Grow Through International Expansion
Free Trade Agreements – Past Successes and Failures – What Lessons Can We Learn? #37

Free Trade Agreements – Past Successes and Failures – What Lessons Can We Learn? #37

July 15, 2019

In this series of four Grow through International Expansion podcasts and articles, our host Oliver Dowson explores all the key aspects of Free Trade Agreements, adding in the missing bits that the selective explanations from politicians and many journalists omit, stripping away false optimism and pessimism, with the aim of presenting the full and clear explanations that entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers need.

There are now more than 400 Trade Agreements in force globally, some of them relatively new but others that were negotiated decades ago. For this episode, Oliver has been reading up many of the academic studies that have been done into the impact of established “deals” – the successes and failures – to see what can be learnt.

Such lessons are useful from two points of view.

One is governmental – when it comes to negotiating new Trade Agreements, what risks need to be avoided and which opportunities grasped. You, our audience, many of you entrepreneurs, all of you consumers and taxpayers, will be more interested in the second reason for looking at the history of trade deals – which is to get a better informed understanding of what benefits can realistically be expected, and the risks that could turn a trade deal negative.

If you missed earlier episodes, you can find them on our Grow through International Expansion platform, https://growinternational.org . Our platform is independent, carries no advertising and is not for profit – we seek to deliver useful, valuable content, essential for all those who have interest in international business and global trade.

Free Trade Agreements – The World Trade Organisation, Gatt And The Other Players You Need To Know About #36

Free Trade Agreements – The World Trade Organisation, Gatt And The Other Players You Need To Know About #36

July 8, 2019

Most export-minded business people – and certainly almost all politicians - enthusiastically expect Free Trade Agreements to bring them great business growth. Others, however, fear their impact, and with the growth of populism and “My Country First” ideologies, there’s been a backlash against “globalisation”.

One common thread here is that most people, whichever side they’re on, don’t understand the whole picture. That’s hardly surprising, as it’s a much more complicated subject than it might seem. Even if what the news and politicians tell us is not “fake”, it’s certainly selective. So here at Grow through International Expansion, we’re setting out to explain everything that you should know about Trade Agreements, clearly and without any prejudices.  There’s a lot to tell, so we’ve split it across four episodes and articles.

If you’re an exporter or importer you definitely need to listen – and it’s well worthwhile if you’re in any kind of business at all. But frankly, everyone should be better informed – in the UK, with Brexit predicated on the promise of future trade deals, and in the USA and other countries where trade wars are being started or threatened because of the perception that previous “deals” have given too much away.

In this episode, we’ll look at the recent history of trade deals, cut through the jargon, look at the key principles and, after all of that, get a pretty good understanding of why FTAs are so difficult to negotiate.

If you missed Episode 1, which set out the various types of Trade Agreements, you can catch it here.

Free Trade Agreements – The Principles Explained #35

Free Trade Agreements – The Principles Explained #35

July 1, 2019

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are treaties between two or more countries that dictate the tariffs, taxes and duties imposed on imports and exports, and the regulations that are applied on quality, safety and other relevant matters.

Not all Trade Agreements are free – and even in a Free Trade Agreement, it’s not necessarily the case that all imports and exports are zero-rated. Nevertheless, the term is invariably used – and the “free” is just one of the many wrong assumptions and misunderstandings that many people (including many politicians) have.

Want to Become an Expert in Free Trade Agreements? #34

Want to Become an Expert in Free Trade Agreements? #34

June 27, 2019

Introducing the new series on international Free Trade Agreements that we'll be publishing on Grow through International Expansion over the next few weeks

Seeing across the world with Augmented Reality with Patrick Liddy | UtilityAR #33

Seeing across the world with Augmented Reality with Patrick Liddy | UtilityAR #33

June 10, 2019

Augmented Reality sounds so exciting. Put on the magic glasses and escape to another world…..

But let’s come down to earth. It’s certainly a technology that promises amazing things and, with the right application, can bring huge new benefits to business. In this podcast, our host Oliver Dowson is talking with Patrick Liddy, a founder of UtilityAR. They’ve developed a great application of Augmented Reality – or AR as it’s abbreviated – for engineering.

Patrick is an energy engineer by profession, and a true innovator. Back in 2006, he founded Innovation Energy in Dublin, one of the first electricity demand response systems in Europe. He went on to sell that to a US corporation before, more recently, starting UtilityAR.

When you have a moment, take a look at Patrick’s video that we’ve posted on our growinternational.org website. It’ll help you better understand what we’re talking about.

