and the installation of new Super Post-Panamax cranes that have an outreach of 22 containers wide. Among the projects at other East Coast ports that got underway in 2019 were:

*The $32.7 million deepenings of a second container berth to 50 feet at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, which should be done later this year.

*Port of Jacksonville’s Harbor Deepening, which will take the shipping channel to a depth of 47 feet, is expected to conclude in 2023, as is a coinciding project to construct a $238.7 million international container terminal at Blount Island. JAXPORT has already widened Mile Point Harbor (only mitigation work was outstanding at press time), and turning basins at Brills Cut, which is authorized and under review, and Blount Island, which is in the design phase, are also part of the deepening project.

*Port of Virginia increasing the channel depth to: 59 feet in the Atlantic Ocean Channel; 56 feet at Thimble Shoals; and
55 feet in the Norfolk Harbor and Newport News Channels. It also includes widening the channel in select areas to include Thimble Shoals over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Deepening the Port of Charleston’s Harbor Entrance Channel up to its busiest container terminal, the Wando Welch, is expected by early 2021 and will allow the port to handle 14,000 to 18,000 TEU vessels drawing 50 feet or more without significant depth and other navigational restrictions. Port Everglades’ widening and deepening of navigation channels from 42 feet to 48-50 feet is expected to be completed between 2021-2025. The Georgia Ports Authority’s deepening of Savannah Harbor and its shipping channel from an authorized depth of 44 feet to 47 feet is slated for completion by late 2021 or early 2022.

As ports scramble to accommodate the biggest ships, some shippers have already been taking advantage of their arrival. As the Georgia Ports Authority announced in December it was on track to exceed 4.6 million TEUs for the first time in a calendar year, GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight remarked, “Exciting new business opportunities such as the export of the Georgia-made Kia Telluride, and resins produced in Pennsylvania and the Gulf States, as well as the import of cold-treated fresh produce, are driving the increase in trade through our deepwater ports.”

In roll-on/roll-off cargo, Colonel’s Island Terminal at the GPA’s Port of Brunswick handled 500,512 units of cars, trucks and tractors from January through October 2019. Ocean Terminal in Savannah added another 37,476 for a total of 537,988 units. As of December, total Ro/Ro trade was up for the year by 3,300 units, helping to make Georgia is the second busiest U.S. hub for the import-export of Ro/Ro cargo behind only Baltimore.

Another milestone was the GPA’s decade of partnership with Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG), which has shipped nearly 350,000 TEU of parts and materials through the Port of Savannah to supply its manufacturing plant near the town of West Point, supporting thousands of jobs in Georgia’s transportation and logistics supply chain. Kia also sends shipments in the other direction with overseas exports of the American-made Kia SUV, the Telluride.

“From the first production equipment arriving at the Port of Savannah in 2008 to the first Kia Telluride exports that left the Port of Brunswick this past February (2019), KMMG, the Georgia Ports Authority and the State of Georgia have maintained a strong bond,” said KMMG President and CEO Jason Shin in a statement.

February 2019 was also momentous for Port Manatee, which is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal. Then-new terminal operator Carver Maritime Manatee LLC on Feb. 6 brought nearly 50,000 tons of raw material to be used in Florida cement manufacturing. The 47,650 metric tons of the bulk material brought from Europe on the Osprey I to the Central-Southwest Florida Gulf Coast port was soon followed by other Carver shipments.

As part of an agreement with Port Manatee that could extend for as many as 20 years, Carver has extensively renovated a 10-acre cargo facility with deepwater access, including rehabilitating a 1,400-foot-long conveyor system on the leased site. “We are delighted to have Carver as an active participant in the expansion of our port,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director, at the time. “Carver’s operations are a perfect complement to the increasingly diverse activity taking place at Manatee County’s seaport.”

Taking advantage of deepwater ports is not confined to the East Coast, however. In Washington state, the Port of Vancouver USA received the largest single shipment of wind turbine blades in the history blade manufacturer Vestas on June 24, 2019, breaking the previous record of 156 blades on a single ship.

The 198 blades, each measuring 161 feet long, were manufactured and shipped from Italy. Once unloaded from the ship, the blades were moved to the port’s Terminal 5, which boasts 86 acres of unobstructed laydown area with immediate proximity to the port’s deep-water berths. From there, the blades were transported by truck to the Marengo wind farm near Dayton, Washington, where they are now being used to re-power existing turbines.

“With our North American headquarters based in Portland, it is especially gratifying to be part of bringing the environmental and economic benefits of wind energy to the Pacific Northwest,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas North America, which partnered with project owner PacifiCorp on the blade shipment. “The arrival of this shipment and its 198 blades, represent the significant supply chain industry and jobs created and supported by the wind energy economy.  We’re proud to partner with PacifiCorp and the Port to bring more wind energy benefits to Washington.”

Shrugged Vancouver USA’s Chief Commercial Officer Alex Strogen, “The port is uniquely qualified to handle these types of projects.”

 

european

European Greenhouse: What Climate Change and Green Politics Mean for Business in Europe

France, Germany and the Netherlands broke 40-year temperature records this year. Traditional wine areas, such as Bordeaux, have had to accept new grape types into the area for the first time in 80 years to combat the devastating impact of new weather patterns. In Germany and other central European countries, large swaths of forest died off this summer due to climate conditions. 

This summer of extreme weather follows on the heels of a dramatic gain in Green party popularity during and after the spring European parliament elections. What does this mean for companies that do business in the European Union? How will markets and regulations change in the near future as a result of rising concern over climate change across the Atlantic?  

European voters (and consumers) and highly concerned about climate change, with many of them naming climate change as the greatest threat to world security. Equally important, there are substantially fewer people in European Union member states who doubt the impact that climate change is having on the world compared to countries such as the United States. 

In a recent poll, thirteen percent of U.S. respondents expressed doubt over the existence of climate change or that it was due to human influence. This American response was the highest level of skepticism in the developed world; double that of Germany or France, and much higher than other countries such as Spain, where polls have shown as little as 2% of the population voicing any doubt as to the reality and danger of climate change.

