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America’s Ports Surge Ahead: $5 Trillion In Funding Is Earmarked For Groundbreaking Infrastructure Overhaul

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America’s Ports Surge Ahead: $5 Trillion In Funding Is Earmarked For Groundbreaking Infrastructure Overhaul

America’s coast hosts more than 300 ports, which are vital to the U.S. economy. Annually, the ports contribute more than $5 trillion to the country’s GDP. Although port traffic was disrupted significantly by COVID-19, port traffic is greater now than ever. 

Read also: Port of Lake Charles Surges into Top 10 US Ports for Cargo Handling

Before the pandemic, port officials rushed to dredge deeper channels to accommodate new mega-ships. At the same time, ports were also dealing with aging infrastructure and a critical need for upgraded infrastructure, which would allow for handling higher volumes of cargo. Over the last decade, the size of the mega ships arriving at America’s ports has more than doubled. 

Projects to deepen port channels are underway or have recently been completed because of the need to service Panamax ships—those that are too large to fit through the Panama Canal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did most of the dredging work, but the expanded waterside capacity has created an immediate need for landside infrastructure upgrades. Demand is high for everything from equipment, technology, cranes, transport vehicles, roads, railways, bridges and the construction of warehouse facilities.

Fortunately, funding is available for upgrading the nation’s port infrastructure. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a long-term $17 billion allocation to support upgrading and expanding port infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last November another $653 million in funding for port projects. Most initiatives will be supported by consolidating federal funding with other revenue sources.

Read also: AMERICA’S TOP 50 POWER PORTS

The traditional type of port operations has evolved, and there is evidence of impressive innovation at many ports. According to officials, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a significant role as ports maximize operational efficiency to speed up the flow of cargo and reduce wait times for vessels. Since two-thirds of the available wind power is located over deep ocean waters, ports are also beginning to play a key role in deploying and maintaining floating offshore wind energy apparatuses. 

Officials at the Port of Long Beach in California will oversee a project to expand the capacity of roads and bridges that are used to move cargo. This will allow rail and truck traffic to accommodate projected increases in cargo throughput and alleviate existing congestion. There are two components of the project. The first involves widening a rail bridge and enhancing its safety by realigning it. The second component calls for upgrades to multiple roadways that must be widened, realigned and improved. Additionally, work will be done on the area’s storm drainage, warehouse facilities and utilities. 

In Washington, the Tacoma Husky Terminal will receive $54.23 million in federal funding to reconfigure the terminal for better truck circulation. The total project cost is estimated at $125.9 million. Currently in the design phase, the project is scheduled for construction in January 2025. The project will be designed to cover three objectives. First, a plan will be developed to reconfigure the container storage yard. That effort will include relocating utilities, light poles, slot drains and fire hydrants. The second objective will require the installation of reefer racks and additional power. A reefer rack is a storage container designed to store perishable cargo at freezing indoor temperatures. New utilities and fire protection systems will be added. The third objective will be to relocate some of the port’s support facilities and construct new ones. 

The Port of Wilmington in Delaware has secured a federal grant of $50 million to construct a container terminal. The terminal has been planned for several years, but recent funding has created new momentum. The container terminal is one component of a larger overall plan to update and expand the Port of Wilmington. Port officials currently have $120 million to work with, and planning documents outline initiatives representing project costs of up to $750 million. Other project plans include constructing a 2,600-foot-long wharf, dredging 3.3 million cubic yards of river sediments, excavating a berth and access channel and adding bulkheading to 3,200 feet of shoreline. 

Hawaii’s Department of Transportation announced it will invest $33.9 million to improve operational efficiency at the Port of Kawaihae. A funding allocation from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration will cover approximately 70% of the project’s total cost. The initiative will include widening Kawaihae Road, adding concrete paving over 10 acres of the port’s cargo yard, implementing 80-foot mast lighting, installing raised transformer pads for additional electrical power pads, and relocating the port office building and maintenance shed. The remainder of the project cost not covered by the PIPD grant will be obtained through revenues received from harbor user fees. Construction is scheduled for 2025.

The Galveston Wharves received an award of $42.3 million from the Texas Department of Transportation for a proposed $50.1 million project at the West Port Cargo Complex. The project entails overhauling a 1,340-foot-long berth across two open slips and adding about 500 feet of berthing area for cargo and lay ships. Construction is expected to begin this year. Noteworthy is the fact that the Texas legislature made history in the last regular session by allocating $640 million for infrastructure projects throughout the state.

