Wednesday, February 25, 2009

U.S. home price drop at record pace in December: S&P

U.S. home price drop at record pace in December: S&P
Tuesday February 24, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of U.S. single-family homes plunged 18.5 percent in December from a year earlier as the monthly pace accelerated, according to a Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 2.5 percent in December from November, compared with a 2.3 percent decline in the previous period, S&P said in a statement.

"There are very few, if any, pockets of turnaround that one can see in the data," David Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee, said in the statement. "Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path."

In a separate index, home prices depreciated at a 18.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, for the largest drop since the series began 21 years ago, it said. From the housing market peak in the second quarter of 2006, home prices have plummeted 26.7 percent, it said.

(Reporting by Al Yoon; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

392 Container Ships Sitting Idle in Ports

392 Container Ships Sitting Idle in Ports
(Cargonews Asia)

The number of empty container ships worldwide has climbed to a record high. A total of 392 vessels are currently sitting idly in ports, up from 210 at the beginning of last month. The unused cargo space is equivalent to about 1.1 million standard units (TEU) of empty containers, or 8.8% of the total world capacity, the Straits Times reported. This figure surpasses the previous high of five percent set in 1986, the year United States Lines went bankrupt.

According to media reports, demand would have to grow at an average of 15% over the next three years 'just to restore equilibrium' by early 2013. A 10% figure, however, was more realistic, pushing recovery to 2014.

Hobbled by a combination of an oversupply of ships and a dwindling demand for goods, the shipping industry is facing one of its most challenging times. Shipping lines have responded by sharply cutting capacity to reduce costs and push freight rates back up.

APL, a unit of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), said yesterday it would raise its rates on the Asia-Europe route by US$250 per container from April1. That followed similar moves by other shipping lines. Detlev Kerber, APL's vice-president for the Asia-Europe trade, said: "Freight rates in this trade have been falling drastically for more than a year. In many cases, not even variable transportation costs are covered by current freight rates. … Our intention is to restore freight rates in the Asia-Europe trade to a sustainable level."

Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk laid up eight ships in December and issued a profit warning ahead of its results announcement next month.

NOL, meanwhile, has acted to cut $200 million in costs by laying up 15 ships and chartering another six, a response in part to its fourth-quarter net loss of $149 million. NOL chief executive Ron Widdows said the year would be challenging, and 2010 would likely be weak as well. He anticipates that the company will report losses this year.

World trade has taken a beating as the United States and Europe battle major recessions. The important Asia-Europe trade route has virtually collapsed, and the world's major ports are seeing traffic slow dramatically. Container traffic through Singapore ports shrank 19.6% in January, following a 14% decline in December, as Singapore's exports tumbled a record 35% last month. Smilarly, container traffic through Hong Kong's port slumped 23% last month.

The World Bank has predicted that world trade will shrink 2.1% this year – the first decline since 1982.

Great soundtrack!

Monday, February 23, 2009

International students plan to leave Canada en masse


THE CANADIAN Universities will soon lose their CAD 5,000, 000 every semester on account of imminent fleeing of most of the Indian International Students from Canada. There are at least 5000 international students coming to Canadian universities every year. Every international student pays at least CAD 5000 to 6000 every semester on an average.

Canadian Foreign Office in league with Visa issuing authorities is inflicting recurring insensitivities and injustices upon the International Students in Canada.

It has come to light from reliable sources that international students joining four and five years professional and academic undergraduate and post-graduate courses are charged about seven times fees in comparison to the normal fee structure.

Commentary: Despite these claims of fleeing what are these reliable sources?

Even those students -- who are pursuing four to five years courses – are being offered single entry visa only.

That tantamounts to keeping such students, as it were, away from their parents for three to four years. What a great injustice, harassment and emotional exploitation it is. This, indeed, is gross violation of fundamental human rights. And lo! All this is happening in a free and democratic country like Canada. In view of apparently authoritarian rules of issuing Visa, several international students are being ipso facto ‘legally’ forced not to leave Canada until they complete their concerned degree/diploma course. Is this not a brutal instance of ‘forced legal confinement’ of international students?

Commentary: It depends. Perhaps there is a multiple re-entry visa which costs more money?

Canada is in the need of vast human resources. However, such an inhuman Visa policy is likely to render Canada merely into an icy desert with utter dearth of needed human resources in future.

Commentary: This could be an extreme depiction of icy dessert like a Mcflurry. However Canada has a problem retaining a lot of its own citizens regardless of the plight frigidly nipped Indian students.

In addition to this, Canada is going to lose nearly several million Canadian dollars – every six months -- as a result of likely mass exodus of its international students.

Commentary: Canada is by all measures losing global market share due to lack of federal oversight or national standards accreditation particularly in comparison to provincially administrated educational programs.

The current Canadian Visa policy is thus extremely harmful for a country like Canada for it needs lots of skilled and unskilled population Otherwise, portents are as clear as ‘writing on the wall’.

Commentary: As Canadians mix portents I hope in relation to markets in Asia they may realize proximity to market is not necessarily Australia's greatest advantage. Willingness to engage and perform in those markets or market presence are much more likely factors of success.

Canada must learn to be non-exploitative and more broad minded if it has to prosper into the 21st century.

Commentary: Bully! Also note larger unit volumes of foreign students might lower single unit handling costs and increase educational delivery efficiency and global effectiveness. As a result per unit tuition costs might possibly be lowered.

“International students in Canada are proving to be of great value to its national polity and economy. Hence, such emotional atrocities must not be inflicted upon them under any pretext,” is a general opinion of the concerned students’ community in Canada.

It is a serious matter and as such, must be taken up by the Foreign Office in the right spirit.

Commentary: Please encourage Canada's foreign office to learn from and study the successful Australian model.

Ottawa to allow more foreign students into Canada

(Canadian Press)

TORONTO — The federal government plans to “substantially increase” the number of foreign students it allows into the country this year.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made the Announcement Friday. He didn't say how many more students will be lured here, but noted Australia allows 10 times more students from India than Canada does.

Kenney said Canadian universities are pressing for more foreign students because they pay the highest tuition fees, making them “a source of revenue.”

He said foreign students would have a chance to understand Canada’s labour market and languages, and put themselves on a “much faster pathway” to immigration.

Under a program launched last year, foreign students are eligible to apply to become permanent residents when their visas expire.

Kenney also said he expects a major reduction in the number of temporary foreign workers allowed into Canada because of the slowing economy and rising unemployment.

Commentary: I hope Minister Kenney also notes the benefits to Australian students themselves in foreign student enrollments which often reach upwards of 40-50% of local or national enrollments ratios on many campuses. The Australian public or household spending on university tuitions and especially graduate and doctoral programs are signficantly more affordable than in Canada as a result. Please do not forget to pass the savings of increased proportionally higher foreign student enrollments on to Canadian tax-payers and at the same time mandate a portion of local university profits from foreign enrollments to concrete commitments to developing offshore campuses and greater international partnerships in education.
It is a game of catch-up here in Asia for Canada and an argument could be made that Canada is twenty years behind everyone else in this regard.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Singapore Airlines suspends flights to Vancouver


SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines Ltd. said it will suspend flights to Vancouver, Canada starting in April as the global economic slowdown erodes demand for travel.

The carrier flies to Vancouver through Seoul, South Korea three times a week. The suspension is indefinite, and the last flight will be on April 25.

"The decision to suspend service is most regrettable, as Singapore Airlines has served Canada for over 20 years," the airline said in a statement Saturday. "However, the economic conditions and performance on the route have been badly affected by the global economic downturn."

Singapore Airline said last month that it planned to cut flights to the U.S., Europe and Asia as demand dried up. The airline said last week its October-December profit fell 43 percent as it flew 4.2 percent fewer passengers.