Why Europe having fewer skeptics matters

Extreme weather in the summer is not a new issue in Europe. The heat wave of 2003 was estimated to have killed as many as 30,000 people in Europe due to the lack of air conditioning and infrastructure to care for those vulnerable to heat strokes, such as the elderly. The heat wave that broke records across the EU this summer was even hotter. These weather changes, hand-in-hand with the sudden surge in Green party success in EU and national elections, underscore that there is both pressing concern over climate change and a willingness to prioritize it among voters. 

Without climate deniers across the political aisle to delay or weaken environmentally-oriented legislation, it is likely that the business environment will soon be dramatically changed as the EU and member state governments adjust policies and regulations to combat climate change and protect their populations from future extreme weather.

Why the ‘American solution’ won’t work and building styles won’t change

The U.S. has extreme heat on a constant basis in places like Arizona and Texas, but the classical solution – to air condition every building – will not work in Europe because energy costs are twice the U.S. average and likely to rise quickly as governments are forced to switch to more expensive (in the short-term) renewable sources. The EU’s renewable energy directive was modified in 2018 to establish a 32% renewable energy target for 2030, which will likely keep energy prices high as more investments are needed to help develop renewable sources such as solar, wave and wind energy ‘farms’.  

Logical efforts to change building materials and styles to improve the ambient temperatures for residents are near impossible to implement in established cities in Europe. Traditional building styles that are intended to save on heating costs by trapping air inside often exacerbate heat waves since these buildings cannot effectively cool. New materials and building styles in the suburbs offer energy-efficient solutions to newer areas, but traditional architectural areas in downtown Prague, Rome and Paris are poorly positioned to embrace these options. It is inevitable that air conditioning use will increase (currently only 5% of European buildings are equipped with air conditioning, compared to 90% in the U.S.) but based on electricity costs and emission reduction goals in the EU, it is only a partial answer to the extreme weather problem.  Europe must find its own solution, and this search for alternatives will open up new opportunities for innovative companies.

What business opportunities appear as Europe combats climate change?

How will consumer habits change in the face of public concern over emissions and fears over ever-worsening extreme weather? What new business opportunities can we expect to see in Europe as Green-leaning governments and climate-conscious voters bring wholesale changes to the regulatory structure of the European Union in an attempt to combat climate change? Three areas of interest jump out: new government and venture capital funding for innovation, sharply increased transportation costs which will change logistics patterns and purchasing habits, and dramatic shifts to the land use and building traditions which should open up opportunities to U.S. companies.

Innovation will be valued and funded as never before

According to the Global Innovation Index for this year, seven of the top ten most innovative nations are located in Europe, and yet the U.S. (number three on the Index) outspent Europe on research and development by 20%. That is not to say that Europe is not investing in climate change innovation. On the contrary, in 2018, the European Investment Bank committed over 16 billion Euros to combating climate change, a number which has increased each year for a decade. Over $23 billion (US) was invested in innovative new European companies through venture capitalism last year alone.  These numbers will shoot up in the years to come as governments scramble to support new solutions to extreme weather challenges and climate change. 

The EU has already announced plans to focus on battery innovation and production, and will legislate an increasing use of renewables; supporting wind, wave and solar power projects to reduce oil, gas and coal use. Cleantech and Greentech projects are surging in clusters such as Cambridge, Copenhagen and Rotterdam. But there is a need for even more venture capital, and a growing recognition that governments will have to step in and add to research and start-up funding, as well as help scale up successful companies to compete regionally and globally.

A dramatic increase in transportation costs will shift production and consumer habits

Much like in the U.S., many European companies have a tendency to source materials and production overseas to lower costs. Unlike the U.S., they have generally been able to avoid the impact of the U.S.-China trade war. However, this breather is short-lived, as the EU seems to recognize the cost of transportation to society in the way of pollution and congestion and is likely going to be forced to ramp up emissions taxes in the near future, which will impact both the external and internal movement of goods. This, in turn, will force companies to recalibrate their logistics and likely move production closer to the point of sale. 

Companies will find that supporting local production becomes more reasonable as transportation costs go up, and EU member states with lower labor costs (under 10 euros an hour) such as Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria should begin to see production facilities become more competitive compared to Asia as shipping costs increase in the face of emission taxes. Companies that were previously exporting goods into Europe will find that shifting production to Europe in support of EU clients is going to become substantially more cost-friendly (with the added advantage of avoiding import tariffs, should the global trade war broaden).

Land use and building codes are going to shift dramatically

A recent international climate change report supported what European farmers already have experienced: drought and extreme heat are forcing a rethink as to what is produced in Europe and how.  Climate change activists and consumer groups are also dragging EU trade agreements into the spotlight as countries like Brazil are accused of dramatically harming the global environment through wasteful agricultural practices – in part to increase beef sales to Europe. Increasing focus on how land is used and food produced in Europe will open up opportunities for innovative producers and new products (such as meat alternatives) in the European market. At the same time, European builders of new developments are being forced by regulations and consumer sentiment to use more environmentally-friendly materials and styles. 

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification has become a benchmark in Europe as well, and U.S. companies with know-how in this area of construction and building design can find robust new markets and development and construction partners throughout the EU who will be challenged by new regulations and public scrutiny to ‘green’ up their building projects.

Environmental challenges mean new opportunities for savvy companies

Changes in consumer demands and regulations imposed from the EU to the local level will open doors for companies that can bring in new, efficient and effective products. Governments attempting to be responsive to extreme weather challenges without taxing their voting population too directly (which is what sparked the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France) will demand more energy-efficient products and processes from businesses. Innovative companies, ready to expand and take on new challenges, will find it relatively quick and painless to register in the European market to take advantage of the possibilities that are manifesting due to environmental and consumer changes.   

____________________________________________________________

Kirk Samson is the owner of Samson Atlantic LLC, a Chicago-based international business consulting company which offers market research, political risk assessment, and international negotiations assistance.  Mr. Samson is a former U.S. diplomat and international law advisor who lived and worked in ten different countries.

cargo

Logistics Experts Take to the Skies for Air-Cargo Solutions

A major U.S. air carrier sought to fill the void caused by leading same-day delivery services implementing their own fleets in the sky. A Midwest zoo needed to fly in from the West Coast its newest tenants. And a growing air cargo company required logistical expertise to take itself to the next level.  