In Arkansas, a project with an estimated $18.8 projected cost is being designed for the River Valley Slackwater Harbor. When completed, the new harbor will accommodate up to eight barges at a time and feature a 50-foot-wide concrete deck for mobile cranes. Officials have expressed a desire to finalize a contract for construction services within six months so that work can begin by late 2024. 

Numerous port projects of all types are anticipated in 2024 and 2025. Most will include technology, light rail, renewable energy components, engineering and construction services. 

Author Bio

Mary Scott Nabers is president/CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., a full-service business development firm specializing in procurement consulting, government affairs, research, and public-private partnerships. She founded SPI after co-founding Gemini Global Group and, before that, serving as a statewide office holder in Texas.

 

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The Effects of Biden’s Tariff Increases on Chinese Products on the US Economy, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs 

The White House announced on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, that he will raise tariff on electric vehicles (EVs),  from the current 25% to 100% to take effect in 2024. In addition, the tariff rate on lithium-ion EV batteries  will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024, while the tariff rate on lithium-ion non-EV batteries will increase  from 7.5% to 25% in 2026. The tariff rate on battery parts will increase from 7.5% to 25% in 2024. Tariff on  steel, and aluminum products will increase from 7.5% to 25%, and tariff on solar cells will increase from 25%  to 50%. The tariff rate on semiconductors will increase from 25% to 50% by 2025. In addition, the White  House imposed a duty of 25% on port cranes.  

Related Article: U.S. Increases Tariffs on Chinese Imports to Protect Domestic Industries

“Senior Biden administration officials said they delayed the start of some of the tariff increases to give U.S.  industries time to rejigger their supply chains. The White House said the new tariffs would apply to $18 billion  in products from China, with EV batteries, critical minerals, and medical products among the other goods  targeted. The tariff rate for Chinese semiconductors would double by 2025—to 50% from 25%.” Source:  WSJ. May 14, 2024 

Here’s a synopsis of how China may retaliate against the USA and its interests globally and in China  specifically: 

China is likely to respond to Biden’s tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) from Mexico in several ways.  Here are some potential actions: 

China may impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, targeting sectors that are strategically important to the  United States. This approach would mirror the U.S. tariffs on Chinese EVs and other products. 

Related Article: U.S. Tariffs on China: Echoes of History and New Supply Chain Challenges

In addition, China may put in place non-tariff measures to hinder U.S. companies operating in China. For  example, they could increase regulatory requirements, scrutinize companies’ imports, exports and other  operations, delay approvals, or create administrative obstacles for American businesses.  

China may also set up a production facility in Mexico to avoid direct U.S. tariffs, if they meet local  production requirements. As a matter of fact, despite US pressure on Mexico’s government not to offer any  incentives to China for its plan to build EVs in Mexico, according to Reuters, China’s BYD launched a hybrid  pickup in Mexico as US increased tariffs on EVs. Stella Li, CEO of BYD in the Americas, stated that those  trucks will be built for the Mexican market to satisfy the growing demand, and that BYD “has no plans to go  to the U.S. market, so this announcement (the increase in tariffs) does not impact us at all.”  

In addition, China may exert diplomatic pressure on the U.S. government, urging them to reconsider the  tariffs. This could involve high-level discussions or negotiations between the two countries. 

As a last resort, China may request that its consumers boycott U.S. goods including but not limited to EVs  made in the USA. Such boycott could impact the sales of US companies in the Chinese market.

The Biden tariffs’ impact is not limited to large corporations. The increase in tariffs on EVs will impact small businesses and entrepreneurs as well negatively and positively. 

Starting with the negative effects, inflation is front and center. The ultimate users will face higher prices  which may prevent them from purchasing EVs, therefore, a decrease in demand. As a result, dealers,  distributors, and solopreneurs will be affected negatively.  

In addition to inflation, financial disadvantage will affect small businesses and entrepreneurs who rely on  lower cost Chinese parts and who may not have the financial advantage (deep pockets) that allow large  corporations to withstand cost increases.  

Add to that the supply chain disruption as small businesses and entrepreneurs may not have any alternatives  to find suppliers/sellers who may offer competitive prices to match those of the Chinese manufacturers and  sellers. Even if they did, the minimum quantity required may be prohibitive to them financially and capacity  wise.  

VUCA, (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) created by the tariffs much larger headwinds  for entrepreneurs and small businesses than for large corporations who may be able to absorb cost volatility  and product availability.  

