Category Archives: Brazil

On the Subject of Trade Treaties, Continued

On Tuesday, when we noted that Russian (Border) Trade Agreements are nothing new, we pointed out that it was the Six Hundred and Ninety First anniversary of the Treaty of Noteborg. Then, yesterday, when we wrote on the subject of Historical Trade Treaties, we noted that it was the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, also known as the Convention of London.

The reason for these posts were to point out a number of things:

  • Trade, Treaties, and Embargoes are nothing new,
  • Today’s trade agreements and partners are not necessarily tomorrow’s trade agreements and partners,
  • The outcomes are not always what you would expect.

Trade, Treaties, and Embargoes are nothing new

Written peace treaties, with economic ramifications, have been around for at least 4,500 years. For example, archaeologists have found clay cylinders dating from about 2,500 BC that record a treaty between the two Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma that were looted 18 miles apart. The second cylinder describes a one-time penalty of 144,000 gur of grain that Umma had to pay Lagash.

And while the Continental System was one of the most comprehensive attempts at an embargo throughout all of history, the concept of an embargo, which is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, the origin of the embargo is in the blockade, which was initially designed to cause military exhaustion and starvation, but which evolved over time to target the populace (to build internal dissension in the enemy) as well as the military. And blockades have been around for over 2,500 years. For example, back in 458 BCE, the Athenians blockaded the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf during the first Peloponnesian War.

Trading Agreements and Partners are in constant flux

A trading agreement generally only lasts as long as the agreement is beneficial to both parties. Once it is no longer beneficial, one of three things will generally happen:

  • it will be executed minimally to completion, if it ends soon,
  • it will be renegotiated, if it doesn’t end soon but both parties want to maintain a relationship, or
  • it will be broken, and one or both parties will risk penalty or retaliation because they feel it can’t be worse than the current agreement.

The outcomes of a Trade Agreement, Treaty, or Embargo are not always what you expect

In the case of an agreement, the agreement might go exactly as planned. The first party might deliver to the second party the exact quantity of goods specified for the exact duration specified in the agreement, and then stop. The agreement might work out so good for both parties that they double down and trade even more. Or, it might work out so bad that they almost immediately negotiate an end to the agreement.

In the case of a treaty, it might strengthen relations or it might weaken relations.

But in the case of an embargo, the exact opposite of what is desired can happen. It might be the case that all parties in the coalition respect the embargo and stop trading the designated goods and services to the party for which the embargo applies. And it might be the case that some parties in the coalition refuse to respect the embargo and continue to trade with the embargoed party anyway.

But even if the first case is the reality, it is not necessarily the case that the embargo will have the desired effect. It could be the case that the embargo, designed to weaken a party, actually strengthens a party. Sometimes the ancient* proverb is right and the enemy of my enemy is my friend and the embargo, instead of hurting the intended party, causes them to strengthen their trading relationship with another party and makes two parties you want weakened stronger.

And, going back to Tuesday’s post, just like the Continental System backfired on France, as it only made Britain and Russia stronger when Russia started trading with them again in 2010, any embargoes on Russia, which is no longer the Super Power they once were, is just going to backfire on any western country that hopes that the embargo is going to weaken Russia. All the embargo is going to do is strengthen Russian ties with its Middle Eastern and Asian neighbours, and China in particular. The New Silk Road will be here sooner than you think.

So what does this mean for your Supply Management Organization?

* An early expression of this concept is found in a Sanskrit treatise on statecraft dating to the fourth century BC.

Supply Chain Difficulties in Latin America

Inbound Logistics recently ran a great article on Beating the Odds in Latin America that did a good job of summarizing the changing situation in Latin America and the challenges associated with your Latin American Supply Chain. Given that it might be true that Latin America “is all about growth”, it’s a market you want to understand.

The first challenge that the article pointed out is that of logistics costs that are high compared to other regions of the world-about 15 percent of the cost of goods sold. Ouch! Like parts of India and Northern China, transportation options are few, roads are not great, rail is (almost) non-existent in many places, and ports are congested. As more investment flows into the region, the situation will improve as it did in China and India. The situation in Brazil in particular is going to improve rapidly with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games on the radar. And this isn’t the only transportation issue. The transportation industry is fragmented in Latin America, with a lot of small players and this makes it more difficult to manage, especially when handling volume spikes.

The second challenge is that of lagging productivity. Average productivity in the region has increased only 1.4% per year for the past 20 years, which is much less than in Asian economies. This is partly due to restrictive labour rules and sector specific regulations but also due to taxes and lack of investment.

The third challenge is that of supply chain expertise — there is a relative lack thereof in Latin America. Universities aren’t even offering logistics degrees yet, yet alone supply chain management degrees. Without even basic Operations Research programs, people entering the logistics field have to learn everything from how to manage a distribution centre to how to interact with customers.

The fourth challenge is that of systems. Technology systems infrastructure generally lack sophistication, and in some cases, even availability. Plus, for an average logistics carrier in the region, a TMS (Transportation Management System) is too expensive for a single company to justify. As a result, many companies end up doing a lot of manual work that is time and cost intensive.