Whether it’s managing airborne cargo networks, moving animals across the country or breaking air carriers into the delivery business, seasoned logistics professionals proved they were on it. Witness the following air cargo solutions.

Delta Cargo and Roadie

With UPS, FedEx and Amazon having acquired their own planes in recent years to cut down on costs associated with booking flights on major air carriers, Delta Cargo recently turned the tables by getting into the ground transportation business. Based in Atlanta, Delta partnered with Roadie, a local same-day delivery service, to recently launch DASH Door-to-Door and mark an industry-first for a U.S. passenger airline.

The 24/7 pick-up and delivery service, from your business or home, is available from Atlanta to around 60 U.S. cities with more being added all the time. Pairing TSA-approved drivers with air cargo, Delta Cargo and Roadie boast that DASH is the fastest cross-country door-to-door service in the country—and that it’s competitively priced. 

Matt Weisenburg, Delta’s director of Cargo Strategy and Alliances, referred to DASH Door-to-Door as “a game-changer” for Delta, as Roadie has more than 150,000 verified drivers and the largest local same-day delivery footprint nationwide, reaching 89 percent of all U.S. households. DASH includes handling of time-critical shipments in industries including medical, manufacturing, automotive, industrial parts and more. 

 “Customers want what they want when they want it,” said Marc Gorlin, Roadie’s founder and CEO. “This partnership means we can deliver—whether it’s across town or across the country.”

Brookfield Zoo and FedEx

A female sea lion, about age 2, was found in May 2018 at Westward Beach in Malibu, California, where she was unable to care for herself after being weaned from her mother. When staff from the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro rescued her, the sea lion was severely underweight, extremely malnourished and suffering from multiple puncture wounds and fishhooks in her body and one of her eyes, which led to a ruptured cornea. Vision in her good eye was limited.

Six months later and about 90 miles away in Dana Point, California, a second female sea lion, also about 2, was found dehydrated, malnourished and obviously unable to fend for herself. Rescuers from Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach discovered she had lacerations on one of her flippers and chest from a possible boat propeller or predator bite. X-rays later revealed she had 30 to 40 stones in her stomach and, once those passed, she started eating again and was released back to the wild in January 2019. But a month later she was found again at Dana Point Harbor looking emaciated, and a new exam revealed she had a cataract in her right eye.

Experts agreed neither sea lion could survive in the wild, so the respective mammal care centers began looking for permanent homes for them. The National Marine Fisheries Service reached out to Chicago Zoological Society, which agreed that Brookfield Zoo could take in the sea lions. They were introduced to each other at the Laguna Beach mammal center, and animal care specialists from the Chicago zoo flew to California to meet both sea lions, get familiar with their distinct personalities and make arrangements to take them back to Illinois. 

FedEx generously supplied the plane with the precious cargo aboard that arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Sept. 18, 2019. The zoo named one sea lion Carolyn after Carolyn Frisch, the FedEx employee who made the travel arrangements. The second sea lion was named Sabiena (pronounced Sa-bean-ah) after Sabiena Foster, FedEx’s Chicago regional communications manager and the company’s No. 1 community volunteer.

Frisch and Dan Englund, who together manage the FedEx Live Animal Desk, have a combined 60 years+ experience in moving animals around the world. “I’ve gone to the Brookfield Zoo as a child, have visited with my own children and now I have a namesake there!” said an excited Frisch. “In my 30 years of shipping animals, I’ve never been so honored. There could be no greater acknowledgement of the long-standing relationship I’ve had with the Brookfield Zoo.”

Menzies Aviation and Hermes Logistics Technologies

Operating cargo handling facilities in nearly 40 airports across six continents and handling more than 1.6 million tons of cargo in 2018, Menzies Aviation needed a Cargo Management System (CMS) for its global network. The London Heathrow-based company recently selected the flagship CMS from Hermes Logistics Technologies, the UK’s leading consumer delivery specialist. 

Hermes 5 (H5), the latest version of the CMS, was scheduled to be rolled out at Menzies cargo facilities during the current first quarter. The standardization and open connectivity of the H5 platform allows for complete compatibility and data-sharing across all Menzies’ logistics facilities and services, which cater to customers small, medium and large.

“After benchmarking the industry, we selected H5 as our cargo management system because it was clear Hermes offers the most advanced solutions in the market,” said Robert Fordree, EVP Cargo, Menzies Aviation. “Hermes is in our DNA, we have a shared history and working with them means that we are uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the depth of functionality H5 has to offer.”

Fordree adds that “H5 will be integral to our toolset for achieving our growth trajectory.” Yuval Baruch, CEO of Bracknell, UK-based Hermes, agrees with that sentiment, although he notes Menzies Aviation will be building up “from an already strong foundation.”

Hermes 5 has been adopted by airports, airlines and ground handlers across the globe, including Hanoi Airport, RSA National, LuxairCARGO and CHS Trade in Slovakia since its 2018 launch. “Hermes 5,” Baruch says, “represents the future of cargo management solutions, its open architecture allows for full integration into cargo ecosystems, from warehouses to airports.”

Currently, the CEO and his team are gearing up for the Feb. 14 Hermes Tech Hub in Leeds, where the theme will be, “For the Love of Innovation: How Tech is Driving Personalization in the Retail and Logistics Sector.”

vendor

Reduce Risk in Your Global Shipping Strategy With Vendor Management

Trying to coordinate deliveries to make sure they arrive on time can be a stressful job in today’s volatile shipping landscape.

You need to contend with unexpected shipping cancelations by carriers that are trying to stay profitable. Unpredictable rates caused by too many or too few vessels available at any given time adds to the uncertainty. And if you don’t have complete visibility across your global supply chain, your job is only harder.

Many shippers have found peace of mind by using a global vendor-management program, which combines PO management, global visibility, and shipping consolidation. The program can help you make sure freight arrives on time. And it can help you bring greater savings, consistency, and security to your shipping strategy.

How the Program Works

With a vendor-management program, a logistics provider helps manage both your POs and your global flow of cargo, while serving as a single point of contact between you and carriers.

