The Risks And Rewards Of International Selling

This article is contributed by Marc Anderson.

Pursuing a business in a foreign market can be a daunting task. It requires complete knowledge of the market, laws, taxes, and customs abroad. Border precautions also need to be researched in order to assure merchandise will not be detained in customs. However, if one’s goal is to pursue a small business abroad, then there is nothing that should stop you if you research the venture thoroughly. Continue reading

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Frozen Pensioners Fight On For British Fair Play

sign the petition

Unfortunately there is still no satisfactory answer for those UK State pensioners whose pensions are frozen despite the inequity of this situation.

As the BBC reported on 16 March 2010, some UK expat pensioners lost their pension freeze appeal in the European Court of Human Right in Strasbourg.   The rejection considering only the legal aspects of the case was by an 11 to 6 majority.

As might be expected, the Department for Work and Pensions welcomed the ruling and said the department’s first responsibility was to support pensioners in the UK.  Despite this clear dereliction of duty, the Department in fact treats half of all expat pensioners in exactly the same way as it does those in the UK.  Emigrate to Spain and you’ll even receive a fuel supplement even though the climate would not justify that. Only when pensioners have emigrated to the Commonwealth countries (Canada, Australia, etc) and a few others does the Department stick to the terms of an unjust and inequitable set of legal agreements.

All UK State pensioners have by law paid in during their working lives in order to receive a pension.  There are certainly no moral arguments that would support withholding from some of these pensioners what is their rightful due.

Given that morality and equity are on their side, these unfairly treated pensioners will continue the fight.  There are a considerable number of supporters both within the UK and in the rest of the world who want to see fair play.  The International Consortium of British Pensioners is dug in for a fight particularly as all the political parties wish to be the winners in the next election.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures show that every UK resident over the age of 60 costs the UK taxpayer annually £7,000 in their share of NHS costs and benefits over and above basic and additional pensions. By providing pension parity to all, at an average annual cost per capita of £1,000, there are potential savings of billions by making emigration easier and more appealing.

The UK is the only OECD country that does not provide equal pension portability rights to all of its citizens regardless of where they decide to live in their retirement. This is not a question of cost. It is a question of modernity, logic, and above all justice. People around the world continue to wonder that British standards of morality and fair play have fallen so far.

If you want to help, then join one of the groups around the world that is fighting for equity. You can also sign an online petition demanding parity for British pensioners abroad. You don’t have to be an expat or a pensioner to sign the petition.  If you are concerned about this callous treatment of its own pensioners by the UK government, then please sign on.

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Immigration or outsourcing

India is a growing powerhouse of technology. Its position in the global economy cannot be ignored. It is interesting to compare how Canada and the US are reacting to this phenomenon.

For Canada, India provides the opportunity for a new era of trade.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit Mumbai and Delhi between Nov. 15 and 18 and meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources said, a visit that is intended as a turning point. India and Canada are moving to jolt stagnant trade ties, concluding a series of trade-related deals, including opening nuclear commerce and starting the first phase toward a free-trade agreement.

On the other hand, questions are being raised on where US current policy is headed.

If any foreign policy camp best captures mainstream American opinion in 2009, it is probably neo-isolationism: a return to the inwardness of the post-World War I years, when the country refused to join the League of Nations. Even as intellectuals call for cosmopolitanism, more and more Americans are declaring themselves anti-outsourcing, anti-foreign-products, anti-immigration, anti-international-law — and pro-protectionism. According to a February 2009 Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans view foreign trade as a “threat to the economy,” and 65 percent believe the government is spending “too much” on foreign aid.

That explains why Bill Gates was unsuccessful last year in persuading Congress that it should allow US companies to hire more skilled foreign workers by increasing the number of H-1B visas. Without this change in immigration policy, the only solution would be to outsource more technological work to countries such as India.

India to is now asking the US for more H-1B visas.

India is likely to ask the United States to raise the cap on visas for skilled workers at the bilateral trade forum meeting to be held. India may also push for a special mechanism for Indian professionals travelling to the US for short-term assignments arising out of contractual obligations.

Perhaps the mood is now more receptive since a bill now introduced in the U.S. Congress would double the number of immigrant worker visas available each year under the H-1B program.

The Innovation Employment Act, introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Ariz.), late Thursday, would increase the cap in H-1B visas from 65,000 a year to 130,000 a year. In addition, there would be no cap on H-1B applications for foreign graduate students attending U.S. colleges and studying science, technology and related fields. Currently, there’s a 20,000-a-year cap on visas for graduate students in all fields.

The legislation would increase the H-1B cap to 180,000 in the years 2010 to 2015 if the 130,000 cap is reached the year before.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates had repeated his pitch:

“We provide the world’s best universities … and the students are not allowed to stay and work in the country,” Gates said Wednesday. “The fact is, [other countries’] smartest people want to come here and that’s a huge advantage to us, and in a sense, we’re turning them away.”

Undoubtedly all countries gain by a freer trade in technical abilities. It is not a forced choice between immigration and outsourcing. An appropriate balance is probably optimal.

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Brand Canada – Aw Shucks

The headlines this morning point out that Canada’s ‘brand’ second only to Australia’s. That is based on a study by Future Brand, a New York consulting firm who surveyed 2,700 business and leisure travelers to gauge which countries they had visited, which they most wanted to visit and which they would recommend to friends.

For four years now, Canada has been working on its brand with the phrase "Keep Exploring," to show that we offer more than just pretty scenery.  Perhaps it is working. Rina Plapler of Future Brand wrote. "It’s a familiar country to people. It’s familiar, it’s well-liked, it’s safe, it’s seen as family oriented."

Canada Brand International Is also trying to leverage that brand to sell more food around the world.

Canada has a positive image around the world. We’re known to be trustworthy, reliable and competent people. Our land is thought of as pristine, fresh and environmentally friendly. Our food and agriculture products are considered safe, fresh, and natural.

Clearly getting to the top spot will be tough.  The experts on Branding in Canada cite the following difficulties:

  • Canada itself, and what it means to be Canadian, are widely debated but any agreement there might be remains largely unarticulated
  • Canadian brands have not consistently leveraged "Canadian-ness" nor have they created a universal appeal for Canadian attributes and values in corporate, product and service branding
  • The Canadian character does not lend itself to bold communications

That is perhaps why another study by renowned national branding experts, the Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index, puts Canada at only the number four position with Germany as number one.

nbi country brand hexagon

Their index is based on a survey in which respondents from across 20 major developed and developing countries are asked to rate their agreement with statements about each nation. The statements cover six categories: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism and Immigration/Investment. The NBI ranking is based on the average of these six scores.

Germany is viewed as the best overall "brand, receiving the highest ranking of the 50 nations measured. The full listing of the top twenty is as follows:

1. Germany
2. France
3. United Kingdom
4. Canada
5. Japan
6. Italy
7. United States
8. Switzerland
9. Australia
10. Sweden
11. Spain
12. Netherlands
13. Norway (tie)
14. Austria (tie)
15. Denmark
16. Scotland
17. New Zealand
18. Finland
19. Ireland
20. Belgium

Clearly the time for Aw Shucks is over.  Canada needs to continue to speak out but at least we seem to be making progress.

Books that may be of interest

Ikonica:
A Field Guide to
Canada’s Brandscape
Jeanette Hanna

Brand Innovation Manifesto:
How to Build Brands,
Redefine Markets and
Defy Conventions
John Grant

The Global Brand:
How to Create and Develop
Lasting Brand Value
in the World Market
Nigel Hollis

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