Singapore is facing its worst recession since splitting from Malaysia in 1965 as exports plummet. Gross domestic product shrank a seasonally adjusted, annualized 16.9 percent in the fourth quarter, and the government expects GDP in 2009 to contract as much as 5 percent.

Reveille Zachary Richard et 1755



Grand Pré, 1994
Paroles et musiques : Angèle Arsenault

On porte toujours en soi un peu de son pays
Et moi je n'oublie pas que je suis d'Acadie
Si mon histoire est triste, ce n'est pas votre faute
Mais soyons des artistes, écrivons-en une autre
Qui sera bien plus belle, beaucoup moins dramatique
Avec des arcs-en-ciel, d'la danse et d'la musique
À partir d'aujourd'hui, bâtissons l'avenir
En gardant du passé nos plus beaux souvenirs

Grand Pré, c'est là que tout a commencé
Grand Pré, c'est là que nous avions rêvé
Grand Pré, de bâtir un monde nouveau
À l'abri des tempêtes, au bord de l'eau
Grand Pré, c'était un peu le paradis
Grand Pré, les Indiens, c'étaient nos amis
Grand Pré, à l'abri des arbres géants
Dans le Bassin des Mines, à l'origine
Du nouveau continent

Non, ils sont pas venus, les soldats, c'est pas vrai
Car dans la petite église, tous les hommes priaient
Les femmes à la maison préparaient le fricot
Les enfants dans les champs surveillaient les troupeaux
Non, elle n'est pas venue, la si terrible guerre
Qui déchire les familles et crée tant de frontières
Si c'est ça mon histoire, je refuse d'y croire
Je préfère oublier ce qui est arrivé

Grand Pré, tout un peuple qu'on a déporté
Grand Pré, une page d'histoire qu'on a déchirée
Grand Pré, les maisons, les fermes, brûlées
Tout c'qu'on avait bâti s'est effondré
Grand Pré, où sont les Leblanc, les Légères
Sont-ils en Louisiane ou à Belle-Ile-en-Mer
Grand Pré, comment faire pour garder l'espoir
Allons-nous nous revoir, comment savoir
Où se trouve l'Acadie

Dans les prisons de Londres et dans le port de Nantes
Pendant de longues années, ils vécurent dans l'attente
De pouvoir retourner chez eux en Amérique
On les a bien nommés, les piétons de l'Atlantique
Ces braves paysans qui venaient du Poitou
Du Berri, d'la Touraine, d'la Bretagne, de l'Anjou
Ils avaient tout quitté pour un peu d'liberté
On les a condamnés à vivre en exilés

Grand Pré, je ne veux pas vous faire pleurer
Grand Pré, mais je ne peux pas oublier
Grand Pré, que mes ancêtres étaient Français
Et tout ce qu'ils voulaient c'est vivre en paix
Grand Pré, nous n'étions que quelques milliers
Grand Pré, nous n'avons pas abandonné
Grand Pré, aujourd'hui nous pouvons rêver
Trois millions d'Acadiens et d'Acadiennes continuent à chanter

Nous avons survécu
Nous sommes les invaincus
Nous nous sommes relevés
Nous avons triomphé
Nous connaissons la guerre
La faim et la misère
Mais nous n'avons ni frontière
Ni haine, ni regard en-arrière
Nous marchons droit devant
Vers le soleil levant
Fiers de notre héritage
Parlant notre langage
Marchant à notre pas
Chantant Alléluia
Enfants de l'Acadie
Notre histoire nous a grandis
Notre histoire n'est pas finie

Les prisons de Londres

Les prisons de Londres
Dans les prisons de Londres
Dans les prisons de Londres y'avait un prisonnier
Y'avait un prisionnier

Personne ne venais le voir
Personne ne venais le voir que le fille du geolier
Que le fille du geolier

Dites moi donc la belle
Dites moi donc la belle demain si je mourais
Demain si je mourais

Puisque je meurs demain
Puisque je meurs demain Lacher moi dont les pieds
Lacher moi dont les pieds

Quand il eut les pieds laches
Quand il eut les pieds laches à la mer s'est jeté
A la mer s'est jeté

A la première plonge
A la première plonge il a manque se noyer
Il a manqué se noyer

A la deuxième plonge
A la deuxième plonge la mer à traversser
La mer à traversser

Quand il fut sur cette côte
Quand il fut sur cette côte il s'est mis à chanter
Il s'est mis à chanter

Si jamais j'y retourne
Si jamais j'y retourne oui je l'epouserais
Oui je l'epouserais

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Educational Update: Research Qualifications on the Net.

Educational Update: Research Qualifications on the Net.

It's Valentine's Day and I have fallen in love with a new certificate program. In 2004 I applied for a research assistant position at UOW however the PhD candidate wouldn't even meet me face to face. His reply was, "you haven't got the quantitative experience." Well, I remember my dreary days slogging through introductory calculus and minitab twenty years ago. I am sure the science of statistics has also grown more user friendly? So I began seeking out quantitative research certifications available over the net.

The first that caught my eye was the Quantitative Methods in Finance and Risk Management Graduate Certificate from Stanford University and received a prompt reply from Dr. Elena Chardon-Pietri.

How much does it cost?

"The base tuition rate is $1,300/unit. If you are employed by a Stanford Center for Professional Development member company, tuition rate is lower, $1,100/unit. Individual courses typically range from 3-5 units. For the Quantitative Methods in Finance and Risk Management Graduate Certificate you need to register for a total of 9 units. In addition there is a one time fee of $80. (Please note that I am quoting current tuition rates.) And to take courses through the Stanford Center for Professional Development any give quarter, you must enroll for at least 3 units. For further information about the Stanford Center for Professional Development company membership, please visit:"

2. How long are each of the three required courses?

"Stanford University is on the quarter system. Each quarter is ten weeks of lectures followed by exam week. (Some courses do not have a final exam.)"

3. Is it possible to complete entirely through online learning?

"All the courses you would have to take for the certificate will be offered online and accessible 24/7 anywhere you have internet access for the duration of the quarter in which you are registered. The lectures are uploaded and made available online about two hours after each has taken place on campus.

The Spring Quarter is coming up soon; the enrollment period opens today, February 9, and closes March 25. However, it will be in the Summer Quarter when we will be offering STATS 237 and STATS 243, which count towards the certificate you are interested in pursuing."

Additional information

"As part of the enrollment process you will need to submit official academic transcripts to the Stanford Center for Professional Development. We accept faxed copies just to get your file started, but will still need the official transcript(s)."

Submit official transcripts to

SCPD Registration
496 Lomita Mall Durand Bldg, Room 301
Stanford CA 94305-4036

If you are interested in pursuing your education through SCPD, please create a free account at If you do not enroll, you will still get free access to the seminars we offer online.

On visiting their website I selected a few sample videos of the statistics courses and cannot imagine processing those calculations through distance education at this time. However it appears quite close to what I was looking for.

The next program I stumbled upon that I thought might be a good fit is The University of Illinois at Chicago Educational Research Methodology Certificate (ERM) soon to be hopefully approved. Dr. Everett Smith sent a prompt reply and flyer to my enquiry regarding the availability of this program: "There are links on the 6th page to web pages containing more details regarding degree requirements, course descriptions, costs, a schedule of courses (which will be updated soon), and FAQs. Additional information (namely how to apply) will be posted when final University approval is obtained, which is likely to happen this February/early March. I will put you on a list to let you know when this
information is available."

The ERM Certificate will train learners in measurement, evaluation, statistics and assessment and is described as being useful to those seeking instruction in research methods.

However the timing on this program is not yet confirmed so I did a little more digging.