But right now, imagine you’re an engineer going to fix a complex piece of equipment that you’ve never worked on before. Now, think of putting on a pair of special glasses. You can see that piece of equipment through the lenses, just as you would any other glasses, but as well, you can see diagrams, text and video clips projected into a corner of your vision, and hear instructions from a colleague or instructor  - who may be thousands of miles away.

When one thinks of the cost and the huge amount of time spent not just travelling, but negotiating backstage access to sites, it’s easy to understand the advantages of being able to kit out one of the site crew with an AR headset and direct them remotely. It could achieve better results, more quickly and at much lower cost.

Even if you don’t relate to engineering, this conversation with Patrick is illuminating. There must be so many practical applications of Augmented Reality waiting to be developed.

For more details on UtilityAR, check our website https://www.growinternational.org/

 

Resolving the HR issues of Emigration – with Chris Carman #32

Resolving the HR issues of Emigration – with Chris Carman #32

June 2, 2019

For decades, Australia has been the migration destination of choice for so many people. If you’re doubtful, you only have to visit to understand why. I’ve often described it as what the UK ought to be like with added space and, of course, sunshine. Nowadays skilled migrants go there from all over the world.

In this podcast I’m talking to Chris Carman, a specialist in helping people emigrate to Australia and aiding companies transfer staff there. In doing that, over the past decade, he and his team, looking beyond Australasia, have developed services and software that helps companies successfully circumnavigate the complex world of employing overseas workers and expanding their business operations in all countries of the world.

Chris says that in his spare time he loves boxing. He says it forces him to think quickly, react appropriately and stay ahead of the game - all critical skills for business. I came out of our conversation unbruised, but much better informed.

Propelling Business Through Disruption to Success with Dan Simmons | Propelia #31

Propelling Business Through Disruption to Success with Dan Simmons | Propelia #31

May 23, 2019

In this podcast I’m talking with Dan Simmons of Propelia about how he helps company founders and CEOs navigate through new challenges – let’s call them disruptors – that conspire to upset the status quo of their business.

Over the last 20 years, Dan has helped many Start Ups and Scale Ups strategically leverage their thinking, brand and IP to disrupt new market sectors. He is a recognised Thought Leader in how disruption can be repositioned from a creative, strategic and planning point of view.

There’s always been disruption in business. It was hard scribes when Gutenberg invented the printing press around 600 years ago, and for carriage makers when Ford brought in the Model T. But everyone can agree that things have never been changing as fast as now.

But what’s that got to do with international expansion, you may ask. Well, setting up an operation abroad or simply starting to export to other countries is disruptive in itself. Businesses inevitably need to make some changes just to make the most of their new international opportunity, and it’s perhaps an ideal time to take a new, hard look at one’s entire business model.

So how do you go about that? As a true Thought Leader, Dan’s invented whole new approaches to what he terms “the Almost Now” – basically, rethinking business in an innovative and efficient way. He’s branded Propelia’s methodologies as Flightpath and Airspace, for reasons you’ll understand when you listen to our conversation.

I’ve worked with good businesses that failed to change, so simply faded and failed. I’ve met consultants who charge top dollar, but only tell you what you already know, or – worse - leave you feeling that they know a deal less than you do. This process strikes me as really different – and I believe can usefully be considered by every type of business that wants to survive and grow, regardless of their global ambitions. I’m sure you will find my conversation with Dan great food for thought.

Bonne Chance en France with Bernard Hot #30

Bonne Chance en France with Bernard Hot #30

May 12, 2019

France is such an interesting country. Politically and economically, it’s one of the strongest countries not only in Europe but the World. It’s a market of 60 million, and although a large country it has great infrastructure. It has a reputation - perhaps unparalleled - for culture and gastronomy. It has a beautiful and varied landscape. With 87 million visitors a year, there is no other country in the world visited by more tourists. Many are British, of course, because physically, it’s the nearest country for most of us. Many buy second homes or retire there. Like me, more Britons learnt French at school than any other language.

So you’d think that it would also be Britain’s major trading partner in Europe. It’s a big one, of course, but not the biggest and, in terms of trade per head of population, is quite a way down the list.

But when businesses talk about expanding to Europe, France rarely figures as a must-go-to destination. Maybe that’s the result of natural reticence born of centuries of a mutual love-hate relationship. But it’s probably more because it’s seen as a more difficult market – culturally, linguistically and in business style. Businesses are cautious, and don’t want to invest heavily in international expansion unless they’re really confident of success.

In this podcast, our host Oliver Dowson talks to Bernard Hot. Bernard works for D&A, a French business consulting firm. They’ve developed services for business development – aka sales – that could be a great way for foreign companies – British, American or from anywhere else – to build a market and establish a foothold in France quickly and economically.