When it comes to domestic positive effects, small businesses and entrepreneurs may benefit from the tariffs  as domestic manufacturers may gain market share. As a result, benefiting small businesses and entrepreneurs  who are in the production, distribution, or sale of domestically manufactured EVs and parts. This market share  gain may result in an increase in employment for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are involved in  manufacturing, maintenance, or assembly.  

Moreover, the increase in domestic sourcing will put an upward pressure on cost due to higher domestic  wages caused by the increase in tariffs which will force importers to procure locally from US manufacturers  and suppliers, or internationally from countries where the import tariffs are much lower than those imposed  on Chinese products. In both scenarios, the cost reduction will benefit small businesses and entrepreneurs.  

The increase in tariffs may increase the stock value of clean energy startup companies. Due to the decrease  in Chinese competition, and the increase in domestic demand (if the current consumers’ behavior changes), clean energy startups will be better positioned to innovate. This will lead to new patents and additional product  launches to the market, which, in turn, will lead to an increase in investors’ confidence.  

This situation is complex. China’s response will depend on various factors, including political considerations,  economic interests, and the U.S.-China relationship at large. 

Diplomatic channels and negotiations will likely play a crucial role in determining the outcome.

Author Bio

Omar Kazzaz specializes in business strategy and development, contract negotiations, BPI (Business Process Improvement) as well as geopolitics and their effects on global trade, logistics and supply chain design, planning, and execution. Omar has 32 years of experience in international business, manufacturing, global logistics and supply chain.  

Mr. Kazzaz has been involved in numerous panel discussions on business negotiations, supply chain, global trade, and global logistics. His comments on international trade agreements, global manufacturing and supply chain have been quoted in publications such as The Charlotte Observer, The Journal of Commerce, Global Trade Magazine, Supply and Demand Chain Executive among other publications. 

Mr. Kazzaz holds an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, AZ, and a BA in German and Economics from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Besides his native Arabic language, Mr. Kazzaz speaks French and German.

 

U.S

U.S. Economic Slowdown Likely Ahead as Monetary Policy Actions Begin to Take Effect

Rebound in labor force participation a bright spot for businesses and a key to economic recovery.

The U.S. economy continues to defy gravity and remains strong despite lingering inflationary pressures, higher borrowing costs and a barrage of other headwinds. Consumers continue to spend aggressively on services, businesses are still investing and the labor market remains incredibly strong. Secure jobs are the most important element in consumer spending and well-employed Americans have powered the economic recovery for three years.

However, looming risks to the economy are increasing in number and size. According to a new quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, the full impact of monetary policy actions—raising interest rates, quantitative easing and contracting the money supply—have yet to be felt. Those policy actions, combined with depleted consumer savings, tighter commercial bank lending standards and the persistently inverted yield curve are likely to result in a mild recession by the fourth quarter of 2023.

The labor market remains relatively tight, but the situation has improved significantly as female and non-native workers have stormed back into the work force. The labor force participation rate for women between the ages of 25-54 now stands at an all-time high, up more than 4 percentage points from the low in April 2020.

Foreign-born employment has increased at roughly double the pace of native-born employment since April 2020. The successes in these two groups have been critical so far in the economic recovery. But looking forward, it raises the question of how many more workers are available to be coaxed in off the sidelines. Ultimately, the U.S. labor force challenges are far from over.

Grains, Farm Supply & Biofuels 

With the corn and soybean growing season in full swing, drought across the Central U.S. is driving heightened seasonal market volatility. Markets are balancing the quickly deteriorating crop conditions against the potential for El Nino to bring wetter conditions later in the growing season. Wheat harvest is advancing northward in the U.S. and is revealing high variability in crop quality. USDA expects the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop to be the smallest since 1957 on substantially higher abandonments and lower yields.

Ag retailers faced a more challenging environment in the second quarter as fertilizer prices continued to fall. Prices were weighed down by reduced demand, as farmers took advantage of pre-payment programs last fall to purchase fertilizer in advance. Despite an overall slowdown in inflation, ag retailers continued to face rising costs, especially for property insurance. Grain and farm supply cooperatives paid about 50% more for property and casualty insurance coverage during the January and April 2023 renewal seasons.

The ethanol complex delivered strong second quarter results with steady production and above-average profitability. Operating margins averaged 45 cents per gallon, nearly double the long-term average. While the finalized blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were somewhat disappointing for ethanol, they were incrementally positive for biomass-based diesel. The new rules call for 2.82 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in 2023 and 3.35 billion gallons in 2025.