The fifth, and final challenge, that was noted is that of security. Crime is pervasive throughout Latin America, and takes a heavy toll. The homicide rate in some Latin American cities is extremely high. For example, the crime rate in Rio de Janeiro has eight (8) times as many homicides as New York on an annual basis and eleven (11) times as many as Toronto. Plus, surface transportation is the most difficult security risk area of the supply chain in Latin America. Sincethere usually aren’t multiple routes to destinations within a country. In many cases, criminals simply block the highway and start checking trucks to see what products they like and they get away with it because the police are understaffed so they cannot patrol every road.

It’s not an easy situation, but it does appear to be a navigable one for those willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

the doctor’s Top 10 Cities for Supply Management Centres of Excellence (Where Should Your Supply Management Organization Be Located? Part V)

Yesterday, I gave you the top 10 mega-regions in which to locate your Supply Management Centre of Excellence, and indicated the major cities in each region that should top your list. For those of you keeping count, I listed 46 cities. If you’re indecisive, that’s a lot of cities to choose from! So, today, I am going to give you the doctor‘s top 10 cites for your Supply Management Centre of Excellence and his rationale!

Rank City Mega-Region Rationale
10 Dallas The Dallas Triangle The telco corridor. Oil and gas USA. Just a few hours north of Silicon Hills. Finance. More Fortune 500 headquarters than any other city in the USA. The centre-point of the largest metropolitan area in the south and the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the USA. East-West and North-South focal point of the interstate highway system — get anything, anywhere, anytime. One of the largest, and busiest, airports in the world (so you won’t miss Chicago). Sports, sports, and more sports. The world famous Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. People named JR. A great education system. Birthplace of Amy Acker, who, before taking the Whedonverse by storm, made sure that those of us who were adults with young children didn’t get the short end of the Wishbone.
9 Frankfurt The Frankfurt-Gärtringen Corridor The stock exchange, renewable energy, great transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, and German engineering! And let’s not forget Frankfurther Rindswurst. Woot! Woot!
8 Rio de Janeiro The Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo corridor It’s not the CRIB, it’s the BRIC, and it starts with Brazil. It’s the emerging South American powerhouse, which is the most visited city in the southern hemisphere (and home to Carnival), on the coast, and surrounded by a great transportation infrastructure. It is the headquarters of many state-owned companies, the centre of the oil and gas industry in Brazil, and the second largest industrial producer in the country. Foxconn, who produces all of Apple’s iPads and iPhones is down the corridor in Sao Paulo, so you know that Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro, is here to stay as a major player in global trade.
7 Paris Greater Paris La ville des lumières. La ville de l’amour. La vie en rose. Audrey Tautou. La mode, l’architecture, et la philosophie. Quoi d’autre avez-vous besoin?
6 Seoul Greater Seoul A megacity with a population over 10 Million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world, that is home to major multinational conglomerates and one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial centres. A very technologically advanced infrastructure and an openness to the Western Way of doing business. Architecture, fashion, and culture extrude from every crevice. And it’s home to the Wonder Girls of K-Pop. How can you go wrong?
5 Amsterdam Amsterdam – Brussels – Antwerp Central European location, an almost universal understanding of English, great international relations, strong fashion and tourism industries, architecture, and culture (even excluding its world famous Red Light District). Plus, lots and lots of conventions — no travelling required!
4 London London – Leeds – Chester More visits from The Doctor than any other place on earth (and the most likely city to be the first to participate in intergalactic trade). On a more current note, the LSE, the fashion scene and haberdashery shops, and the entertainment industry draw all shapes and sorts of creative talent. Plus, it gave us The Clash and Generation X. What more can you ask for?
3 Tokyo Greater Tokyo Domo arigato gozaimashita! You have to interact with a lot of people everyday. And not all of these people are polite. Why not go somewhere politeness reigns? Plus, it’s the home of Sanrio (hello kitty) and the J-Pop explosion. How can you go wrong? (Oh, and the financial clout, hi-tech infrastructure, and the wide range of cultural pursuits from ikebana and origami to shopping and whiskey, doesn’t hurt either.) And if that’s not enough, anime, manga, and gaming central! (If you think Gibson is inspired, just wait until you read Masamune Shirow!)
2 New York Boston – New York – Washington Corridor If you’re gonna be in Supply Management for the long haul, you gotta have Heart. And since New York is The Heart of Rock & Roll, it’s as good a place as any to start. Plus, the easy access to capital doesn’t hurt!
1 Los Angeles The California Coast Despite our desire to move to a paperless office, we still have to deal with a mountain of paper every day. Purchase Orders, Goods Receipts, Invoices, Import Forms, Export Forms, RFXs, etc. etc. So why not base your Supply Management organization in the home city of Wil Wheaton, the guy who made collating paper cool!

the doctor’s Top 10 Mega Regions for Supply Management COEs (Where Should Your Supply Management Organization be Located? Part IV)