Bernard is an interesting guy. He’s a business strategist with over 20 years of experience, who started his career in London in after university. He worked in the City in banking and Law and then into business consultancy, advising Telco multinationals in Africa. After that he went into education as a lecturer, and established an internationally-accredited corporate training centre with operations both in the UK and in Africa, training students in Cameroon and Senegal engineering and medicine. He’s recently returned to London, joining D&A as their UK Business Manager.

You can find more information about D&A at http://www.dabusinessdev.com/eng/index.html

Also on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/d&a-business-development/ and  https://www.linkedin.com/in/bernard-hot-8b331618/

Extinction Rebellion is an International Issue #29

Extinction Rebellion is an International Issue #29

May 3, 2019

I'm not in London this week, but I've been following the Extinction Rebellion with interest, especially having spent most of my career playing a small part in helping corporations reduce their energy consumption and improve environmental impact. There's a lot that needs to be done, but in my opinion, the priority is not in the UK but elsewhere - and that should be a clarion call for startup businesses that are developing solutions to move immediately to international expansion. I've made a video with my thoughts - what are yours?

Expanding Opportunities for Foreign and Local Companies in the Czech Republic #28

Expanding Opportunities for Foreign and Local Companies in the Czech Republic #28

April 28, 2019

One of the European countries that I visit where I’ve seen the greatest changes and most rapid development is the Czech Republic. I first went to the then Czechoslovakia in 1977, long before the fall of the Iron Curtain, so obviously you’d expect the changes since then to be massive. But I’m actually referring to just the last decade.

When I first set up a company in Prague in 2009, with a Czech colleague who remains a great friend, it was a relatively quiet city. The Czech Republic had only joined the EU in 2004, and it was still in a way searching for a business identity. The economy wasn’t very strong, but it was growing. Now, 10 years later, it’s become something of an economic powerhouse in Europe.

Most people, of course, only know Prague as a tourist destination – and it’s certainly become one of the most visited cities in Europe. Even on a Monday evening in early April I had to fight my way across the Old Town Square and the Wenceslas Bridge was a sea of people with selfie sticks. The government is doing its best to encourage tourists to visit other parts of the country.

But back to business. It may surprise you to learn that Prague figures in the Top 10 regions of the EU for GDP per capital – ahead of Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm. The unemployment rate is practically zero. However, elsewhere in the Czech Republic there are plenty of opportunities for international businesses, especially those in the industrial sector.

Although it’s right next to Austria and Germany, and a great central hub country in Europe from which to do business, costs are lower and there are a lot of good reasons to consider it for international expansion. When I was in Prague recently, I met Petr Heczko of CzechInvest, the government body promoting international trade.

Also in our meeting was Marketa Havlova, who manages support for the many exciting Czech startup companies, mostly in the IT sector. She steers a really interesting programme to help those businesses expand internationally right from the word Go.

In this podcast, I’m talking both with Petr and Marketa about a whole range of opportunities for international business in the Czech Republic.

More information about the Czech Republic and CzechInvest can be found at https://www.growinternational.org

Mentoring Startup Expansion Plans #27

Mentoring Startup Expansion Plans #27

April 13, 2019

Most ambitious small business owners who want to grow big know that they need to plan international expansion. Most times, though, they’re not sure where to go, what to do or how to do it – or they have preconceptions (and sometimes prejudices) that direct their thinking towards a specific market or country.

Entrepreneurs who seek independent advice either don’t have such preconceptions or are prepared to have them blown away. They’ve mostly already talked to the normal sources of advice, for example the government department in their country that encourages and supports international trade.

Our Host, Oliver Dowson, often gets asked how he goes about advising these people, and how his approach differs.

In this podcast, he shares a soundclip from an introductory meeting that he  recently had with Sheila, a business founder. She’s originally from the USA but now lives in the UK, where she runs a small, growing and successful business in MedTech, and is really ambitious to take it to the next level. Kindly, she agreed to having part of her first meeting with Oliver recorded for this Grow through International Expansion podcast series.

However, as we’re sure you’ll understand, she’d prefer not to give out her full identity or company name.

Exploring the Advantages of Free Trade Zones #26

Exploring the Advantages of Free Trade Zones #26

April 8, 2019

Historically, Free Trade Zones were confined to manufacturing and warehousing, but in recent years they’ve also been housing office operations, liked the shared service centres we were talking about in an earlier episode of Grow through International Expansion.

Where they exist, Free Trade Zones bring some obvious advantages to businesses setting up in another country. To start with, the “Free” means free of taxes – essentially they are zones physically within one country that treat every economic activity within them like being in a duty free shop – there’s no tax as long as everything created or manufactured is then sold abroad in another country. Some countries also allow sales within the country, though they are usually restricted in some way, typically by proportion of turnover or for a limited number of years.