Canada is not often my first choice for distance or online learning; it just appears to trail behind the pack in this regard, and considering Conference Board of Canada's innovation and technology scores for 2008 I am not surprised. However a popular distance learning option these days (I actually took my first distance course from The University of Waterloo when the latest technology was cassette tapes) is available in certificates of business analysis applicable to the IIBA Certification. Ryerson Certificate in Business Analysis, The University of Toronto Business Analysis Program and UBC Certificate in Business Analysis are just a few of the online providers these days.

I decided to put my question to the UBC BEA Program,Client Services responded, "Business Analysis deals with analyzing practices, systems, and procedures within a business in order to identify problems and increase efficiency. This is not a research program."

I had no idea how popular business analysis has become in Canada however I am glad that the learning can be availed at a distance for those actually working on solving problems. However it was clear this program is not what I am looking for at this time but I am glad it is out there.

Finally it almost appears similar to the story of Goldilocks and the three bears (except there are four) as another program came up in my dragnet. The Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation is provided in a consortia of Oz-ian institutions including: Curtin University of Technology, Queensland University of Technology, RMIT University, University of South Australia and University of Technology Sydney. While these are not the top ten schools in Australia they have been making waves and moving up local ladders in terms of quality standards and particularly distance education and offshore franchise degree programs or campuses. I would describe them as entrepreneurial and fairly "switched on" in Asia. Check out QUT's Kelvin Grove Urban Village Development in Brisbane.

eGSA Coordinator Ms. Lisa Reyes responded promptly to my questions regarding this program. eGSA describes on its website, " (it) will support you in developing international research opportunities; industry collaboration and team based interdisciplinary approaches. The course structure provides a unique networking opportunity for research stakeholders encouraging online sharing of experiences and best practice.

Capabilities developed through the program are designed to assist you with the flexibility to perform in an ever changing research environment. The course covers topics including research integrity, research governance, project selection and delivery, advocacy and knowledge transfer. Informed by current theory and best practice the course assessment will focus on your issues and, where possible, articulate with existing workplace based projects."

I liked reading that. In response to my questions Ms. Reyes replied:

1. Am I able to enroll as a distance online student for this certificate program?

"Yes, you are qualified to enrol in the Grad Cert course."

2. What is the total tuition fee for this program?

"You need to complete 4 units to graduate. Each unit will cost $2600 for international student if you commence in semester 2, 2009. The course cost is $10,400."

3. What is the general completion time for part-time or distance students?

"You can take one or two units per semester depending on your workload. We normally say to students to allow 6 to 8 hours per week per unit. Most of our part time students enrol in 2 units per semester so they can finish the course in one year.

Please note that we also have a Master of R&D management course which is 100% online. All your Grad Cert units will be credited towards the Masters course. If you wish, you can enrol in the Master program directly since your academic background will also qualify you to the Master course."

So out of the four the final program stole the show so to speak. It was an interesting search for a research training course which will increase my probability of selection for international research consulting contracts in future and hopefully will provide the right mix of quantitative methods skills to be useful if and when I ever jump ship for a PhD program. But all of these programs appear to have merit and may capture more of my attention in future.

Container Origami

Container Origami
(DC Velocity)

Folding containers could cut space needed to store empties by three-fourths

Prototypes of the SIMIIT Four Pack Folding Container, in development for more than three years, will soon be ready for inspection by marine certification authorities. According to the developers, the folding containers are watertight, and a hydraulic-powered base station can collapse the boxes to one-fourth their size in just a few minutes. Because four folded and stacked containers will take up the same amount of space as a single box does now, ocean carriers will be able to transport and store more empties in far less space. That will mean fewer vessel voyages and truck trips to reposition equipment, they say. A number of ocean carriers and freight forwarders reportedly have expressed interest in the foldable boxes.

Those towering piles of empty containers at shipping terminals around the world may eventually be cut down to size, and it won't be because there are fewer of them. If a venture by a pair of engineering professors from the Indian Institute of Technology and a former banker succeeds, ocean carriers and equipment leasing companies will be able to fold up the big steel boxes for storage.

Articles about the containers and a video showing how the system works can be found at

Friday, February 13, 2009

Buy America is Just the Beginning of Our Trouble

Buy America is Just the Beginning of Our Trouble
(Embassy – Leslie Campbell)

The "Buy American" clause in the U.S. economic stimulus bill could turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of trade hurdles emanating from the new Democratic Congress.

The mini-crisis about Buy American may pass, but it would be a mistake to view its insertion in the bill as an anomaly to be ignored. Congress is in a mood to protect and reward local fiefdoms and to penalize the multi-national corporations perceived to be exporting jobs.

In one example of newfound chutzpah, seven Democratic senators wrote on February 4 to Tom Vilsack, President Barack Obama's agriculture secretary, asking him to revise country-of-origin labelling (COOL) rules to protect against food produced in countries with "fewer health and safety standards" in order to "boost our livestock producers."

Canada and Mexico have the most to lose from COOL and most Canadians would be surprised to learn that their country has fewer health standards than the U.S. The senators' request seems to be aimed more at shoring up domestic industry than genuinely targeting food safety.

In another example of the congressional mood, a bill hidden deep in the shadows of the stimulus debate would, according to its sponsors, give the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) more authority to "enforce trade agreements we already have" in order to "stem the outflow of U.S. manufacturing jobs due to trade competition."

The Senate bill, introduced February 2, is co-sponsored by moderate Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and Montana Democrat Max Baucus, with support from Democrats Kent Conrad and Jay Rockefeller. Calling it the "Trade CLAIM Act," the senators want to force the USTR to act on virtually every complaint about foreign trade practices brought forward by U.S. industry. From Canada's perspective, U.S. industry already uses questionable trade complaints to harass their Canadian counterparts, particularly in the softwood lumber industry.

The same public sentiment that felled the nomination of Tom Daschle and that supports Obama's CEO salary cap is driving this rash of nouveau protectionism. The American public believes it has been victimized by rapacious economic predators and, at least within the context of a debate about disappearing jobs, Canada is viewed as just another vested interest with its snout in the American trough.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich warned in his February 8 column of a "tsunami of populist rage" where citizens rebel against corporate greed, indiscriminate government bailouts and the insiders amassing wealth in Washington.

One of the practical effects of this growing rage is that the legislative body is loathe to spend American public money shoring up employment abroad—which is how many Americans view the ability of foreign (read Canadian) companies to bid on or supply materials for American infrastructure projects.

Congress may confirm the existence of a tacit "Canada exemption" from Buy American as a result of existing trade agreements, at least for now. The next steps in the stimulus drama – a "conference committee" comprised of House and Senate members to reconcile differences in the bills passed by their respective chambers – is likely to lead to a compromise on protectionist language that will assuage Canada's immediate concerns.

Obama's White House, which has already acknowledged the international outcries about protectionism, will have more sway with the conference committee, and the House and Senate conference negotiators are seasoned veterans who know how to calm political storms.

Even so, Canada should treat the Buy American clause as a shot across the bow and prepare to protect against future attacks. It is clear that for at least the next two years, no U.S. politician will suffer from being in favour of keeping jobs at home, punishing corporate greed and staving off rapacious foreigners.

Canada's two favourite arguments – that we're the United States' biggest trading partner and that our economies are so integrated that protectionism inadvertently hurts U.S. interests – seem to be falling on deaf ears.

No matter how hard Canada tries to educate about the volume of trade between the countries, regular Americans either don't hear the messages or don't buy them. Flint Journal columnist and blogger Andrew Heller recently scoffed at Canadian trade protests, suggesting that the worst that could result from Canada's pique is that maple syrup and hockey player exports could be suspended.

Canada likes to make the argument that the two economies are so integrated that protectionist trade actions ultimately harm U.S. industry as much as Canadian. As the argument goes, Americans should somehow be thankful that corporations like Boeing, General Motors, Caterpillar, FedEx, Campbell's Soup and many others have significant operations in Canada. Because of this cross-border integration, we say, American politicians mustn't dare do anything that jeopardizes the corporation's profits or Canadian jobs by protecting purely "parochial" interests.

