Sure China is a competitor but it's also a marketplace

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Much of the press coverage on the current state of US-China commercial relations is focused on competition, and not enough on the market for American goods and services.

China as a competitor has been dominating press headlines for years. Candidates seeking high office in the United States have been informing voters that China is a competitor and the only solution is tough action. Political columnists use China to score easy points and advance one-sided protectionist remedies.

Years of one-sided opinion is having a negative impact on US-China commercial relations and is fostering a tit-for-tat retaliatory tariff environment.

In the United States, negative views of China have increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity towards China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the United States in every year since 2014.

A January 2017 Pew Research survey of Americans found that 65 percent of respondents said China is either an adversary (22 percent) or a serious problem (43 percent), while only about a third (31 percent) said China is not an issue.

And in a separate Spring 2016 survey by Pew Research, a majority (55 percent) of Americans held an unfavorable opinion of what more and more Americans see as their largest Asian rival.

This hostile environment is the public affairs reality that American business is facing right now.

Many now see China, one of America's most significant and most promising markets, as a loser for US business. Unfortunately, this belief is fertile ground for politicians supporting protectionist policies and trade halting tariffs. Actions that if successfully passed would force Beijing to respond with retaliatory trade tactics including increased limits stifling full access to the growing Chinese consumer marketplace for American goods and services.

It is time for those that care about a productive and engaged US-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables for backyard BBQs.

For far too long American business has overly relied on a model dependent on high-level government relationships and support from the White House and corresponding federal agencies to manage the US-China relationship.

This model to manage the US-China relationship is exhausted and broken.

US companies exported $135 billion in goods to China in 2017, and it is still the third-largest US goods export market behind Canada and Mexico, our neighbors and NAFTA partners.

Thirty states experienced at least triple-digit goods export growth to China since 2006, and four states saw growth of more than 500 percent over the same period: Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and South Carolina. Every US state had triple-digit services export growth to China since 2006, 16 states had export growth of more than 400 percent.

At a grassroots level, it is critical to remind Americans US goods and services exported to China come from a wide range of industries. Goods such as transportation equipment, agriculture products, computers and electronics, and chemicals. These exports also sustain logistics jobs in America’s ports and warehouses throughout the country.  Also, US services exports come from the travel, education, and transportation sectors as well as professional business and financial services.

Leaders of American business needs to play a decisive role in reversing this trend and ensuring American goods and services reach the ever-expanding Chinese marketplace. Sitting on the sidelines will be too detrimental for America's economic security. 

- Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of international politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.
 

Managing globalization to meet your business destiny

“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent
that the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
– George Orwell


Globalization has significantly changed the nature of American politics forging a new generational paradigm. 

How business proceeds in this new public affairs environment is a challenge that few are ready to engage.

The election of Donald Trump has uniquely changed the Republican Party into something entirely different than it was just two years ago. Bernie Sanders, who forced Hillary Clinton to tack left in the primaries, has done the same to the Democratic Party.  

For Election 2018 and Election 2020, American politics will see a tremendous amount of shifting and movement between the two parties as they redefine themselves and or break into four rioting parties operating as two parties.

With an endless news cycle, a continuous flow of global commerce, politicians advancing protectionist laws globally, and committed geopolitical powers looking to reset the landscape, American politics is being shaped from many directions and far beyond America's shores. Decisions made in Beijing now impact events in Brussels which in turn compels policy in Washington, DC.

The ability to manage this dynamic, globalized political environment, particularly at the intersection of business and public policy, coupled with an underlying cultural phenomenon rejecting the establishment, this new environment is more challenging for American government officials, policymakers, voters, and companies.

The pace involved in addressing political challenges has increased as well as the scale of the problems due to a globally diverse network of stakeholders. American voters have spoken and demanded a more significant share of the profits. The traditional capitalist ideal of being responsible solely to shareholders in under threat and business going forward will involve numerous stakeholders, including governments, media, bloggers, consumers, non-governmental organizations, investors, employees, and citizens. For leaders, simply put, there are a lot more people that will hold you accountable and want a say in the process.

For global business leaders to be successful going forward, they must have the dispassionate skill to understand and engage global problems, foster economic development and opportunities, and manage a globally interconnected communications marketplace all influencing and disrupting American politics like never before.

Is your business prepared to handle and understand America's next generation and rendezvous with destiny?

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and entrepreneurial startups, Marc helps international business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and politics.

Ross Rant: The gig is 9 to 5 and is the employment is formal

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Last Thursday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found less than 4 percent of workers--5.9 million persons--held contingent jobs.

Contingent jobs are those assignments which are temporary in nature.

