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Tag Archives: trade

tppThe TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trade Agreement) is at best, difficult to understand. There are a lot of arguments to be made on both sides of the agreement and it can be tough to wade through all of them and read the long associated text in articles for and against. So let me simplify why I am for it.

  1. Increased trade helps create more jobs, including manufacturing jobs that pay more. In our quest to reshore manufacturing, we are trying hard to rebuild manufacturing in the US and the TPP will help. One out of every five jobs in the US can be tied to international trade (about 38 million jobs).
  2. Manufacturing jobs pay better (about 18% better than other jobs). In the US, manufacturing jobs pay between $65K and $85K – squarely in the middle class. And middle class people buy houses, cars, big-screen TVs; they shop at Walmart and send their kids to college. They are the heart and soul of the United States and keep our middle-class economy going strong.
  3. 95% of consumers live outside of the US and with the middle classes growing worldwide, particularly in Asia, our US export markets can be expected to grow. Manufacturing products in America for export put US residents to work, and that is good for all of us.
  4. Trade agreements level the playing field. It’s no secret that foreign governments offer incentives and subsidies to their own manufacturers and exporters. And because the US has such an open-economy, allowing for all kinds of imports, we are seen as a big, red target market for foreign products. Trade agreements put equal rules in place so that all signatories have to play by the same rules and regulations. This will help our exporters and slow or stop unfair imports into the US. We will have legal recourse when the rules aren’t followed.
  5. Small and medium-sized exporters benefit the most because the regulatory hurdles and challenges of foreign countries are standardized or removed. In addition, we see the most reshoring activity happening in small and medium sized companies, so growth in manufacturing is in the US, plus an improved ability to export. The projections say that 98 percent of these companies will benefit from TPP.
  6. Those countries participating in TPP will be required to abide by environmental and labor conditions oversight. While this may not fix the pollution and human rights issues in all participating nations, it is a very strong step in the right direction.

If we sit back and do nothing, surely China will step in with an overriding agreement of their own and it may not be so favorable toward US manufacturers. With TPP passage, we will continue to play a leadership role in Pacific trade.

The bottom line for me is the test of rebuilding the middle class in America through manufacturing. TPP will do that by giving access to export markets for small and medium-sized manufacturers. And that is good for America.


The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Windows Project is a USAID-funded initiative to facilitate trade between the 10 member states.  This includes developing standard documents and processes across the member states of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei and Cambodia.

I was invited to lead a Business Process Design Workshop for this group in Singapore in August.  What an honor it was to participate in this event with policy makers and customs officials from the member states.  There were 2-3 delegates from each country plus representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat in attendance.

I started off the day with a lecture about Business Process Design and then introduced a toolkit to assist in developing or revising processes.  The challenge was to use examples that were relevant to import/export and logistics as well as those things that are specific to ASEAN regional trade.  As a consultant and coach, I also like to add colorful examples to drive home the points I want to make.  I chose some images such as an elephant to enrich my stories.

Lecturing and coaching in a very diverse cross-cultural meeting was one of the more difficult things I have ever done….and also one of the most rewarding and enriching.  I hope they invite me back for more.


Lately I have been reading a lot of stories in the press about how to squeeze every last drop of blood out of every supplier because, we are after all, in a recession.  During these economic times, companies are asking suppliers to take price cuts with no concessions just because they need to cut costs.

This is an unproductive approach.  I understand the need to cut costs, but this must be done in the spirit of a trade.  To preserve the long-term relationship with your supplier, you must focus on keeping the economic balance between both parties.  This can be done through trading for something of value. 

If you want your current suppliers to cut costs, then offer a free-to-you concession such as endorsing them to your colleagues in other divisions or other companies.  Or how about sponsoring them for a speaker’s slot at the next NAPM Round Table?  These things are free to you, but can be quite valuable to your vendor. 

Focus on trading for something that’s valuable to your vendor and will ease the pain of a price concession.  Let’s help each other through these tough times.