To American ears, the argument doesn't hold water. It's like saying they should be worried if Nike has to reduce its operations in China or if Dell can no longer outsource to India. That's the point, pro-American legislation proponents would say, force made-in-America solutions and keep jobs and manufacturing at home.

Canadians have to understand that Americans are interested in the jobs and economic benefits associated with corporations' domestic operations, not increasing the bottom line of companies operating in foreign lands, including Canada.

Congress, sensitive to the populist backlash about lost jobs and bankrolled by domestic industry, may find that trade protection resonates with a president who owes much to organized labour. The resulting chemistry could be toxic for Canada and Buy American is just the beginning, not the end.

Commentary: If it is going to be this hard for Canada and Mexico, already US bedfellows, just imagine how challenging it will be for non-KORUS ratified Korea?

Andy Heller continues:


I'm quoted in the story you posted, but it's nonsense. The comment quoted was in a daily joke thing I do on-line called the Daily Monoblog, which consists of late night-style monologue quips, and yet it was quoted as serious. Absolutely ridiculous reporting on that person's part.

Here's a link to my column about that:

Hi Andrew,

I get these articles from import/export Canada as The Embassy is on their listing.

My take is that Canada's export/import community is running with whatever they can find to stir up political resolutions on both sides of the border thickening debate which has been ongoing since 2001.

I would say that thickening has been taking place globally as well.

It's a great quote by the way!

Cheers, Daniel

Thursday, February 12, 2009

China’s January Car Sales Overtake Leading Market, U.S.

China’s January Car Sales Overtake Leading Market, U.S.

China car sales topped the U.S. for the first time last January totalling 735,500, a 14% drop, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said on Tuesday in an e-mailed statement today. That compares with a 37% plunge to 656,693 in the U.S., the world’s largest auto market last year.

Chinese vehicle sales have leapfrogged fivefold over the past decade as export-fuelled economic growth above 10% made General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG cars affordable to more people. This year, demand has fallen less than in the U.S. following on a 4 trillion Yuan (585 billion US dollars) stimulus package which is helping the country avoid the worst of the global recession.

“This just shows how important China has become to the world’s automakers,” said Yale Zhang, director of CSM Asia in Shanghai. “Still, it’s very unlikely that China will stay ahead for the full year. The U.S. has a much bigger consumer market.”

U.S. auto sales fell 18% last year to 13.2 million. China sales increased 6.7% to 9.38 million, according to the association, which represents automakers active in the country. Sales may grow 5% this year, the slowest pace since 1998, according to the group.

Chinese passenger-car sales fell 7.8% in January to 610,600 which is the fifth drop in six months.

However the worldwide auto sales slowdown, which prompted GM and Toyota Motor Corp. to curb production and fire staff, has spread to China as the widening global recession saps demand for the country’s exports.

In a bid to revive domestic vehicle demand, China has abolished road tolls, halved a tax on smaller cars and lowered retail fuel prices. “The government has adopted some effective measures to boost the auto industry,” said Zhang. “It should eventually trigger a sales rebound.”

Chinese automakers are also suffering from increasing domestic competition. The country’s own-brand vehicles lost market share last year as foreign rivals slashed prices to offset slowing global demand. Foreign automakers have to build cars in China through ventures with local partners under a government policy designed to help develop the domestic industry.

Vancouver Ranked Fourth Least Affordable City in the World

Vancouver Ranked Fourth Least Affordable City in the World
(CEP News – Stephen Huebl)

The economic downturn may be taking a toll on real estate across Canada, but prices in Vancouver remain "severely unaffordable", according to a list of the world's least affordable cities. Vancouver ranked fourth on the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, with average house prices at 8.4 times the median income. That means it would take 8.4 years on an average income to purchase a home there. Compare that to Canada's average median of 3.5.

The city was ranked behind Australia's Sunshine coast, which was listed as the world's least affordable place to live. Hawaii's capital Honolulu ranked second, while Australia's Gold Coast came in third.

All of Canada's "severely unaffordable" markets are located in British Columbia, with Victoria ranked number seven, Kelowna at 19 and Abbotsford at 25.

The New York-based Demographia survey, the fifth annual edition, was compiled from third-quarter data in 265 metropolitan markets around the world.

The survey found 87 "affordable" markets, with 77 in the U.S. and ten in Canada. Canada's most affordable housing market is in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where the median house price is just 2.1 times the median income. Other affordable markets are Thunder Bay, ranked 12th, and Windsor and Chatham, both ranked 17th.

Commentary: Report says it all. I always knew I came from the most affordable part of Canada. Too bad it doesn't afford enough jobs. Look at that Cape Breton - the best singers and most affordable place in Canada.

Idled Ships Used for Empty Box Storage

Idled Ships Used for Empty Box Storage
(American Shipper – Eric Johnson)

It appears liner carriers are trying to make use of all the containerships idled by poor global demand by using them as floating container storage yards.

“Over the course of the last two months, several large units sitting at Far East anchorages were spotted with deck-loads of empty boxes,” maritime news service AXS-Alphaliner reported Monday. “Some carriers figured that is was cheaper to pay a handling charge once and have their empties loaded onto their ships, rather than paying the daily per-TEU storage fees charged by terminal and container depot operators (used when the carrier's own depots are full).

“State-of-the-art containerships have thus become mere storage hulls, anchored in roads in the vicinity of Singapore, at Hong Kong’s anchorages or in the Hangzhou Bay. Empties storage at sea allows carriers to save significant amounts of money, since storage fees – though individually rather modest – add up over time and with an ever-growing inventory of unwanted empties.”

Last week, Ben Hackett, a consultant with IHS Global Insight mentioned the phenomenon in an interview with American Shipper. “Laid up ships are being used to store empty containers as these build up at both ends of the trade,” he said.

The use of idled vessels for empty container storage is both an innovative solution to an ongoing problem, but also a sign of how low the market has sunk, and how little faith carriers seem to have in any sort of quick rebound.

Commentary: It sounds like the party's over?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Tragically Hip - The Bear - 13 Music @ Work.m4v

Canadian expats risk becoming 'second-class' citizens: study

Canadian expats risk becoming 'second-class' citizens: study
Duncan Mavin, Hong Kong, Financial Post
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ottawa must do more to build ties with Canadians living abroad or risk losing the economic benefit of the country's large, educated, and sometimes influential, overseas population, according to a report from a think-tank on Canada's relations with Asia.

"As we have come to accept that overseas affiliates of Canadian corporations are net overseas assets that can generate long-term benefits for the country, now we need to consider the Canadian diaspora as a long-term asset to be cultivated, not spurned," said Kenny Zhang, of the Vancouver-based Asia-Pacific Foundation.

Comments: Alarmist talk? Second-class citizens? What about the million British passport holders in Hong Kong who had their citizenship revoked? As for native born Canadians living and working abroad I can attest that second-class treatment of general arts majors graduating from Canadian universities might have a strong claim regarding their skill sets in Canada. My most recent research of Canadian affiliates of Canadian corporations operating abroad revealed their lack of even moderate levels of self-promotion either through Canadian embassies abroad or local advertising abroad. Wherever they may be they appear to desire low levels of visibility and provide few opportunities for employing Canadian expats abroad.

Mr. Zhang and his colleagues have found that Canadian tax, citizenship and voting rules contribute to a sense that there is a two-tier system that disadvantages Canada's expats.

Different rules "have in fact created two groups of Canadians: 'full fledged' Canadians residing in Canada and 'lesser' Canadians, or foreigners with Canadian passports, living abroad," he said in the report.

There are 2.7-million Canadians living overseas - proportionately more Canadians live abroad than citizens of the U.S., Australia, India or China - including some influential and successful businesspeople with strong ties to Canada.