Our first post in this series began the discussion of where a better-than-average Supply Management (SM) organization on the path to becoming a world-class Supply Management organization should locate its new Centre of Excellence (COE) for its new centre-led Supply Management organization. We discussed the traditional factors of customer proximity, supplier proximity, business incentives, infrastructure, and the local talent pool and ended up demonstrating that the only thing that really matters in the end is the local talent pool. (This is because it is the people, not the process or the technology, that ultimately identify and drive the results.) Our second post discussed what type of talent you were looking for and where they were likely to be found. We concluded that you were definitely restricted to major urban areas, but did not identify which particular urban areas are likely to contain the talent your organization needs. Then, in our last post, where we dived into the findings of Professor Richard Florida, as chronicled in Who’s Your City, we illustrated that your new Supply Management COE should be in one of the top 40 mega regions, and a mega region with a strong innovation focus and a lot of open minded talent. We then indicated that, if you intended to be North America based, that you should be focussing on one of the following five mega-regions: the Boston-New York-Washington (D.C.) corridor in the Northeast; Miami and southern Florida in the Southeast; the Houston, Dallas, and Austin triangle in Texas; the San Francisco Bay Area down to LA on the West Coast; and the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver corridor on the West Coast. But kind of left you hanging if you were looking for a global SM COE outside of North America.

So, today, the doctor brings you his top 10 Mega Regions for Supply Management COEs, culled from the list of the 40 Mega Regions based upon North America data, cultural analysis, and emerging or current trends.

Rank Mega-Region Economic Clout Major Cities Rationale
10 The Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo corridor 230 Billion Rio de Janeiro, São José dos Campos, Sao paulo, São Bernardo do Campo Culture, fashion, finance, and the centre of the emerging South American Economy, lead by Brazil (but followed by Colombia and Argentina).
9 The Dallas Triangle 400 Billion + Dallas, Austin, Houston Finance, Oil, easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, and a good old fashioned “don’t mess with” attitude.
8 Greater Paris 380 Billion Paris, Versailles Culture, fashion, architecture, and a strange attractor for top talent across Europe and the Americas.
7 The Greater Seoul Region 500 Billion Seoul, Incheon, Ansan, Hwaseong, Suwon The economic power-house of South Korea and an economic powerhouse of Asia with a new generation culture that, unlike their predecessors, is (openly) embracing western styles of business, fashion, and life and that is the most willing of all of the Asian nations to take risks (which are often necessary for true creativity and innovation).
6 The Frankfurt-Gärtringen Corridor 630 Billion Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Cärtringen The Frankfurt stock exchange, renewable energy, and German engineering!
5 The California Coast 1280 Billion San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego Fashion, Entertainment, Technology, a global innovation leader, and home to the largest ports on the West Coast.
4 London – Leeds – Chester 1200 Billion London, Northhampton, Leicester, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Chester, Birmingham Not only do we have (one of) the major financial, fashion, and trade centre(s) of Europe in London, but we also have the home of the Commonwealth. The UK may have been overtaken by the US in the final years of the 19th century in GDP production, but it is still in the top 20 and will always be of prominent importance.
3 Greater Tokyo 2500 Billion Tokyo The world’s largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, Greater Tokyo cannot be ignored. And while the Japanese are typically wary of uncertainty and risk, unwilling to commit to deadlines, very orderly in business, extremely respectful of hierarchy, very shy, and extremely respective of face, Tokyo is an exception. The younger generation have adopted a lot of western values, have no problem relating to the west, and are even willing to behave like outsiders in their soto groups. It’s also close to other major centres (and mega regions) in Asia.
2 Amsterdam – Brussels – Antwerp 1500 Billion Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Brussels, Antwerp The world’s fourth largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, one of the most open and advanced regions in Europe in terms of broadband penetration and clean technology, and close proximity to the UK and Germany, two European powerhouses.
1 Boston – New York – Washington Corridor 2300 Billion Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington As the world’s second largest mega-region in terms of economic clout, the centre of the North American finance and fashion industries, and the nation’s capital, there is serious clout and talent readily available here.

The BRIC is Becoming Really Investment Critical

As per this recent article over on World Trade 100, it’s time to ask if your company [is] ready to export to BRIC, it’s time to start thinking about exporting to BRIC countries because:

  • 45% of global GDP is estimated to originate from seven emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Turkey, and Indonesia
  • it is estimated 55% to 60% of the nearly one billion households that will have incomes in excess of 20,000 will be from the developing world within a decade

However, one thing that needs to be noted is that many of these countries have sub-markets, and if the products aren’t localized to the sub-markets, it could be difficult to maximize your return. For example, China has 20 to 40 different sub-markets on its own. And some of these markets are only two hours apart. For example, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are both tier-one cities in China, located in the same province and just two hours apart but there is a marked cultural difference between the two. According to a study done by McKinsey, “Guangzhou’s people mainly speak Cantonese, are mostly locally born, and like to spend time at home with family and friends. In contrast, more than 80 percent of Shenzhen’s residents are young migrants, from all across the country, who mainly speak Mandarin and spend most of their time away from their homes”.

The article has some good thoughts to keep in mind when planning to expand into China, India, Brazil, and Russia. So ask yourself, Is Your Company Ready to Export to BRIC?.