Animal Protein & Dairy

As the summer grilling season kicked off, beef demand remained incredibly resilient despite elevated prices for consumers. Retail beef prices averaged $7.50 per pound in May, a record high for the period, and an increase of 2% year-over-year. Robust demand combined with tighter cattle supplies spurred market momentum for cattle. Fed cattle values reached record levels, above $180 per cwt. and feeder cattle shot above $240 per cwt. While consumers have yet to balk at higher beef prices, things could quickly change when seasonal support wanes.

Excess hog supply and weak pork demand put hog prices in jeopardy this spring. After a steady start to the year, the CME lean hog index tumbled about $10 per cwt., to $72 from mid-March to late April. However, more favorable market conditions across the animal protein segment drove lean hog values up 30% through May and June. While still down about $15 year-over-year, the pork cutout landed in the upper $90s, gaining about $20 per cwt. through the quarter.

Domestic chicken consumption was up about 4% year-over-year through June 1, which has helped chip away at elevated cold storage holdings. Wholesale broiler meat prices have largely rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, following significant declines in late 2022 and early 2023. Feed costs have come down about 10% from last year but remain well above their historic averages. For broiler integrators, increased feed costs coupled with higher operational expenses have crimped profitability.

U.S. milk producers continue to struggle in the current price environment. The national all-in mailbox milk price has dropped below the $20 per cwt. mark after averaging $25.34 per cwt. in 2022. While several factors are to blame for this year’s milk price decline, the sharp drop in American/cheddar-style cheese prices is the most significant. Prices for the category have dropped by one-third since the beginning of the year. Milk and feed futures suggest producer profitability should improve considerably by October when Class III milk prices are anticipated to increase by about $3 per cwt.

Cotton, Rice & Specialty Crops

U.S. cotton production is rebounding from last year’s crop that was devastated by extreme drought across the southwest. Recent rainfall in top-producing Texas is expected to reduce abandonment following three years of severe drought. The U.S. cotton crop is now estimated at 16.5 million bales, up 14% from last year. Price inflation for clothing and apparel in the U.S. continues to ease with the moderation of cotton prices, which may work to draw in new consumer demand.

U.S. rice production is expected to recover from last year’s small crop, although concerns over dryness and worsening conditions in the mid-South have led to increased volatility of rough rice prices. With improved water availability this year, California medium grain rice production is also expected to rebound with planted acreage at 465,000 acres. That’s a substantial increase from last year’s planted acreage of 220,000 acres that were restricted by historic drought conditions.

Sugar prices remain historically high as markets ration tight global supplies. USDA currently calls for a rebound in world sugar production for 2023-2024, but concerns are growing that El Nino will result in smaller harvests in 2023-2024. In the U.S., there is no relief in sight for high prices as wet weather delayed planting across northern states this spring, which resulted in a smaller U.S. sugarbeet crop.

The tight farm labor market continues to be especially challenging for U.S. specialty crop producers. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reported that weekly median wages for farm workers swelled to a record high $915 in April, a 24% increase from the year earlier. In June, the House Agriculture Committee created a bipartisan working group, tasked with evaluating the H-2A program and finding solutions for the labor supply challenges facing farmers.

Food & Beverage

While food manufacturers generally indicate they are back to business as usual in the post-pandemic era, many consumers continue to harbor a crisis-management mentality when it comes to food costs. Rising food prices are challenging both at-home and away-from-home food spending. The Consumer Price Index for all food in May was 6.7% higher than May 2022, while food away-from-home prices were up 8.3%. To offset higher prices, consumers are continuing behaviors initially seen during the pandemic, namely eating more meals at home. Foot traffic in restaurants remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

Power, Water & Communications

Falling fuel and energy prices have brought some much-needed relief to rural consumers, who were uniquely disadvantaged by rising energy bills in recent years. Gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas and electricity all cost less than they did a year ago. Rural discretionary incomes fell by a staggering 50% from 2020 to 2022 compared to 13% for urban residents. Transportation and home energy expenses were responsible for two-thirds of the inflationary divide between rural and urban households.

Microsoft, Google and Meta are investing billions of dollars in artificial intelligence applications, which have exploded onto the scene in recent months. Applications like ChatGPT will dramatically increase the need for data processing capacity, fiber network connectivity and other communications infrastructure. Telecommunications operators in rural and smaller cities are well positioned to meet this growing need, as data storage and computation needs to occur in near proximity to where AI applications are run.