As POs come in, the provider can calculate when cargo will be picked up and continue to verify that timing as delivery dates near. The provider can also use consolidated shipping to combine your partial shipments with others to create full shipments. This can help you get shipments to their destinations on time, and do so cheaply and efficiently.

With a vendor-management program, you no longer need to arrange multiple order pickups or worry about orders not being ready for pickup.

Instead, you can use the provider’s transportation management system to monitor your current order and shipment statuses in real-time, and see exceptions down to the item level. And if you encounter increased demand or last-minute supply chain outages, you can use the system to reroute freight.

3 Key Benefits to Your Business

A vendor-management program offers you more than the comfort of knowing that your shipments are in good hands. It can also improve your global shipping strategy to help you realize some key benefits.

Lower Costs: There are clear cost benefits of using consolidated shipping. You only pay for the volume of a container that you use rather than paying for a full container that you may not fill. Combining multiple shipments into one can also reduce your customs entries and terminal charges, deliveries, and handling fees.

And the savings only start there. Because you can reduce your supply chain spend even more when you combine a vendor-management program with a provider’s transportation, logistics, warehousing or customs services.

Better Consistency: Global supply chains have more opportunities for service failures. A single point of contact can give you answers and offer alternatives before service failures happen. Customs entries can also be processed more consistently. And fixed weekly schedules that have known transit expectations can make it easier to track your orders.

Greater Security: Less-than-truckload and less-than-container-load freight faces the risk of theft and needs to be secured.

With a vendor-management program, a provider can accept your containers for unloading, consolidation, and reloading. And they can pick up containers at ports and bring them to their facilities for faster, more secure customs clearance. Providers can also run CCTV and seal containers to reduce theft risks.

Choosing a Provider

Make sure the logistics provider you work with can not only understand your unique needs but also turn them into solutions.

For example, shippers have different levels of risk exposure. Limitations of liability, terms, and conditions, and cargo insurance options vary by mode of transport, service type and country.A logistics provider can help you uncover potential liabilities in your supply chain and prepare to manage costs associated with cargo damage or loss. This is why it’s important that you use a provider that has in-house risk-management professionals.

The right provider can also help you manage your regulatory challenges and combine vendor management with your other logistics needs for greater efficiency. Additionally, with businesses, suppliers, and the solutions provider integrated onto the same technology platform, you can gain clear visibility to overall inventory, maintain lower transportation costs, and help ensure on-time deliveries.

Countries require compliance with their own specific set of customs rules, governmental regulations, VAT, duty rate calculations and payment schemes. Even small errors like misspelling on a declaration can lead to fines, penalties or even cargo seizures. For this reason, it’s critical that the logistics provider you choose has regulatory experience in the markets where you do business.

Tailored to Your Needs

Vendor-management programs can be structured in different ways based on what you want to achieve. You could customize it to deliver freight from multiple global suppliers to multiple customers. You could also source all freight for a single company. Or you could use a highly efficient merge-in-transit approach to ship products directly from vendors to customers.

Whatever approach you choose, the end result is the same: Efficient and cost-effective control of your global freight so it arrives on time, wherever you do business.

assets

Protecting Your Assets: Easy ways to Ensure your Money is Kept Secure

What would you say are the biggest risks facing your business? Increasingly strong competition? The possibility of a global financial crash? The threat of global terrorism? Or the ever-present threat of cybercrime?

Some of these ‘risks’ might sound somewhat unlikely or implausible, but even the most optimistic entrepreneurs know that future success is never guaranteed. In order to safeguard future prosperity, proactive planning is absolutely essential, especially when it comes to protecting your assets.

But in spite of a growing list of business threats, sometimes the old ways are the best. More often than not, you can protect your assets with simple habits and age-old strategies.

Pick the Right Business Entity

The first step in protecting your assets is choosing the right business entity. For example, an S corporation or limited liability company provides more protection and will safeguard your money more than a proprietorship.

“There will certainly be multiple tax-planning considerations, but operating as a sole proprietorship definitely isn’t your best choice for asset protection,” says Mark J. Kohler, author of The Tax and Legal Playbook. “As a sole proprietorship, your personal assets are completely exposed to a potential lawsuit.”

Abide by Corporate Principles

From maintaining a separate bank account and checkbook for your business to maintaining records and logging annual meeting minutes, you need to uphold corporate professionalism at all times. 

Locking away the entity’s articles of incorporation in your drawer is all well and good, but it won’t save you if and when you’re subject to a lawsuit. 

Use Correct Procedure 

“One of the easiest ways for creditors to pierce the corporate veil and attack your personal assets is if you act negligently or fraudulently,” says Kohler. This can be avoided by:

-Having lease agreements for rentals

-Putting property and equipment titles in the company name

-Having subcontractor agreements in place

-Never hiring people under the table

-Only using licensed, bonded, and/or insured professionals

-Not relying on emails for terms

Define your Payment Terms

Getting paid and having a healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of every small business. Unfortunately, many invoices are paid late which can have an adverse effect on your business. 

When defining your payment terms, make sure to include details like accepted forms of payment (e.g. yes to business checks, no to credit cards) and late-payment penalties. This will go a long way in protecting your assets and keeping money secure. 

Purchase the Right Insurance

“Insurance is an important part of your business and should be included in your startup budget,” notes Kohler. “Insurance gives you the ability to take care of an incident in your business and gives plaintiffs another target.”

You should also look into umbrella insurance, which can be personal or business and provides $1-2 million in coverage for just $300-500 a year. Just bear in mind that it doesn’t protect you or your assets in every instance including fraudulent, criminal, reckless, or negligent action.

crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, Drones and Why I’ll Never Buy a Bugatti

Amazon has taught me I don’t have to wait for my next two-pack of ravioli cutter stamps, so if you can’t get them to me in under two hours, I know someone else who can. It’s 2019, and customers want what they want, when they want it. According to a recent report, the global last-mile market is now expected to hit $55.2 billion by 2025, up from $30.2 billion today – and it’s no wonder. Amazon’s deep investments in delivery continue to fuel a surge in e-commerce; meanwhile, customer expectations and the entire supply chain have been completely upended.

The good news is that the more retailers invest in delivery, the more their e-commerce revenue grows. For businesses who’ve made supply chain a top priority, it’s huge validation.