In Hong Kong, for instance, telecoms billionaire Richard Li sits on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council and is well-known for his progressive views on the territory's move toward democracy. Mr. Li is also a regular visitor to Canada, where he began his working career with investment dealer Gordon Capital, and his philanthropy includes a $1-million donation to the Canadian National Arts Centre Foundation.

In nearby Macau, University of Toronto grad Lawrence Ho, the so-called "Prince of Macau" runs much of that city's gambling business, and has also been the recipient of numerous Asian business awards. Elsewhere, Canadian Don Lam of Vinacapital is the guru on investing in Vietnam.

But there are also many others who are often highly-skilled, and well connected to international networks of trade and commerce. The Asia Pacific Foundation found for instance that Canadians moving to Hong Kong are heavily concentrated among young people in professional positions or higher-level managerial jobs.

The Foundation's research indicated that the policy issues related to having so many Canadians living abroad extends into consular affairs, trade, innovation, health and finance.

Of particular current concern is a new law, set to come into affect in April that will prevent children born to or adopted by Canadians outside the country from passing citizenship on to their children if they are also born abroad - in other words children born to naturalized Canadians would not have the same citizenship rights as children of those born in Canada.

The new rules "will create a two-tiered system with children born or adopted overseas relegated to an 'inferior' class of citizenship," Mr. Zhang said. The controversy over the new legislation has been front page news in the main English language newspaper in Hong Kong where there are about a quarter of a million Canadian passport holders.

Commentary: How many of these are former British passport holders? Why does the Asia Pacific Research Foundation appear to focus on Hong Kong or Macau related issues? Why are Canadian expatriate teachers and other professionals not mentioned in relation to this issue? Where are the statistics describing percentages of Canadian university graduates who eventually become Canadian non-residents?

Suggestions in the Asia Pacific Foundation's report include that Canadians abroad should be consulted on changes to immigration and citizenship rules, and that consideration should be given to having a member of parliament to represent the interests of the approximately 9% of Canadians living overseas.

Commentary: An itinerant Member of Parliament? The world will become one unique Canadian constituency?

In a separate report last month, the Foundation also urged Ottawa to "embrace Chinese transnationalism."

Commentary: Is the Asia Pacific Foundation's principle interest Chinese transnationals?

"Canada will lose out in the global quest for talent in the knowledge-based economy unless it updates some of its ideas and policies on immigration," the report said.

Commentary: Canada will lose out? Canada HAS lost out into untold billions of lost income especially in its non-competitive position on transnational and distance learning educational franchises globally but especially in Asia. A Pan-Asian dialogue approach which capitalizes on the skills and experiences of Canadian expat professionals regardless of their ethnic origins and rather than a single issue foundation focus perhaps a global transnational Canadians focus in Asia would benefit all Canadians present here in Asia rather than a few Chinese transnationals in Hong Kong or Macau.

Highly-skilled Chinese-Canadians are likely to return to their country of origin unless Canada can provide attractive career opportunities to match those in China, the report warned. Ottawa should also review taxation policies, rules on intellectual property rights and citizenship, to try to foster better relationships with Chinese-Canadians that return to China for work.

Commentary: While I am happy to see any improvements which can be made in Canada's resourceful approach to capitalizing on its expat populations in Asia, I cannot speak for Chinese transnationals regarding any of their threats to revoke their own citizenship rights or Canadian passports. Personally I wouldn't leave home without it and you would have to wrestle me to the ground before I would give it up voluntarily. I have seen and I have learned. In my opinion this would be the difference between Canadians in Asia and Canadian wannabes without a global and multicultural approach to Asia or Canada for that matter. No where in the article is the report or author of it even named.

Monday, February 09, 2009

World Business: A Brave New World 30/01/09

Davos Annual Meeting 2009 - Rebooting the Global Economy

Non-profit education company gets loan for Abu Dhabi contract

Non-profit education company gets loan for Abu Dhabi contract
Fri. Feb 6 (Chronicle Herald)

The Nova Scotia government has provided a non-profit company, which has secured a contract in Abu Dhabi, with a $250,000 loan to help with start-up costs.

EduNova of Halifax is in the first year of a three-year, $24-million contract to help Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates implement a new school curriculum and train teachers and principals.

The company, which is a co-operative of public and private educational institutions from across Nova Scotia, fosters international connections in education and training. It recruits experienced teachers and school administrators to mentor teachers and principals overseas

The loan is to help with recruitment, travel and housing associated with the Abu Dhabi contract, said Ava Czapalay, president of EduNova.

"Essentially we had to mobilize 41 staff, and in Abu Dhabi you have to pay for a year’s worth of accommodation up front," she said. "The loan from the province is to help us manage the size of that contract."

Members of EduNova, which got its start in 2004, include Nova Scotia universities; public, private and independent schools; the Nova Scotia Community College; and local companies with specialized training experience.

It is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Department of Economic Development and members of the co-operative.

From Vancouver, with Love: a prayer for Gaza from Elders of the Coast Salish Territory

Peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

South Korea Gives Music Industry $91 Million Bailout

South Korea Gives Music Industry $91 Million Bailout
2/5/2009 By Brock Thiessen (

If you’re sick of the Conservatives and their arts-cutting ways, you may want to consider making the move to South Korea, a country whose government cares enough about its music industry to give it a $91-million bailout.

South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry this week unveiled the new rescue plan, saying the government aims to “globalize” the country’s pop music and help the industry bounce back from music piracy. Ministers hope the five-year plan will double the country’s annual music sales, both online and in the shops, and make music a $1.2 billion industry in South Korea by 2013, the ministry said in a statement [via Agence France-Presse].

As part of the bailout package, the ministry will fund the construction of several new concert halls, a K-pop hall of fame, a Korean version of the U.S. Billboard charts and an annual music awards ceremony. The ministry will also help financially support 35,000 noraebangs (karaoke bars without alcohol) by providing them with new music equipment.

"It's crucial to protect songwriters from online piracy in order to globalize K-pop music," a ministry official told AFP. "It's difficult to expect a songwriter to produce good contents when his products are being easily stolen."

Now, when is the last time you heard a politician in Canada give two hoots about helping out Canadian music, not to mention keeping our artists above the poverty line? (And no, election time doesn’t count.)

Commentary: Interesting description of noraebangs. If you have visited one which did not serve alcohol please let me know.

Friday, February 06, 2009

How this blog got called cross-cultural reviews

How this blog got called cross-cultural reviews

My favourite course when I was studying at The University of Wollongong was cross cultural management taught by Mr. Matt Ngui who was himself a transplanted Malaysian Chinese Australian immigrant. Kudos to Matt!

I fell into studying international business out of boredom but I really like it and as cross-cultural management was an optional course and considered soft skills it was seen as least relevant to many while at the same time nearly 70% of the students were coming from south-east Asia where it was often plain to see in class the cultural challenges in global business. I found it a lot more interesting than quality or operations management.

How much do you know about cross cultural management behaviour?

If you read Clyde Klukhohn’s Mirror for Man (1949) which is a beautiful book every time I read it, you will discover the first actual cultural comparisons ever made in anthropology. In particular you will find the first theoretical description and defence of ethnocentrism. He describes it as a natural and acceptable assumption that one’s own culture is superior to all others. However as you may or may not have discovered it is extremely challenging to do so in anything other than a culturally dualistic sense if you were bred cross-culturally yourself.

The only thing my parents had in common was religion and a mutual love. They are kind, civil but extremely stubborn people. My father was a history major prior to becoming a regional administrator of social services. My mother was an art teacher prior to becoming a housewife, tour guide and rag rug hooker/quilter. Dad had a rich library of books and isolated us in the countryside. I would say Nova Scotia in the 1970s and 1980s was a lot like the US was in the 1950s. I emerged from that world and didn’t realize the gift that it was until I was long gone and that world too is long gone. Cognitive dissonance and group psychology appear to become easier to identify when you become an expat. If nobody knew what their culture was at a particular moment in time or place, such as integers in calculus, how would they ever really know what progress or lack of progress their culture has made since as an outside or islander looking in? The context becomes missing.