Read The Quarterly. Each CoBank Quarterly provides updates and an outlook for the Macro Economy and U.S. Agricultural Markets; Grains, Biofuels and Farm Supply; Animal Protein; Dairy; Cotton and Rice; Specialty Crops; Food & Beverage industries and Rural Infrastructure.

malaysian

New Malaysian Ambassador Resorts to Trade and Economic Diplomacy to Strengthen Bilateral Ties with the U.S. 

Malaysia’s new ambassador in Washington DC, Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz, underscored the importance of forging closer trade and economic cooperation with the U.S., adding that he would also reach out to U.S. trade and industry associations and the corporate sector  to highlight business and investment opportunities in Malaysia. 

“Promoting trade and economic cooperation will be the focus of my work in the United States where Malaysia has over the years built up a network of contacts with a number of institutions and, generally, within the business community,” Nazri said in an interview with The Global Trade Magazine on the sideline of a recent event held at Malaysia’s permanent mission to the UN in New York where he addressed the Malaysian diaspora.  Amir Farid Abu Hasan, the Malaysian consul general in New York, moderated the meeting between the ambassador and the Malaysian diaspora. 

“Our aim is to further increase trade with the United States … I have been engaging with the USABC (the United States-ASEAN Business Council, an advocacy group whose objective is to foster economic growth and trade ties between the U.S. and the ASEAN member countries)…. all the big U.S. corporations that are members in the USABC, have been investing in Malaysia,” the envoy said. Before arriving in Washington DC, Nazri had coordinated closely with USABC officials in Malaysia and also participated in the Council’s seminars.  

Nazri, who was Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture from May 2013 to May 2018, added that he also exchanged views with Malaysian businesspeople in the U.S. “Malaysian businesspeople provide useful insights …” he maintained. 

The envoy pointed out that the United States is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner after Singapore and China.  According to the latest trade figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Malaysia’s exports to the U.S. in 2022 amounted to $ 54.75 billion while its imports from the U.S last year were about $ 18.11 billion; Malaysia posted a trade surplus of $ 36.65 billion in bilateral trade. 

During the Jan-March first quarter of 2023, Malaysia’s exports amounted to $ 11.99 billion while imports touched $ 4.32 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $ 7.66 billion in Malaysia’s favour. 

Malaysia’s major exports to the U.S. consist of electrical and electronic products, rubber products, optical and scientific equipment, wood products, etc., while imports from the U.S. consist of electrical and electronic products, chemicals and chemical products, machinery equipment and parts, optical and scientific equipment, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. can potentially increase its exports of agricultural products, equipment and machinery, aerospace and defense products, healthcare, information and communication technology, renewable energy, etc.  This could benefit Malaysia because U.S. exporting companies can also consider setting up operations in Malaysia, using it as a hub for production and distribution in the ASEAN region. 

But Malaysia is not alone in vying for greater trade and investments from the United States – Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have been aggressively courting American companies and, as their recent maneuvering shows, they have intensified their courtship through exchanges of high-level visits in both directions. 

Because of its strategic location, the importance of the bloc of Southeast Asian nations called ASEAN has grown in context of the South China Sea which is witnessing a growing U.S.-China rivalry. Washington has received several high-ranking visitors from the ASEAN region – the most recent being Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr – while U.S. politicians have also visited various ASEAN capitals. 

When asked to comment on Malaysia’s position in regard to the growing competition between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea, Nazri said that Malaysia maintained strict neutrality in the rivalry and “desired friendship with all countries”.  The Philippines, Vietnam and other ASEAN member countries are “not disinclined to U.S. overtures to enter into strategic cooperation”, as some experts cautiously formulate the response of some ASEAN countries.  Indeed, the Philippines is entering into defense cooperation with the United States, an old ally of the Philippines during the rule of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 

“The Philippines has been a strategic partner of the U.S. while Malaysia’s focus is on trade and investments with the U.S.  We are trying to attract U.S. industry with our well-developed infrastructure, skilled manpower, lower costs and good connectivity,” Nazri said. 

Malaysian passport holders have, meanwhile, been urging the Malaysian government to get the facility of visa-free entry into the U.S.  That subject was raised by past Malaysian governments with successive U.S. administrations.  “While we will not lose sight of that goal, Malaysians should, meanwhile, get the appropriate visa and follow U.S. visa regulations for visiting the U.S.,” Nazri responded. 