In addition to contingent workers, the BLS survey also identified workers who have various alternative work arrangements or what many of us refer to as gigs. 

In May 2017 the BLS data found there were 10.6 million independent contractors (less than 7 percent of total employment), 2.6 million on-call workers (1.7 percent of total employment), 1.4 million temporary help agency workers (0.9 percent of total employment), and 933,000 workers provided by contract firms (0.6 percent of total employment).

So roughly 10 percent of American workers in 2017 were employed in some form of what the government calls “alternative work arrangements." 

This broad category includes Lyft drivers, freelance designers, and people employed through temporary-help agencies — essentially anyone whose primary source of work comes outside a traditional employment relationship. 

As reported by the New York Times, this is far from a boom in gig work and goes against conventional wisdom when to comes to employment.

“I think everybody’s narrative got blown up,” said Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

The largest category of alternative workers, independent contractors, are disproportionately in their mid-40s or older and familiar in sectors like construction that have not been disrupted by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They earn about as much, on average, as standard employees, and are relatively happy with their arrangements: Nearly eight in 10 say they prefer being an independent contractor to being an employee.

Outside of plumbers, roofers, and general contractors, most Americans work 9 to 5 in a formal work environment.

Don't believe the gig economy hype.

US-China technology and data war - political fear or business reality?

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The dominance of US semiconductor technology in Chinese phones makes for great angst in Beijing. It reveals Americans firms are generations ahead in semiconductor and other technologies - we are talking 20 to 30 years. In assembly factories across the China, the critical parts that go into phones, tablets, routers, vehicles, even airplanes, are often imports from advanced economies like the United States.

The Chinese government has ambitious plans to end this dependence.

“Techno-nationalism has a long and stellar history in China,” said Damien Ma, fellow and associate director of Paulson Institute think tank in Chicago. “During Mao’s time, they always wanted to have some semblance of technological self-sufficiency. And I don’t think that in itself is surprising or odd. Many countries want it.”

Many Trump administration officials call these Chinese plans “frightening” and a direct national security threat and a sound reason to impose tariffs on Chinese products. Some American academics and politicians fear China will soon enjoy global domination of many high-tech sectors at the expense of many Western industrial economies.

Does this matter?

Will it happen?

Do you think America's biggest and best businesses are sitting still and not moving forward?

Also, do you think China can execute?

Business plans mean little if you can't execute, ship, and scale.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of international politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and American politics.

10 Trends Shaping Commerce + Culture

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1. Can we meet? Americans schedule approximately 25 million meetings per day. Apps and AI that reduce the friction of finding times and places to meet will be a winner.

2. Opioids: More than 200,000 people in the US have died from overdoses involving prescription opioids over the past two decades. Drugs that can't be crushed and snorted plus reduce pain will be a winner.

3. Drinking: People in their 20s and 30s are drinking less alcohol. One in 5 millennials doesn’t drink, and 66% say that alcohol isn’t important to their social lives, according to a survey by Demos. Companies that provide beverages that also have health benefits will be a winner.

4. No phone vaca: According to a survey of 2,000 US travelers from Asurion, a mobile device insurance company, and OnePoll, a UK-based marketing research company. More than 20 percent of respondents said they checked their smartphones once per hour during their most recent vacations while about 14 percent said they checked it twice per hour. Activities and holidays that require full attention and participation will be a winner.

5. Sensible shoes: Women's sneakers sales increased by 37 percent last year, while high heels fell 11 percent. Clothes that are flexible, less rigid, and provide performance benefits will be a winner.

6. Voice is the new thumbprint: Interpol is considering using software that identifies criminals using audio. Apps and AI that provide access to information as simple as a voice command will be a winner.

7. Better, stronger, faster: Adding a bionic vest to a work uniform will augment human abilities. Performace clothing that takes the strain off the arms and backs of people working on tasks that require specialized attention and repetitive actions will be a winner.

8. The plastic straw is losing status: California, New York City, and the EU are all looking to outlaw plastic straws. Restaurants and cafes replacing straws with paper, metal or providing no straw at all will be a winner.

9. Having your smartphone nearby takes a toll on your thinking: Recent research investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. The results were striking: individuals who completed these tasks while their phones were in another room performed the best, followed by those who left their phones in their pockets. In the last place were those whose phones were on their desks. Activities and business meetings that are smartphone free will be a winner.

10. The AI arms race: Algorithms trained on mountains of Chinese data may soon be making decisions that profoundly affect the lives of people in the US. The world's wealthiest companies are powerhouse data collectors and data users. Companies that capture the full value of their data will be a winner.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications, thought leader management, and event production at the intersection of international politics, policy, and profits. Working with senior executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and American politics.