So where does that leave us in the race to the doorstep? Companies are throwing cash at everything, from drones to self-driving robots to crowdsourcing. Who’s got the best chance of success? How can each one lower costs, increase speed and mitigate risks? Can they disrupt the industry without being, well… disruptive?

Drones: The droids you’re looking for?

Drones entered the mainstream about five years ago as a cool photography gadget. Thanks to falling prices, they’re a hot item on every kid’s Christmas list this year, but they’ve also generated a lot of buzz about their potential applications for logistics.

In rural areas, drones have huge promise for parcel delivery. They’re already supplementing human workers in large warehouses – flying to far-flung corners to pick goods on high-up shelves. And they’re working out in the freight yard, too, helping to track and manage trucks, trailers and containers.

Companies like UPS, Amazon, Google and even Dominos are experimenting with drones in the last mile. One popular model uses a carrier van on the highway as a hub for an armada of drones that fly out of the back to deliver small parcels to nearby homes. It’s an impressive, futuristic version of hub and spoke. Can it work? At what cost?

Just like commercial aviation and the automobile, drones have major hurdles to navigate, especially when we think about how they’ll work at scale. We’ll need major regulatory oversight to address safety, noise and privacy concerns. We’ll need to build control towers, write better algorithms, improve GPS, and figure out what to do about the weather. But these challenges will likely all be worked out, given enough in time and investment.

Autonomous vehicles and robots: Bots with brains.

What about autonomous cars and robots? Are they more viable in the near term?

McKinsey predicts autonomous vehicles could slash last-mile delivery costs in urban areas by as much as 40 percent. And companies from FedEx to Bosch have made bets on sidewalk delivery bots, deploying prototypes in San Francisco office parks, where they’re tightly controlled.  Long-term, the potential is clear, and companies with the deep pockets to make early bets could save a lot of money in the long run.

Both autonomous cars and bots cost thousands of dollars per unit to manufacture, though, and depend heavily on human supervision and maintenance. When it comes to flexibility and scalability, is a sidewalk droid really that different from a truck? Both are rigid, asset-heavy systems that require a big capex investment upfront with even higher maintenance and upgrade costs over time.

Think of it this way: earlier this year, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan from Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock bought himself a sweet new supercar: a Bugatti. He forked out a cool $2 million for it. But later that day, he was sideswiped by a driver in a Honda CR-V. It was just a minor fender-bender, but it turns out fixing a scratch on a Bugatti costs more than the entire value of the car that hit him – somewhere to the tune of $32,000.

The truth is, even if I had the cash to buy a Bugatti, I could never afford to maintain it. Will a fleet of delivery droids be the same?

Whether it’s drones or robots or some other yet-to-emerge autonomous technology, asset-heavy logistics strategies will always suffer from the same Achilles heel: whether it’s changing wiper blades or switching from lithium batteries to solar – hardware is expensive. And if a new hardware solution can’t solve for the demands of flexibility in the last mile, there will still be a need for something that can.

This doesn’t even take into account all the regulatory hurdles, infrastructure dependencies and real-world obstacles from bikes to baby strollers, pranksters to potholes, larcenists to labor unions.

But what folks aren’t talking about, and what I find most interesting, is the inherent limitations that come with any fixed-asset system.

Drones and robots may well be efficient, and hopefully one day safer. But what happens when a last-minute order comes in and the customer needs delivery now? How do you adjust a pre-planned droid route at the last minute – when the droid has already left the store?

Crowdsourcing: Using an infrastructure that’s already there.

Robots may well be our future, but how do we solve the delivery challenges we have today? That’s where crowdsourcing comes in.

Crowdsourcing lets retailers leverage existing resources already on the road to make delivery faster, more efficient and more flexible. While others are making big bets on drones, our Roadie drivers are delivering gigantic garden gnomes. We’re delivering temperature-controlled medicine that won’t be ready for pickup until 9 p.m. We’re working with Walmart to save busy parents a trip to buy groceries. We’re returning your lost luggage from the airport, and bringing you the ladder you bought online at The Home Depot this morning.

Some of the biggest brands in retail are investing in crowdsourcing. Today, we’re partnering with SMBs and Fortune 100 retailers to deliver everything from makeup to mattresses, paint to puppy food. Businesses across virtually every industry are solving today’s delivery challenges with an asset-light strategy that allows them to experiment and learn. They’re addressing delivery demand today, without making new capital investments or locking themselves into a futures bet with complex hardware systems. And most importantly, they’re not disrupting their existing supply chain in a way that can’t be undone without a huge cost if and when the autonomous tech winners begin to emerge over the next decade or two.

And that’s really the point. Retailers need optionality. Customers want to personalize their delivery for each and every purchase at the point of sale. A great customer experience means having a delivery solution for every customer delivery problem, whether you’re scheduling a sofa delivery on Sunday or sending a rescue inhaler right now. Making that work in the real world means having an arsenal of tools in your delivery toolkit.

We’re solving the problems retailers are having today, at scale – not iterating on solutions that may work at a required scale years in the future. Crowdsourcing is a sustainable solution that ensures we’ll all be around to see what delivery looks like in the future.

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Don Pancho_University for Peace Visit

Marc Gorlin is the Founder and CEO of Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery service that works with consumers, small businesses and national companies across virtually every industry to provide a faster, cheaper, more scalable solution for scheduled, same-day and urgent delivery. With over 150,000 verified drivers, Roadie covers 89% of U.S. households — the largest local same-day delivery footprint in the nation.

blockchain

German-Austrian Trade Transaction Successful on Marco Polo’s Blockchain Platform

The S-Servicepartner, Sparkasse Bielefeld and the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank International, together with Dr. August Wolff GmbH & Co. KG Arzneimittel and its business partner, the pharmaceutical company s.a.m. Pharma Handel GmbH successfully completed a digital trade transaction with a receivables-based financing component on the Marco Polo platform. A special feature: the S-Servicepartner, currently the only back-office service provider worldwide within the Marco Polo consortium, the largest and fastest-growing trade finance network, was able to process a blockchain-based trade transaction for the first time together with a savings bank and its customer. Another highlight: Raiffeisen Bank International was the first Austrian bank to carry out a pilot transaction on the Marco Polo platform.

