International Trade Spurs Global Economic Development

Most people may know that international trade affects their
daily lives, but many have a sense of unease. They do not
understand how international commerce can enhance everyone's
life or what action to take when it does not.

Only when the public comprehends the power of international trade,
for both themselves and for others, will support begin to move
towards a pro-trade agenda.

In daily conversations, people discuss worries about inequality
or unemployment, or about immigration or the brain drain, or
about environmental damage or regional conflicts. What most
people do not understand is how international trade can be part
of the solution these problems.

International trade can create new industries and jobs for poor
marginalized communities. Freedom to trade across borders helps
expand entrepreneurial opportunities with the drive and
innovation to succeed.

Where opportunities for development are few, international trade
weighs even greater in the struggle against poverty.
InternationalTrade gives poor localites the capacity to purchase
the services they need and want.

A good example is in India, where there was a fear that
telecommunication liberalization would bring a loss in services,
specifically in poor rural areas where there are few
big-spending customers (long-distance national callers and
international and commercial clients). To their surprise,
liberalization improved telecommunication access in rural areas
and helped lower rates drastically because of increased
competition. Improved services helped both education and
community development. Development of infrastructure by new
companies resulted in creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs
in new industries for business process outsourcing.

For the full story, visit:

Import Export Business Agent Value

The following question was sent to me over the weekend, I thought it was about time for an update to the blog and this would be a good question to answer here.

Here is the inquiry:

If your job is to find buyers for your sellers (or sellers for your buyers) and you ask for commission when you set up the connection, is it reasonable to expect commission on every shipment from the point forward? After all, the two businesses are now in contact and they don't need you anymore. Surely it'd be less of a hassle (and cheaper) to deal with each other directly.

My Answer:

The question touches on a common misconception and undervaluing of one's efforts in obtaining new business for a company.

The first part asks if it is reasonable to expect a commission on every shipment from the beginning point forward.

My immediate answer is yes, it is reasonable. Consider an insurance company agent. In most instances the agent brings new business to the insurance company in the form of a new customer and in the case of life insurance, auto insurance, homeowner's insurance and just about every form of insurance, the agent continues to receive a residual commission for many years into the future (often 10 or as long as the agent is active and the policy is active).

Often in the case of insurance, an agent does little in the way of future work to maintain that policy other than to contact the insured periodically (usually to try and sell them something else), but there is a small amount of servicing most do provide, but the large amount of service comes direct from the insuranc company.

The insurance company is very appreciative to their agents and understand who butters their bread or puts the food on the CEO's table. Without that agent bringing that new business to the table, no one eats.

Getting back to the import export business, if a manufacturer or supplier did not hear from an agent/broker with new business, they would not have that business. Thus, if an agent brings $10,000 in new business to the manufacturer each year or each month, that is $10K or $120K or more they "would not" have without the work of the import export business agent/broker.

Everyone is different when it comes to assigning the value of one's services. Some, expecially owners of small to medium size businesses recongnize the value of having new business brought to their table while larger corporations are less likely to see that long term value.

In reply to the last part of the questions about having the supplier deal directly with the buyer, the assumption is correct, the more direct, the better. The value of the import export agent/broker still resolves back to the conclusion that this direct business relationship would never have happened had it not been for the work of the agent/broker.

Affixing that value is often interesting. I personally have been offered 20% commission to perform as both agent/broker in bringing new business to a company and acting as a laison for that relationship.

I countered with 10% and the company handle the one on one relationship and the residuals are paid on all business, both new and future purchases. In another similar situation, we accepted 20%, have no follow up responsibility and receive 5% on all future sales for one year (hey, we all have to be negotiable).

Still another company sends us a check about every quarter for work that we performed in 1997. It is a family run business doing over $10 million a year but they understood (and still do) the value of the new business we brought to their table.

So the bottom line is, in my opinion, one of how much does a company value new (and ongoing) business?

If you are a finder, import export business agent/broker and you are developing new business, always shop around for the best deal for both you and your potential referrals to a supplier. Remember that without you and your efforts, the manufacturer/supplier will most likely never get the new business you are bringing to their table.

Ron Coble
Coble International Marketing Services

Interview with Professor Gardner on the Ethical Mind

The Harvard Business Review of March 2007 contains an interview worth reading with Harvard Graduate School Professor of Cognition and Education Howard Gardner.
Gardner became well known by his 1983 book Frames of Mind, in which he argued that people don't have one, but multiple intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.

Likewise, Gardner now proposes to distinguish between Five Types of Cognitive Minds:
  1. The Disciplined Mind - What we gain through applying ourselves in a disciplined way in school.
  2. The Synthesizing Mind - Surveys a wide range of sources, decides what is important and is worth paying attention to.
  3. The Creating Mind - Looks for new ideas and practices, innovates, takes chances, dicovers.
  4. The Respectful Mind - The kind of open mind that tries to understand and form relationshipss with other human beings.
  5. The Ethical Mind - Broadens the respect for others (see 4) into something more abstract. Asks: "What kind of a person, worker, and citizen do I want to be?"

The Ethical Mind grows at home and in the surrounding community. Bad behavior of others can undermine it. Gardner mentions cheating MBA students as an example of this undermining, and thinks that it is more difficult for businesspeople to adhere to an ethical mind than it is for other professionals, because business is strictly not a profession, has no guild-structure, no professional model, no standards and no penalties for bad behavior. The only requirement is to make money and not run afoul of the law.

In order to stay on the right track, Gardner advises business leaders to:

  1. Believe doing so is essential for the good of the organization, especially during difficult times.
  2. Take the time to step back and reflect about the nature of their work.
  3. Undergo "positive periodic inoculations", being forced to rethink what you're doing.
  4. Use consultants, which should include a trusted advisor within the organization, the councel of someone completely outside the organization (an old friend), a genuine independent board.

See also the related website The Good Work Project, an "effort to identify individuals and institutions that exemplify good work—work that is excellent in quality, socially responsible, and meaningfulto its practitioners—and to determine how best to increase the incidence of good work in our society".