But there are other advantages to Free Trade Zones too, such as being co-located in the same campus or complex as other similar businesses. That can help a lot with shared resources such as meeting rooms and catering, and helps with recruiting suitable staff too.

When our host, Oliver Dowson, was in Uruguay a couple of years ago, he was introduced to the different types of Free Trade Zones in the country, and was really impressed. Uruguay is different to other South American countries in that it’s the only one with Free Trade Zones. It’s a small country that’s used FTZs and leveraged its position and economic strength to become an attractive hub location for doing business all over Latin America.

On a recent return visit, Oliver took advantage of being there to revisit four very different Free Trade Zones. For this Grow through International Expansion podcast, he talked to the directors of each of them about the opportunities they offer and the differences between them.

The FTZs featured in this podcast are

Aguada Park - director Francisco Ravecca – www.aguadapark.com

Zonamerica - director Leandro Bonilla – www.zonamerica.com

World Trade Centre - director Ignacio Del - http://www.wtc.uy/wtc/

Parque de las Ciencias (Science Park) –General Manager Enrique Pueblo - http://www.zonafrancapdlc.com/

How FinTech is Growing in LATAM with Martin Naor | Bankingly #25

How FinTech is Growing in LATAM with Martin Naor | Bankingly #25

April 1, 2019

One of the most exciting and active sectors of business for new startups all over the world is FinTech – Financial Technology. Briefly, that’s the application of information technology to the world of finance. The term FinTech really shot to fame – or perhaps infamy - with the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in the last two or three years. But, whilst there are a lot of recent startup companies working with such cryptocurrencies, it would be a big mistake to assume that’s the whole story.

If you use a mobile app for banking or make a card payment with your mobile phone, that’s FinTech at work. If you transfer money to friends or family abroad over the internet, that’s FinTech at work too. It’s become the norm rather than the exception.

And it’s revolutionising money management in developing countries. There are now easy to use tools that can be used by people in remote villages who’ve never had access to a bank.

Some of the most successful new FinTech apps and services have been developed in countries that are themselves developing, or have reached full development but still recall the stages of development they went through to get where they are today.

There are so many new developments in so many countries that big international meetings to present and discuss the latest – FinTech summits – seem to happen almost every week of the year somewhere in the world.

One of the biggest and most important in Latin America is the annual Montevideo FinTech summit. Uruguay is a good example of a country that has itself developed over the last 20-30 years and is now really active in building new IT tools – not just FinTech – that are particularly apt for developing countries in Africa and parts of Asia.  

When our host, Oliver Dowson, was there recently, he met with Martin Naor, the President of the Uruguay FinTech Chamber. He’s also the Founder and CEO of Bankingly, where they’ve developed digital tools for financial institutions, no matter how small and no matter where they are. In our conversation that we recorded for this podcast, Martin talks with Oliver about this development, how Uruguay is leading in Latin America in development of Fintech solutions, and why international delegates should plan on attending the Montevideo FinTech forum

No Branch Should be an Island #24

No Branch Should be an Island #24

March 25, 2019

A story of discovering why cohesive corporate identity matters

Walk through the doors of any branch in the world of a major retail chain, and you might forget which country you’re in. They really are all the same. Those multinationals have spent millions on brand identity – and replicate it wherever they go.

Not so the offices and factories of other types of business. The sign over the door may be the same, but very often, that’s where it stops.

This podcast is a solo by our host, Oliver Dowson, who tells a story from his early international business life, how he experienced the “missed trick” of a failure to adopt a common corporate identity in the company he then worked for and in others that he visited, and why he thinks it’s a mistake that should be avoided. It’s an entertaining story with a moral. 

You’ll also find his article “The Elusive Prize”, on the Grow through International Expansion website at https://bit.ly/2YgJoY1

Hedging Currency To Avoid Costly Mistakes With Barry Mccarthy | Assure Hedge #23

Hedging Currency To Avoid Costly Mistakes With Barry Mccarthy | Assure Hedge #23

March 17, 2019

If your company sells abroad, you’ll probably be getting paid in a different currency to your own. And you’ll certainly be aware that there’s a lot of volatility in exchange rates. You work out the price today, when you send out the quote, but you might not get paid for months – and by then the exchange rate could be very different. Maybe in your favour, but you could easily lose out.

There’s a potential solution, currency hedging. But isn’t it something that only huge multinationals can do?

In this podcast, Oliver Dowson talks with Barry McCarthy, an expert in currency hedging who has developed solutions that even SMEs can take advantage of. If you ever need to deal in two or more currencies, you’ll find their conversation quite enlightening.