Malaysia is also interested in promoting cultural, academic and people-to-people exchanges and activities.  Nazri revealed that a Malaysian tourism official will be posted at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington to promote tourism from the U.S. to Malaysia. After the closure of the Malaysian Tourism Office in New York a few years back and discontinuation of flights by Malaysian Airlines to the east coast, tourism promotion efforts seemed to have weakened.  At present, Malaysia’s Tourism Ministry has only one representation office in Los Angeles which promotes tourism from the U.S.  “We are confident that a tourism representative at the embassy (in Washington) will strengthen the overall tourism-promotion effort,” the envoy said.

trade survey

New American Express Survey Finds That More Than Three Quarters of Small Businesses Are Looking To Consolidate Their Cash Flow Management Tools

50% of small businesses believe cash flow management tool consolidation positively impacts profitability.

Our new American Express survey of 1,100 U.S. small business leaders shows that small businesses are seeking consolidated cash flow management tools to foster greater efficiency, profitability, and business growth.

Small businesses are starved for time and need business-designed tools that can make their lives easier. The data shows streamlined management from integrated, seamless cash flow tools has become critical for them.

The Current State of Cash Flow Management

This latest survey stresses the importance of product integration in cash flow management. According to the survey results, 60% of small businesses use between two to three cash flow management products to run their business with 62% spending at least five hours a week on various platforms and 18% spending 10-20 hours a week. With productivity in mind, 73% of all small businesses are considering changing cash flow management providers to consolidate their data and products into one platform.

Notably, this survey showed that 78% of all small business owners agree that having all their business cash flow management products and data in one platform would help grow their confidence as a small business owner. It also found that 84% of small business owners also say consolidating their cash flow management tools would save them time each week, with around half saying the savings would be between 3-8 hours.

 A Need for Greater Ease & Cost

Amidst economic headwinds, tailwinds, dips, and growth — cash flow management is a constant when running a business. Our latest survey data shows that ease of use (43%) and price (36%) are the top two features that small businesses believe their cash flow management tools could improve. 71% of small business owners report that consolidation of these tools would have a positive impact on efficiency for their business and 50% report that it would have a positive impact on profitability.

Time also continues to be top of mind. 68% of small business owners agree that they would like to spend less time managing their business’ cash flow – giving them more time to spend doing what they love, working on their actual business.

 The Broader Benefits of Streamlined Management

The data also shows that consolidated cash flow management tools can help boost productivity and simplify running a business. Respondents said they would feel better prepared to manage inventory (37%), solve cash-flow gaps in advance (37%) and expand their business (36%) if given the opportunity to analyze their cash flow management data all in one place.

Streamlined cash flow management can have a wide array of benefits for the small business sector, and the data indicates the importance of it to help unlock additional profit, efficiency and time for small businesses.

Brett Sussman is Vice President Head of Sales & Marketing, American Express Business Blueprint & Banking, a digital cash flow management hub designed exclusively for small businesses, which features cash flow insights, digital financial products, and an easy way to reach and manage their Business Cards.

bath

 U.S. Imports of Bath Preparations Drop to $4.9M in February 2023

 U.S. Bath Preparations

Imports Bath preparations imports into the United States fell to 1.3K tons in February 2023, declining by -11.5% against the previous month’s figure. Over the period under review, imports, however, recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in August 2022 with an increase of 125% month-to-month.

In value terms, bath preparations imports contracted to $4.9M (IndexBox estimates) in February 2023. Overall, imports continue to indicate a slight downturn. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in August 2022 with an increase of 124% against the previous month.

 Imports by Country

In February 2023, China (768 tons) constituted the largest supplier of bath preparations to the United States, with a 60% share of total imports. Moreover, bath preparations imports from China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest supplier, Canada (147 tons), fivefold. The third position in this ranking was held by Pakistan (105 tons), with an 8.2% share.

From February 2022 to February 2023, the average monthly growth rate of volume from China was relatively modest. The remaining supplying countries recorded the following average monthly rates of imports growth: Canada (-0.8% per month) and Pakistan (+63.4% per month).

In value terms, Canada ($2.3M), China ($1.7M) and the UK ($223K) were the largest bath preparations suppliers to the United States, together accounting for 84% of total imports. These countries were followed by the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Israel, which together accounted for a further 7.1%.

Pakistan, with a CAGR of +32.2%, saw the highest rates of growth with regard to the value of imports, among the main suppliers over the period under review, while purchases for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import Prices by Country

In February 2023, the bath preparations price stood at $3,859 per ton (CIF, US), rising by 1.6% against the previous month. In general, the import price, however, showed a slight curtailment. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in November 2022 when the average import price increased by 39% month-to-month. Over the period under review, average import prices attained the peak figure at $6,375 per ton in December 2022; however, from January 2023 to February 2023, import prices failed to regain momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin: the country with the highest price was Canada ($15,486 per ton), while the price for Pakistan ($472 per ton) was amongst the lowest.