Ethnocentrism is hardwired in our implicit responses according to many theories on social cognition. But comparing the systems all started with Klukhohn who provided the MS DOS for all further research. His precepts are carried through Hofstede, Hampden-Turner, Trompennars, and Edward T. & Mildred Hall. All of these folks have provided a storehouse of research on cross cultural management behaviour mostly because it is so essential and responsible for the somewhat completely successful corporatization of planet earth which didn’t happen by chance. It’s probably similar to ESL which has provided a wealth of language acquisition research when compared to other less global languages in terms of practical experimentation and methodology. In growing globally our corporate business systems have increasingly influenced our cultural consciousness and overtly manipulate national cultures. I have a lot of their books here ~ you might appreciate reading them.

The more I’ve read about cultural psychology the more I accept that almost all of our cultural consciousness has become similarly tuned to the corporate and commercial organization of our world which succeeded due to study and application of cross-cultural research. I tend to believe that independent or individual self-identity doesn’t really appear to exist outside of culturally implanted precepts of what is socially acceptable individuality and never has. That one’s concept of self is implanted there, filtered there, moulded and remoulded there but is never unchanging and is never entirely one’s own. Might be one of the reasons I continue to study as I’d like to keep it moving at my own personal pace. Maybe I’m trying to outrun myself?

Since December 15th I’ve been on holiday and have digested two reams of data preparing for a contract as Senior Consultant for an APEC research project on Korean Food Logistics and Supply Chain to answer the question, “Can food prices be reduced?” However notification of acceptance has not arrived yet and proposal start date is approaching. It may never arrive. At the same time I consumed 355 pages of large binder text (written by lawyers) for a Canadian Forum of International Trade Training course in Legal Aspects of International Trade and am preparing for a three hour multiple choice exam on it.

Since you are reading about culture I thought you would appreciate reading these three papers as I thought they were some of the best I’ve read this holiday and while not specifically on culture fill in a lot of local blanks on cultural influences. I am attaching them as links to Asian Perspective.

Kiseon Chung and Hyun Choe (2008) South Korean National Pride: Determinants, Changes and Suggestions. I liked this one because it explores age differences.

Scott Snyder (2008) The Future of US-ROK Relations: The US Approach. Snyder is a great writer.

Martin Hart-Landsberg (2004) The South Korean Economy and US Policy. It makes Lee Myung Bak appear somewhat like a martyr.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Idle Fleet Hits 800K TEUs

Idle Fleet Hits 800K TEUs
(Journal of Commerce – Bruce Barnard)

Idled ocean container capacity has reached a record 800,000 TEUs with 303 ships at anchor as carriers cut or consolidate services on key east-west routes amid declining traffic and freight rates. The unemployed figure represents 6.5% of the world fleet, twice the 3.2% recorded in the depth of the 2002 bear market, according to AXS-Alphaliner, a Paris-based consultant.

The idled fleet has grown by 48 ships of 125,000 TEUs in the past two weeks and is set to increase as carriers further retrench operations, Alphaliner predicts. On October 25, 2008, there were just 70 ships of 150,000 TEUs without work.

The jobless fleet includes nine vessels of between 7,500 TEUs and 10,000 TEUs capacity, 34 ships of 5,000-7,500 TEUs and 57 of 3,000-5,000 TEUs. The feeder sector remains the most vulnerable with 85 ships of 1,000-2,000 TEUs lying at anchor.

The rising number of unemployed vessels is reflected in the 15% reduction in total capacity on offer on the three main east-west routes over the six months to February 1, according to Alphaliner. Capacity has fallen from a weekly 916,000 TEUs to 780,000 TEUs.

The Far East-Europe trade has seen the deepest cuts, with capacity tumbling 21% to 333,000 TEUs from 418,000 TEUs.The closure of several service loops in December and January alone removed 50,000 TEUs of weekly capacity, which is now down to its lowest level since May, 2007.

Capacity on the Far East-North America trades has fallen 9% to 335,000 TEUs from 376,000 TEUs, and the Europe/Med-North America route is down 4.5% to 116,000 TEUs from 121,500 TEUs.

Commentary: A 15.6% increase in idleness in two weeks. This is set to double in severity if the rate of increase in idleness continues at 15.6% using the 60 divided by anything formula. Then we will have double the number of idled ships in about seven and a half weeks or the first week of April if we do not touch bottom. If the rate of idleness increases to say 20% we will have double the number of idled ships in the middle of the Ides of March. That would mean 13% of the worlds fleet and possibly 13% of all production and supply chain jobs in the world.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Ode to a Manioc: Short Discussion on Korea’s Agricultural Tariffs

Ode to a Manioc: Short Discussion on Korea’s Agricultural Tariffs

Average Applied Agricultural Tariffs (Farm Policy Facts)

The recent news that Doha Round ratifications are high on developed nation agendas as a response to global economic crisis may be the impetus required to pass new tariff regulations which could seriously impact upon Korea’s local produce and food production capacities.

Lim Song-Soo describes in “Impacts of the Doha Round on Korea’s Agricultural Tariff Profile”(2008) that reforms have continued progressively since the Uruguay Round Agreement On Agriculture (URAA) which started in 2000 but that the DDA or Doha Development Agenda remains incomplete. All WTO Ministers were in agreement that export subsidies be removed by 2013 however the text of the agreement contained 200 parentheses or options which required resolution as of early 2008. Will ministers be able to ratify the agreement in 2009 or is their will to do merely hot political wind?

Lim describes that Korea once possessed 1,453 tariff lines in its implementation schedule yet progressively increased those to 1,469 in 2007. This would appear counter-intuitive unless Korea is harbouring some as yet undeclared infant agricultural industries. The diminuitive manioc, also known as the lowly yuca, the meagre mogo or middling mandioca, a similar poor cousin to the domestic sweet potato, possesses the highest (most exorbident) import tariff at 887% which then leads to raw pellets, grisley groat and mealy meal, groat being grains or hulled cereals, wholesome oats, whispering wheat, bountiful barley, or bodacious buckwheat with stellar 800% import tariffs. Oh where, oh where is Alfala?


These also represent largest proportions of highest imported food products by coincidence other than meats. Stamina inducing ginsengs and their royal derivatives are protected with tariffs exceeding a whopping 750%. Seedling sesames,bouncing beans, "morning holler" soya products, piddling potatoes, gentle gingers, quivering corns, up-start starch, emerald green teas, glittering garlics and rude red peppers are all imported grudgingly with similar stupendous tariffs. Korea’s tariff quota system reveals few real benefits for local consumers. It appears the entire system which appears to border upon barrier to trade is under serious threat in the case of Doha Ratification as protected or sensitive products will be required to adjust to a tiered set of reduction formulas from one-third, or one-half to two thirds which will slowly benefit consumers with lowered food prices as a hopeful result.

Lim also reveals Korea’s tariffs are 63.2% on average which is near the average for non-OECD nations of which Korea is no longer an outstanding member. In comparison to member nations of OECD of which Korea sought out to be a part, this figure appears bloatedly large. US and EU average agricultural bound tariff rates are under 11% and 23%. OECD averages are 36% with Japan at 42%. Which makes Korea appear perhaps one foot in the developed world and one in the rice paddy. Following Doha Ratification tariff rates on some highlighted products would drop significantly. For example, 82% drops in red peppers and 110% garlic tariffs reductions could be expected, as well tariffs on imported ginseng would need to drop 754% while Korea would be permitted to maintain 8% tariff lines as high tariffs which would translate to maintenance of no more than 118 of its current 1,469 tariff lines as of 2007.