The Marco Polo network connects banks, corporates and technology-partners to streamline their working capital and trade finance activities through direct data exchange. It provides digital solutions for international trade and supply chain as well as receivables-based financing using R3 Corda Blockchain technology. Companies will be able to access the platform’s offerings via web portals, local and cloud-based platforms, and ERP-integrated applications.

The settlement and financing of trade transactions via a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)-based platform is of equal interest to companies of all sizes active in foreign trade. The S-Servicepartner participates in the development of the Marco Polo platform, representing all savings banks in Germany, and pursues the goal of providing the savings banks with access to the Marco Polo product offering. The service provider is, therefore, testing the functionality and experience of the products on the Marco Polo platform together with selected savings banks and their medium-sized corporate customers. “This is the first transaction in a pilot series with savings banks with which we want to make an important contribution towards production maturity,” says Jürgen Nagel, a member of the Management Board of S-Servicepartner Berlin. “The insights gained by all participants will be directly incorporated into the further development of the modules”.

Ralf Hüpel, Head of International Business at Sparkasse Bielefeld, states: “We are very happy and satisfied to be able to contribute the view of a savings bank at such an early stage in the development of this platform. As the first savings bank in Germany, we were able, together with our customer, to give important impulses for the further development of this international project”.

“The Wolff Group, which is always interested in cutting edge innovations, sees an opportunity for the future to raise considerable efficiency potentials and significantly improve transparency in the entire process, from ordering to payment”, confirms Tanja Niedenführ, Head of Finance and Accounting Department at the pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) began looking at the existing blockchain-based trade finance solutions in 2017. Of all the available platforms, RBI ultimately opted for Marco Polo. “Marco Polo best suited our strategy as the platform combines traditional trade finance products with new blockchain-based solutions such as Payment Commitment,” says Stefan Andjelic, RBI Blockchain Hub Lead. The cooperation with S-Servicepartner and the two companies gave a good impression of the marketability of the Marco Polo platform. “The transaction showed how Marco Polo can make trade finance more transparent and efficient through automation,” says Andreas Zietz, RBI Teamlead Trade Finance.

Also for Michael Stanzig, Managing Director of s.a.m. Pharma Handel GmbH, the pilot has shown that the Marco Polo platform provides transparency and security to all sides. “The usability of the platform is relatively easy for our part and operated without any problems,” Michael Stanzig continues.

“This pilot demonstrates the benefits of leveraging blockchain technology for open account trade finance transactions. By using the Marco Polo Platform, we create a safe and digital environment, which provides the foundation for a global trade finance marketplace,” said Rob Barnes, CEO of TradeIX.

The parties to the transaction agree that the cooperative partnership not only provided a deeper insight into the innovative technology but also brought the conviction that the underlying visions can be put into practice in the near future.

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The S-Servicepartner is the largest back office service provider for the savings banks in Germany. As a process industrialiser, the S-Servicepartner supports the savings banks with standardization and automation solutions using modern technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Intelligence (BI). Today, the corporate group employs more than 2,350 people at 11 locations throughout Germany and generates annual sales of around 200 million euros.

Sparkasse Bielefeld is the market leader in its area of business for medium-sized corporate customers and the most important financing partner for medium-sized companies in Bielefeld. The bank handles more than 20,000 commercial customer relationships in Bielefeld and has provided around 550 million Euros in new commercial loans in 2018.

The Dr. Wolff Group, with brands such as Alpecin, Plantur and Alcina, as well as Linola, Vagisan, Biorepair and Karex, is a family business from Bielefeld, now in its fourth generation, with 675 employees and expanding worldwide. Since its foundation in 1905, the company has focused on research and the scientifically proven benefits of its products in order to find a solution for hair and skin problems. With its own developments, the company achieved a turnover of 309 million Euros (2018). Dr. Wolff is operating in more than 60 countries.

RBI regards Austria, where it is a leading corporate and investment bank, as well as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as its home market. 13 markets of the region are covered by subsidiary banks. Additionally, the RBI Group comprises numerous other financial service providers, for instance in leasing, asset management or M&A. 

Around 47,000 employees service 16.5 million customers through approx. 2,100 business outlets, the by far largest part thereof in CEE. RBI’s shares are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. The Austrian Regional Raiffeisen Banks own around 58.8 percent of the shares, the remainder is in free float. Within the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, RBI is the central institute of the Regional Raiffeisen Banks and other affiliated credit institutions.

s.a.m. Pharma Handel is a small successful company founded in 2003 in the OTC pharmaceutical sector with the aim of marketing European pharmaceutical companies that are not independently represented in Austria.

trade

Trade and the Impact on Imports and Exports in 2020

Significant and sustained increases in the world trade index (an index measuring the number of times the word uncertainty or its variants are mentioned in Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reports at a country level) should be a worry for many as “the increase in trade uncertainty observed in the first quarter could be enough to reduce global growth by up to 0.75 percentage points in 2019”[1]

In August, the US Institute for supply management[2] latest report shows a contraction in production, purchasing, and employment indices.

Ahir, H, N Bloom, and D Furceri (2019), “The global economy hit by higher uncertainty”, VoxEU.org. https://voxeu.org/article/trade-uncertainty-rising-and-can-harm-global-economy

 

Uncertainty generated from Brexit, the US-China trade war, Japan – South Korea trade wars, and general discontentment with global trend towards widening income inequality is creating a toxic mix for politicians to deal with. The irony is the conventional approach of blaming your trading partners for your problems is only likely to exacerbate a general lack of confidence and increase further uncertainty.

The current round of the G7 summit in Biarritz concluded with support “to overhaul the WTO to improve effectiveness with regard to intellectual property protection, to settle disputes more swiftly and to eliminate unfair trade practices.” In essence, it’s signaling a need to strengthen the capabilities of the WTO to act faster and more decisively in resolving disputes that are even more political than structural in nature, requiring a more multi-faceted engagement approach. Whilst this may help in the long-run, in reality, companies will have to contend with uncertainty in global trade for some time to come as well as the impacts on the real economy from these disputes.