From February 2022 to February 2023, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Canada (+2.3%), while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Market Intelligence Platform

consumer

U.S. Discretionary Retail Sales Revenue Fell 7% in March

Consumers demonstrate waning interest in spending amid reduced product innovation.

In March 2023, discretionary U.S. general merchandise retail sales revenue fell 7%, compared to March 2022, and unit sales fell 8%, which is double the average monthly declines in January and February. These steeper sales declines remained consistent during the last three weeks of March, spanning both units and dollars for the first time this year, according to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.

Investment in new product development was understandably put on hold due to uncertainties caused by the pandemic when most companies adjusted priorities to fulfill demand, addressed supply chain issues, and then focused on selling excess inventory. Before the pandemic, new general merchandise products represented more than 5% of the market. By the end of 2022, that number was less than 2%.

Changes in spending go deeper than the discretionary

Across discretionary general merchandise and consumer packaged goods (CPG), the trends in consumer spending and new product deficits in the marketplace have directional similarities that are intensified by elevated prices. Compounding these consumer distractions are news stories about inflation and bank insolvencies that continue to raise consumer concerns about the economy, which can adversely affect consumer sentiment and spending.

About Circana

Circana is the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. Through unparalleled technology, advanced analytics, cross-industry data and deep expertise, we provide clarity that helps almost 7,000 of the world’s leading brands and retailers take action and unlock business growth. We understand more about the complete consumer, the complete store, and the complete wallet so our clients can go beyond the data to apply insights, ignite innovation, meet consumer demand and outpace the competition.

lender

U.S. Small Business Administration Announces 2023 Export Lender Award Winners

Top lenders committed to increasing access to capital for small businesses entering the global marketplace

Today Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced its 2023 Export Lender of the Year Award winners for their efforts to increase access to capital for U.S. small businesses by providing international trade financing. This year, the SBA’s Office of International Trade selected Regions Bank and Amerant Bank as the 2023 Export Lenders of the Year, and Berkshire Bank as the 2023 International Trade Lender of the Year.

The Export Lender of the Year Awards recognize excellence in export financing. These awards highlight the accomplishments of lenders in delivering SBA’s international finance programs to small businesses, designed to help small businesses develop new markets, finance export transactions, and expand capacity to meet overseas demand.

Regions Bank – Export Lender of the Year

Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Regions Bank has been the top Export Working Capital Lender by total dollar value for the past four years. In 2022, Regions Bank provided more than $36 million in financing support to small business exporters through its use of the Export Working Capital Program (EWCP) and International Trade Loan programs. With the addition of its new loans in 2022, Regions Bank maintained the largest active EWCP portfolio nationally. This is Regions Bank’s second Export Lender of the Year selection as the institution was also recognized with the award in 2019.

Amerant Bank – Export Lender of the Year

Amerant Bank is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, with operations throughout South Florida and Houston, Texas. With a growing SBA department, Amerant Bank placed the export loan programs as a central part of their strategy with export loans accounting for more than half of their commitments. In 2022, Amerant Bank provided more than $20 million in financing support to small business exporters through their use of the EWCP and Export Express programs. With strong growth under the EWCP program, Amerant applied for delegated authority in 2023.

Berkshire Bank – International Trade Loan (ITL) Lender of the Year

Based in Boston, Berkshire Bank provided $15 million in financing support to small business exporters through their use of SBA’s International Trade Loan Program, one of SBA’s core export loan programs.  For the past several years, Berkshire Bank has been an active user of SBA’s domestic and export loan programs and approved 193 SBA loans totaling $200 million in 2022.  This is Berkshire Bank’s second Export Lender award as the institution was recognized as an Export Lender of the Year in 2019.

U.S. exports are important to the nation’s economy, with 97.4% of all exporters being small businesses. During the fiscal year 2022, the SBA guaranteed $423 million in financing to small business exporters, which supported over $1.6 billion in export sales.

2023 Will be Bumpy - These Dividend ETFs Can Smooth the Ride  consumer emerging

$2.9 Trillion U.S. Consumer Retail Market is Set for Repositioning, Reports Circana

Don Unser and Marshal Cohen discuss the importance of looking across aisles and beyond industry lines at Growth Summit 2023

Consumer demand is declining across nearly every U.S. discretionary general merchandise and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, even as elevated prices recede from peak levels. At the Growth Summit 2023, presented by Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group, Don Unser and Marshal Cohen look below the surface of current retail performance in this $2.9 trillion market, exploring the possibilities for repositioning retail in the year ahead.