Tariffs on sensitive products which are described as rices, barleys, red peppers, garlic flower, onions, beef and pork, chickens, milk powder, Korean citrus, ginsengs, sesames, chestnut would be subjected to tiered formula reductions in import tariffs at a minimum 33.33% drops overall which might translate into lowered consumer costs somewhere down the road. However it appears difficult to correspond Korea’s OECD membership with a WTO designated developing nation tariff status. At that point Lim describes developed nation tariff reduction scenarios which would meet minimum tariff reductions of 54%. All in all the tariff reductions requirements for Doha Round ratification will be challenging in terms of Korea’s current market access positioning and what many economists see as a wholey protected agricultural market at odds with its OECD or developed nation status.

Rice remains a pot sticking point in terms of market protection and sensitive product designation in Korea as no special protection measures would mean that both the US and China would most highly benefit from such sudden lack of import tariff provisions. However Alvaro Durand-Morat and Eric J. Wales in “Sensitive Product Designation in the Doha Round: The Case of Rice” (2006) describe minimal impacts on importer considerations in Korea with or without special designation scenarios especially because rice production in India, and the US does not include many Korean varieties as of yet. However volume imports would increase demand for US and Chinese exporters in rice derivative products here or anything which is not arriving at table in a rice bowl. It would not appear an excessive conclusion that designating particular strains of Korean rice unique to the Korean palate as sensitive rather than the entire panoply of rices of the world and their derivative rice products might be a more sensible scenario as Koreans do not appear to grow many or any of them. Otherwise the mighty manioc might actually be set loose on the local competition.

What I would really like to see is the simple ability to purchase a single mackerel out of a little basket at the local 10 day market rather than the two at a set minimum price. Sadly fish are not agricultural products.

Attention all International Business and Trade Students!

American University’s Kogod School of Business – Washington Semester Program

American University’s Kogod School of Business – Washington Semester Program is inviting junior and senior undergraduate students majoring in International Business and Trade from around the world to apply for the prestigious sixty year old program of experiential learning in International Business and Trade starting August 2009.

The fall of 2009 experience is particularly unique: students will have the opportunity to interact with the newly elected president’s economic team in the White House, State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department, US- Trade Representatives, Federal Reserve Board and US Export Import Bank. Elected representatives of important committees in the United State Congress and senior officials of International Development organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Inter-American Development Bank are also included in this program.

In addition, students will have the opportunity to meet and interact with representatives of Fortune 500 Multinational Corporations, and lobbyists of Trade Blocks from around the globe, strategically positioned in the Washington Metropolitan area. Business students may undertake an internship in a profit or non-profit organizations and acquire hands-on knowledge and experience in US businesses and complete either an intensive research project or an elective from regular university course offerings (total of 15 credits).

For three days of each week, students will participate in intellectual discussions with major players in US business and those who shape world trade policies. For further information about the Washington Semester Program, please visit

Due to an overwhelming demand to attend this program, and the program’s limited space, Washington Semester will accept no more than 75 students. Students are selected through the following competitive criteria: academic aptitude, English language proficiency and a well-developed career plan in international business and trade or closely related field. Full or partial Scholarships are available for both US and International students and are based on individual needs.

Application Deadline is April 15, 2009. For further information contact:

A. Y. Zohny, LL. M, PhD
Academic Director of International Business and Trade
American University , Kogod School of Business
Washington Semester Program, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW , Washington , DC

Phone: 202-895-4916 Fax: 202-895-4939 E-mail:
American University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action University and employer.

Trade Ministers to Strive for Doha Deal This Year

Trade Ministers to Strive for Doha Deal This Year

Trade ministers from two dozen countries pledged on Saturday to seek to resolve this year their remaining differences in the Doha Round of world trade talks.

In a statement, released after the ministers met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in this Swiss ski resort, they also pledged to refrain from raising new trade barriers.

Ahead of the talks, hosted by the Swiss government, politicians warned that measures to block imports to save jobs would deepen the crisis, as happened in the 1930s Great Depression.

Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard said ministers could meet on the Doha Round before the April 2 G20 summit of world leaders, which wants to settle on clear actions for tackling the global economic and financial crisis.

"We have to build a better understanding for trade at home. The opening up of markets is the best (thing) we can do to fight the crisis," she said.


Leuthard said the negotiations were in good shape and Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day was equally upbeat.

"There was a very strong focus (that) there should be no lapses back into anything protectionist," he said. "There is a high level of optimism and a high level of desire that something would happen.”

"There is momentum coming out of this meeting."

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier said Washington was working to ensure that any stimulus package for its economy was in line with international trade rules.

Ministers had expressed concern that "Buy America" provisions in the $825 billion stimulus bill passed by the House of Representatives could shut imports of other countries out of the U.S. market and fuel protectionism.

Many fear the rules would prompt a wave of tit-for-tat measures, exactly as happened in the 1930s.

"We are certainly working with the Congress, with the White House, to make sure whatever we do in response to the economic crisis is consistent with our obligations," Allgeier told Reuters after the meeting.

The gloomy economic situation and protectionist measures already taken by several trading powers, however, make for a tough backdrop.

The European Union imposed on Saturday import duties of up to 85 percent on screws and bolts from China, a move likely to trigger retaliatory action by Beijing at the WTO.

In recent weeks, top trading powers such as the United States, China and Germany have reported falls in exports at the end of last year, and international air cargo volumes dropped by nearly one fifth in December.

Unanswered Call

At a summit in November to tackle the economic crisis, leaders of the G20 rich and emerging nations agreed to push for a breakthrough in the Doha talks, launched seven years before, by the end of 2008, and not to raise any new barriers to trade.

However, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy then decided that the gaps were still too wide to call in ministers for a final push, in spite of progress on several thorny issues in industry and farming over the year.

The G20 meeting was quickly followed by tariff hikes by India on steel and by non-WTO member Russia on cars.

Since then, the European Union has outraged farm exporters, rich and poor, by resuming export subsidies on dairy produce -- something that would be banned under a Doha agreement but is allowed under current trade rules.

"It's of deep concern," New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser told Reuters ahead of Saturday's talks. "I hope to see the suspension of these measures as soon as possible to avoid other countries following suit."

Ministers hope the next meeting of the G20, to be hosted by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in early April, will renew the push for a Doha deal and a commitment to trade openness.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Peace Between Israel and Palestine?

Could President Obama be expected to engage punitive boycotts on Israel concerning Palestine and resolution of a peaceable accord between those two nations?

Unacceptable International Economic Boycotts

Unacceptable International Economic Boycotts

Activities the Canadian government finds unacceptable which would lead it to refrain from assisting Canadian companies that participate in international economic boycotts:

Engaging in discriminatory practices based on race, national/ethnic origin, religion of any Canadian firms or individuals.

Refusing to purchase from or sell to any other Canadian firms or individuals.

Refraining from purchases from any country.

Restricting commercial investments/economic activities in any country.

It appears that Canadian anti-boycott legislation can be traced to US legislation concerning Arab boycotts of Israel where the United States exercised extraterritorial consequences for foreign subsidiaries of American corporations engaging in U.S. trade not only in Arabia but also in Canada.

Canada Business Corporation Act: Discussion Paper Directors' And Other Corporation Residency Issues (1995) describes, "the most notorious assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction occurred in the Siberian pipeline dispute. In June 1982, in response to Soviet involvement in political repression in Poland, the United States imposed sanctions on the export and re-export of goods and technical data relating to oil and gas exploration, transmission and refinement." As a result Canada's legislation was reformed to fall in line with US legislation, which is not uncommon, as described in the same policy paper, "laws relating to such diverse areas as restrictive business practices, export controls, securities (both in respect of corrupt practices and Arab boycott legislation), bankruptcy and insolvency, taxation (state unitary taxes), to name only some, have been applied to acts the primary locus of which has been in Canada."