And all of this is happening as IMO 2020 approaches, the January 1, 2020, date by which the International Maritime Organization mandates a switch to lower sulfur fuels in order to achieve an 80% reduction in sulfur emissions leading to significant cost increases in the shipping goods via ocean freight (initial estimates between 180USD – 420 USD per TEU dependent on routing, base fuel costs, carrier).

So given the significant uncertainty around global trade agreements, the increasing use of trade as a political football, the increasing costs to trade and the shortening of product lifecycles as customers want faster, newer more differentiated offerings. Is it still worth it?

Of course this is very much dependent on what industry you are in. Whether you’re a global manufacturer or a wholesaler sourcing goods, your perspectives may be different based on investments made, sensitivity to current trade/tariff measures, customer demands, your markets, and the degree to which you are exposed to political debate and targeting.

However, I would offer that the benefits of specialization, economies of scale and unique factors of production that have underpinned global trade still exist as Adam Smith put it in 1776:

“By means of glasses, hotbeds, and hot walls, very good grapes can be raised in Scotland, and very good wine too can be made of them at about thirty times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought from foreign countries. Would it be a reasonable law to prohibit the importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of claret and burgundy in Scotland?”[1]

Today this simple analogy still holds true in skills, competences, capabilities, and access to markets and insights so that over time the expectation is that trade will prevail.

While the recent outlook has been gloomy, opportunities for 2020 include a resolution to a number of ongoing disputes and a final settlement on Brexit (we hope). Additionally, the maturation in technologies such as blockchain, process automation, forecasting and demand management solutions can also offset costs associated with IMO and support greater agility in the uncertain supply-chain world that we currently live in.

Indeed, if 2019 was the year of trade uncertainty, 2020 could be a restorative year in our ability to execute global trade.

Partnering with an experienced supply chain leader will be essential to minimizing cost increases while ensuring the efficient flow of your company’s goods and services.

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[1] World Economic Forum:https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/how-trade-uncertainty-is-impacting-the-global-economy/

[2]https://www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org/ismreport/mfgrob.cfm?SSO=1

[3]Adam Smith: Wealth of nations 1776

Neil Wheeldon is the Vice Presidents Solutions, BDP International.

trade

10 Steps to Building a Winning Trading Plan

There is one elegant formula in the materials: “fail to plan = plan to fail”, which is understood as “not to plan anything, it means to plan the failure”. No one starts a business without a business plan, but why does the majority start trading without a plan?

Trade is an occupation that requires constant work on yourself. If in most spheres of life you can remain yourself to be successful, then the market is not going to adapt to anyone.

The market uses the darkest sides of the personality to turn you into fuel. Therefore, think about the main weapon of the trader – a trading plan.

While writing a trading plan, you need to remember one thing – you create it in order to comply. This is the set of rules that must be observed in each situation and never deviate.

This is the set of rules that must be observed in each situation and never deviate.

Setting goals

From the very beginning, accept the fact that the safe market trading plan is not a static thing. As you develop yourself as a trader and improve your skills, the plan will also develop.

You should not look for the perfect plan from other people, it does not exist. Each trader is unique, but there are generally accepted elements that are worth taking into their plan.

Inspection and analysis of the sale point

First, conduct an external examination and analysis of the point of sale. Go to the point and greet the staff and decision makers. Then conduct internal inspection and analysis of sale point, if necessary, adjust the purpose of the visit. Conduct a preliminary survey of sellers and together with the staff of the point take off the leftovers.

Skill assessment

Are you ready to trade? Do you have a proven system you are sure of? Are you ready to follow your rules without hesitation? Understand that you can work by your own rules; the market cannot impose anything on you until you give up the slack. Be a pro and take your profits from a crowd that does not have a winning plan.

Determine how to trade

There are many ways to trade in financial markets, such as scalping, day trading, position trading and more. Some choose one option, others successfully use several. Whatever choice you make, the most important thing is to have an understanding in advance of possible scenarios and actions to be taken. Write them in the trade plan.

Define your market

Register in what market, what tools do you want to trade. Consider that the main movements occur at the same time, be on the market at this time.

Increase your level of knowledge in your tools, see what influences them and take this information into account in trade.

Define your trading system

Trading system – a number of rules that will help bring trade to automatism. Freedom of choice in the market will not give you an advantage, so write it in detail.

Write in which platform the analysis will take place, and in which one – the trading, what additional settings are required. It is a good idea to read trading plan template capstone help, in order to be aware of if your plan is rendered successfully.

Stop loss

This is the thing that, even before entering a trade, will help you determine what potential trade has, as well as a stop loss keeps you trading in the long term. At the same time, the stop may be different for each instrument, depending on its volatility, so it is easier to install it as a percentage of your depot.

Management of risks

Perhaps the most important part of the plan. With the right risk management, you can toss up a coin and stay with your money.

It is necessary to prescribe how much you are willing to risk in each transaction, while you can make it dynamic, depending on how good the transaction is. It is also possible to come from your form – maybe you are now at the peak of your form and have the opportunity to earn a little more.

Way to manage open positions

Greed will always prevent you from closing a profitable position when it is clear that the trend has stopped. Fear and hope will prevent you from closing an unprofitable position.

In order for emotions not to interfere, you need to have a simple strategy to exit.

Keep a trade journal

An important point is also neglected. The magazine is a tool for training and analyzing your activities. Keeping a simple diary will allow you to avoid repeated mistakes, or vice versa will allow you to develop a new trading advantage.

It may seem strange, but the breaks are not less important than the intervals of activity. During the rest you relax, you charge with new forces. You can reflect on your trading and make your trading plan even better.

No one will give you guarantees that trade will bring you money. The chances of success depend on your skill, control system, discipline and much more. But as they say, you can lose the battle, but win the war. And to win the war, you need a good plan that will make you consistently successful and allow you to survive in the market.

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Melissa Cartew is a writer, who enjoys writing on diverse topics. She has education in the realm of marketing and is highly aware of the trade. Her hobbies also include traveling, reading about promotions and psychology.

pencils

Pencils: Still Teaching Us Lessons About Trade

Pining for Simpler Times

Pencils remind us of simpler times, when writing was an adventure and erasing life’s mistakes was easy.