Indicators of change to learn from

  • There is an expanded competitive landscape for consumer spending. Discretionary general merchandise purchases are now being challenged not only by alternatives within respective industries, but also by elevated CPG prices.
  • Last year brought a new holiday shopping cadence to retailing in the U.S. The fourth quarter 2022 holiday shopping season’s peak week happened later than ever and secondary retail shopping peaks for holidays, like Valentine’s Day and Easter are not reaching the same heights.
  • Shifts in industry performance illustrate purchase prioritization. Many peak pandemic performers, like technology, are among the most challenged industries, while those, like beauty, that support the consumer’s investment in themselves are faring better.

About Circana

Circana is the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. Through unparalleled technology, advanced analytics, cross-industry data and deep expertise, we provide clarity that helps almost 7,000 of the world’s leading brands and retailers take action and unlock business growth. We understand more about the complete consumer, the complete store, and the complete wallet so our clients can go beyond the data to apply insights, ignite innovation, meet consumer demand and outpace the competition.

drones market

The Demand in the US Market is being Driven by the Expanding use of LiDAR Drones in Mining, Agriculture, Inspections, Law Enforcement, and Archaeology

As per Future Market Insights, the global LiDAR drone market size reached US$ 147.0 million in 2022. Overall LiDAR drone sales are set to accelerate at 19.8% CAGR between 2022 and 2032. By 2032, the total LiDAR drone market valuation will reach around US$ 892.0 million.

Rotary wing drones will remain the top-revenue generation category during the assessment period. The rotary wing LiDAR drones segment is likely to expand at 19.7% CAGR through 2032.

Rising usage across mining and agricultural industries is driving LiDAR drone demand. For drone-makers, growing investments in agricultural surveillance, mining surveillance, and road traffic surveillance will create enormous growth prospects.

LiDAR drones are extensively used in the mining industry to make the workflow smooth. They also enhance workers’ safety and help avoid accidents. Hence, the expansion of the mining industry will elevate LiDAR drone demand through 2032.

 

LiDAR drones are also gaining wider popularity in precision agriculture applications. Rapid shift towards modern agricultural practices will thus create lucrative opportunities for manufacturers.

Increasing government initiatives encouraging the use of LiDAR drones for surveys and law enforcement will boost LiDAR drone sales.

Key Takeaway:

  • The worldwide LiDAR drone market size will reach US$ 892.0 million by 2032.
  • Global LiDAR drone sales are set to rise at 15.9% CAGR through 2033.
  • By drone type, rotary wing drone demand will increase at 19.7% CAGR between 2022 and 2032.
  • Based on LiDAR type, the topographic segment is likely to expand at 19.6% CAGR.
  • The United States LiDAR drone market is forecast to reach a valuation of US$ 258.2 million in 2032.
  • Sales of LiDAR drones across South Korea are set to surge at 20.2% CAGR through 2032.
  • The United Kingdom LiDAR drone market will progress at 18.8% CAGR.
  • LiDAR drones demand across China is likely to rise at 20.8% CAGR over the next ten years.

“Widening application area of LiDAR drones will play a key role in boosting the global market through 2033.” Says a lead Future Market Insights analyst.

Regional Analysis

The United States lies at the center stage of LiDAR drone revenue growth. As per Future Market Insights, the United States LiDAR drone market size will reach US$ 300  million by 2032.

Overall LiDAR drone sales across the USA are forecast to rise at 17.9% CAGR through 2032. Between 2022 and 2032, the United States market is set to create an absolute $ opportunity of US$ 208.5 million. The USA LiDAR drone market expanded at a CAGR of 24.8% from 2017 to 2022.

The rising application of LiDAR drones in mining, agriculture, inspections, law enforcement, and archaeology is driving the United States market.

Who is Winning?

Key LiDAR drone manufacturers are constantly developing effective high-resolution scanning solutions. They are focused on their alliances with AI companies, technology collaborations, and product launch strategies.

Recent Developments:

  • In 2022, Censys Technologies integrated LiDAR technology into their fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing drone (VTOL).
  • In September 2022, Faro Technologies completed the transactions of buying United Kingdom-based Company GeoSLAM Ltd. GeoSLAM Ltd is a provider of mobile scanning solutions.