There are those who are positionally opposed to limitations of government support for those companies participating in unacceptable boycotts such as described by Professor Michael Mandel in concern for Gaza Occupation by Israel. There was the moral argument made by Yitzhak Rabin that essentially Israelis and Palestinians need to learn how to live with each other. It appears many Israelis did not agree with him either. The escalation of atrocities on both sides might some day cause the world to choose a mutual boycott of both sides until a peace accord similar to the Oslo Accords may be signed and similar to the economic boycott of South Africa which successfully toppled apartheid. Both Israelis and Palestinians appear to share the same sentiments concerning solutions when a snake enters the house. It is unfortunate and represents one of the world's sadly most unresolved continuously festering exemplifications of conflict without resolution despite earnest international negotiation efforts. At least it has provided fodder for several negotiation texts.

The terms of political statements should be limited by an international business if only on reputational grounds as it would maximize customer base and profits. The problem with legislated policies is that the politics and social general public concensus may change faster than legislation and might cause some to question the rationale behind such legislation during instances of graphic atrocities from both sides of an issue. How can one politically or morally support one side and not the other in that case?


"A Call for Morally Responsible Investment: A Non-Violent Response to the Israeli Occupation"(International Conference, October 26-29, 2005 in Toronto, Canada) Michael Mandel, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto.

What procedure can you follow to protect your business from unfair competition?

What procedure can you follow to protect your business from unfair competition?

Our text is not very encouraging regarding this topic. Under the terms of most favoured nation (MFN) status there can be no discrimination among WTO nations between imported and domestic goods which might prove a good argument for the importer in question. The local small business can first investigate the percentage basis tariffs levied on the competitor product to determine if it has been properly assigned and whether or not invoices represent transaction value as opposed to some lower independent value. Further investigation of product origin might determine whether import tariffs are appropriate. However this research may be expensive and beyond the means of the local business.

The best recourse would be to make enquiries to SIMA the Canadian Border Services Agency's "Special Import Measures Act" to perform an investigation to determine whether the competitor's products are being dumped and at what margin or processes. Then initiating an investigation with CITT or "The Canadian International Trade Tribunal" would decide whether or not the goods were being dumped and what material injury or retardation of locally produced goods and trade could be revealed. If dumping is judged to have occured a levying of a preliminary duty on the competitor's product remains until investigation is completed.

CITT would then evaluate the small business's concerns, such as: order losses, market and profit share losses, excess inventory, employment losses, deteriorating or supressed prices, erosion of margins, delayed or cancelled plant construction, distribution cost increases, research and development losses, reduced real estate valuations and bankruptcies. Then CITT would conclude the extent of material injury resulting from a proven case of dumping.

It is possible that the competitor's product is not being dumped illegally. It could also be found that point of origin subsidies would reveal unfair trade practices at a governmental or regulatory level. SIMA might choose to levy higher duties upon the imported product and initiate countervailing duties.

However gathering specific evidence in foreign origin markets could be difficult. However it would not be likely that any small business could influence the government to challenge serious GATT or WTO violations unless a powerful lobby group could be formed to protest for government actions.

"Anti-dumping and Countervailing"

"Canadian International Trade Tribunal"

acadian driftwood, the band

IMF Chief Economist Predicts 3% Global Growth in 2009

Ban Ki-moon issues call to action to tackle forgotten global food crisis

Coffee Shortage Expected

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Collapse in world trade says IMFDavid Uren, Economics correspondent | January 29, 2009

WORLD trade collapsed by nearly 45 per cent in annual terms in the final three months of last year, according to new International Monetary Fund figures that expose the staggering depth of the global financial crisis.

And the IMF has predicted dealing with the economic storm will force governments to drive their budgets deep into deficit, indicating that Australia could expect a $35 billion deterioration in its budget bottom line.

The bleak assessment, released early this morning, declares the global economy is in the grip of a "pernicious feedback loop" triggered by the collapse of credit and stock markets and warns there will be no recovery until governments take forceful action to restore confidence in financial markets.

"Downside risks continue to dominate, as the scale and scope of the current financial crisis have taken the global economy into uncharted waters," the report says.

Falling share and property prices are forcing businesses and households to cut their spending, while new credit has been choked.

"Global output and trade plummeted in the final months of 2008," it says.

The advanced countries are expected to produce 2 per cent less this year than last year, with world trade volumes to drop by 2.8 per cent.

"Despite wide-ranging policy actions, financial strains remain acute, pulling down the real economy," the IMF report says.

It calls upon nations to co-ordinate their economic rescue packages. Kevin Rudd held his first direct conversation with US President Barack Obama yesterday morning to discuss the crisis.

Wayne Swan said yesterday that figures detailing the extent of the downturn late last year were only just now being released, but said the Government was prepared to act. "One of the things that this Government does is that it gets ahead of the game," the Treasurer said.

Mr Swan said that, although Australia's economy was better placed than most countries, it could not resist the pull of international forces.

"Against the sobering backdrop of a global recession and collapsing commodity prices, it is inevitable that Australian jobs and growth will be affected," he said.

The IMF stresses the importance of government action to reverse the economic slide. It says growth could start to recover late next year, with 3 per cent world growth possible.

"The outlook is highly uncertain, and the timing and pace of the recovery depend critically on strong policy actions."

The IMF says that timely budget stimulus packages had to provide a key support to world growth, with any delays likely to worsen prospects. It says such packages should be temporary and allow for deficits to be eliminated once conditions improve.

The IMF acknowledges that countries face a dilemma in responding to the crisis, as budget stimulus packages run the risk of generating unsustainable budget deficits. However, it says there is a risk that the world economy would be even worse than forecast unless "stronger financial strains and uncertainties are forcefully addressed."

The IMF forecasts that advanced countries will average budget deficits equivalent to 7 per cent of GDP this year.

In Australia, that would be equivalent to a deficit of around $80 billion, out of a total budget of $300 billion.

Australia's deficit will not sink that far, as its starting point is much better than most other developed countries, however, the IMF calculations suggest that a $35 billion deterioration in the budget bottom line should be expected.

The IMF says the threat of inflation has disappeared under the weight of the global downturn, and is now being supplanted by a risk of deflation.

Australia's consumer price index fell by 0.3 per cent in the December quarter, its biggest drop in 11 years, because of the sharp fall in oil prices.
The underlying rate of inflation, which takes out extreme movements and is tracked closely by the Reserve Bank, rose by 0.75 per cent in the quarter, which, if sustained, would get inflation back to the target band of 2per cent to 3 per cent.

Mr Swan confirmed that inflation was no longer the Government's main economic concern.

"The balance of risk globally as well as here changed from fighting inflation on the one hand to supporting growth and jobs on the other."

Financial markets expect the RBA will focus on the rapid deterioration of the global economy in deciding on another large rate cut at its board meeting on Tuesday.

Westpac interest rate strategist Damien McColough said financial markets expected the bank to lower the official rate by between 0.75 and 1 percentage point. If passed through to home buyers, it would reduce mortgage rates below 6 per cent for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Mr McColough said the growth outlook for both the world and the Australian economies had worsened significantly since the last RBA meeting early last month.

The biggest downgrade in the IMFs forecasts were for the "newly industrialised" countries in Asia, which include key markets for Australia such as Korea and Taiwan. They are expected to contract 3.9 per cent this year; the IMF was tipping 2.1per cent growth last November.

The crucial Chinese economy is expected to grow 6.7 per cent, down from an earlier forecast of 8.3 per cent, while Russia will slump to a 0.7per cent contraction.

Commodity prices will continue to fall, with oil prices tipped to almost halve, while "non-fuel" commodity prices will drop 29.1 per cent.