In the classic 1958 essay I, Pencil, Leonard Read opened a window for readers into the surprisingly complex global supply chain of something everyone holds in their hand, the pencil. Read helps us realize that countless individuals are involved in logging, mining, processing, transporting, and manufacturing the California cedar, Sri Lankan graphite, Mississippi clay, and foreign and domestic copper, zinc, wax, and coatings combined to produce an elegantly simple pencil.

To Read, a pencil is a miracle. No single individual could make one and no “master mind” directs its production. Pencils are made nonetheless because of the “invisible hand” of free markets. In the decades since Read’s essay, commentators have observed that pencil making is not entirely the result of free-market activity. Governments, too, support pencil production by managing forests, educating workers, and building ports and roads.

The question of where and how pencils are made has resurfaced in the current debate over American trade policy. In a recent campaign video by Senator Elizabeth Warren, she criticizes “giant ‘American’ companies” and their U.S. and foreign shareholders for “hollowing out” American communities. Warren offers as a proof point that “the maker of the famous no. 2 pencil” now largely imports pencils made in China and Mexico.

With pencils in the spotlight, we revisit what can they teach us about the complexity and nuances of modern American trade.

Is Trade Erasing U.S. Manufacturing?

American pencil production has plummeted over the last 25 years. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), the number of U.S. pencil manufacturers fell from 11 in 1993 to four in 2016.

Dixon Ticonderoga — maker of the iconic green-banded yellow pencil — shuttered plants in Ohio and Missouri in the early 2000s, shedding hundreds of jobs. With the end of production by Sanford L.P. in 2014, U.S. production and capacity plunged further — by more than half. During this period, the domestic share of America’s $557 million pencil market declined markedly, while imports from China, Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere more than quadrupled, growing from 6.7 million gross in 1993 to 28.8 million gross in 2016. (A gross is 144 pencils.)

Trade Vistas- Number of US pencil manufacturers

What’s at the Core?

There has been a significant “hollowing out” of American pencil manufacturing. But is the pencil industry representative of U.S. manufacturing and trade generally? The data suggest it’s not.

America has lost five million manufacturing jobs since the mid-1980s. During this period, however, U.S. manufacturing output has doubled. America is making more stuff with fewer workers largely because U.S. factories are more efficient. Studies show that the loss of American manufacturing jobs is due primarily to improved technology, not trade. Economists at Ball State estimate that, overall, 87 percent of U.S. manufacturing job losses between 2000 and 2010 were due to automation, while 13 percent resulted from trade. (Automation was by far the predominant cause of job loss for 15 of the 18 manufacturing sectors studied.)

There are, however, certain largely lower-tech U.S. manufacturing sectors where trade has had a much greater impact. Foremost among these are furniture and apparel (Senator Warren’s video also highlights foreign production of Levi’s jeans) where economists estimate that trade accounted for some 40 percent of job losses. Pencil manufacturing is an example of a “mature” industry where there’s little room for manufacturing innovation but space for makers of high quality products for niche markets. Indeed, for American specialty manufacturers like New Jersey-based General Pencil, the process and equipment used to make pencils has hardly changed from over a century ago.

Can Protection Sharpen U.S. Production?

Policymakers often try to revive trade-impacted low-tech sectors through trade protection. The pencil industry’s experience highlights the difficulties of this approach.

In 1994, the United States imposed antidumping duties on pencils from China, after finding that sales of Chinese imports at “less than fair value” were injuring U.S. manufacturers. Imports of pencils from China fell sharply in 1995. By 1998, however, the volume of “subject imports” from China (six million gross) actually exceeded the volume during the original investigation.

The antidumping duty order was continued in 2000, 2005, 2011, and 2016 after the USITC found that revoking the order would cause further injury to U.S. pencil makers. However, despite duties as high as 114.90 percent imposed on “unfair” imports, subject imports continued to grow to 9.2 million gross in 2004 and 10.5 million gross in 2009, and were 8.5 million gross in 2016.

The pencil industry isn’t the only manufacturing sector where efforts at protection have seemingly failed. Over 97 percent of clothing and footwear sold in America is made overseas, despite the fact that America has, for decades, imposed tariffs on these imports that often exceed 30 percent.

Back to School – With Trade, the Consumer Wins

Is “Big Pencil” to blame for the loss in U.S. manufacturing jobs? Or, are big retailers who seek lower-cost pencils from overseas? While Dixon Ticonderoga isn’t a large company, it’s now owned by a larger Italian firm and imports most of its pencils. And, according to the USITC, there has been increasing consolidation among U.S. wholesale purchasers of pencils. Office Depot and Office Max have merged and big box stores like Target and Walmart are buying larger volumes and seeking low prices.

These retailers are responding to demand for lower-cost imported pencils — in no small part from America’s parents.

Although there has been a resurgence in demand for high-quality, specialty pencils like the Palomino Blackwing and coloring pencils for stressed-out Boomers, most “commodity” pencils are sold during the “back to school” season. In recent years, schools are increasingly requiring parents to buy student supplies like pencils.

School Supplies Costs to US Parents

In 2018, American parents paid an estimated $941 for school supplies and fees for each middle school child. These costs can be a significant burden, especially for low-income parents. Imported pencils — and binders and backpacks — can help moderate these costs. Studies show that middle-income, and especially lower-income Americans, gain significant buying power, stretching their dollars further, from imports.

Pop Quiz

The pencil has a storied history. According to pencils.com, Ancient Roman scribes introduced the use of thin metal rods as a stylus. In the 1800s, the best graphite was sourced from China. Although the first mass-produced pencils were unpainted to show off high-quality wood casings, pencil makers later painted them yellow, a regal color in China, to demonstrate the quality of the graphite within.

The simple pencil continues to both transcribe and itself illustrate complex stories, including the growth and effects of global trade. It can also evoke fond memories like the time mine saved me on a pop history quiz in the 5th grade:

Question 3: Name three Colonial forts.

My answer: Fort Pitt, Fort William Henry, and . . . uh . . .oh yeah! Fort (Dixon) Ticonderoga!

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Ed Gerwin

Ed Gerwin is a lawyer, trade consultant, and President of Trade Guru LLC.

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