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How does Canada Customs assign Duty Rates?

 

I often get asked what the duty rate is for this item or that item - people want to know what the various duty rates are for the items they want to import.

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My first response is always "Where is it made?"  This is because no matter what item it is - if it's made in the U.S.A., Canada or Mexico - the item will be duty free regardless of what it is.  To get more technical, though - the item also has to qualify for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) - which makes these items duty free.

But, as a rule of thumb, if it's made in those 3 countries - you can be 90% sure it will not have any duty.  (There will still be taxes, of course!)

There are other countries that have trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. as well - but the NAFTA agreement covers U.S., Canada and Mexico - as long as the items are made / manufactured in those countries - they will be duty free!

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March 2006 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

March 2006 Edition

 

PORTS


Shanghai, China's commercial capital, has surpassed Singapore as the world's top cargo port, a result of the country's fast-expanding trade in goods. Total cargo handled rose 17 per cent to 443 million tonnes in 2005, some 21 million tonnes more than Singapore. However, China's largest metropolis ranked third as a container port behind leaders Hong Kong and Singapore.

EXPANSION

Home Depot is planning to curtail retail store openings by nearly half over the next five years and rely more heavily on sales to commercial and industrial customers. It expects to open 80 to 100 stores a year and will continue experimenting with smaller stores in rural and urban areas. To compensate for slower retail growth it is hoping it can quickly capture a large share of the US$410-billion professional supply and maintenance industry.

MUSIC

The market for digital music downloads via the Internet and mobile phones nearly tripled in 2005, accounting for six per cent of total record industry sales. The value of digital music downloads rose to US$1.1-billion last year, up from $380-million in 2004 as music fans downloaded 420 million single digital tracks, twenty times the number legally downloaded two year ago.

HELP WANTED

Thirty-five per cent of respondents in a recent U.S. survey of various retail categories surveyed said they plan to shop for a new job in 2006. Compensation continues to top the list of retail workers concerns with more than half saying they did not receive a raise last year and 84 per cent reported not receiving a bonus. The number who are dissatisfied with their pay increased to 60 per cent, up from 54 per cent a year previously.

PCs

Global shipments of personal computers rose 15.3 per cent in 2005. Worldwide sales of Pcs rose to 219 million units from 189 million in 2004. Shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose 17 per cent to 72 million units overtaking the U.S. which rose 7.5 per cent to 67 million units. The fastest growth in 2005 was Asia Pacific and Latin America where unit sales increased 26 per cent to 43 million and 15 million respectively.

MAGLEV

A Tokyo company has announced that the first elevators controlled by magnetic levitation will be in operation as early as 2008. Using no cables, they will employ so-called maglev technology, capable of suspending objects in midair through the combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion to control the elevators. The maglev elevators will be quieter and more comfortable and will travel at 300 metre per minute, not as fast as conventional elevators which can move up to 1010 metres a minute. This technology has already been used to develop high-speed trains

CONGESTION

The crowded skies will get more crowded this year over the U.S. with the appearance of small, speedy, cheap jets that the big airlines worry will cause traffic jams around major airports. Called "microjets" or very light jets (VLJs), they have two engines and seating capacity for five or six people. They cost half as much as the most inexpensive business jet now in service. Three thousand of the little jets are already on order.

MINING

British Coumbia has seen the province's mining industry receive the biggest investment in exploration in a decade. Investment rose last year to C$220-million, up from $29-million just four years ago. High commodity prices have contributed to this increase as have changes to government policies and tax changes. Mining provides about 25,000 jobs in the province but the industry will still need more skilled workers.

CHAMPAGNE

Worldwide shipments of champagne topped 300 million bottles in 2004, an increase of two per cent over the previous year. Britain imports more champagne than any other country.

NAFTA

Surface trade between the U.S. and its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico totalled US$64-billion last October, the highest monthly level ever recorded. From that record, trucks hauled 63 per cent of US imports and 79 per cent of exports. The $42-billion surface trade with Canada and $22-billion with Mexico were monthly records also. Trucks carried 53 per cent of imports from Canada and 82 per cent from Mexico. Michigan led all states in surface trade with Canada with $6.5-billion while Texas' surface trade with Mexico was $7.2-billion in October.

PROFIT

The Shakespeare Globe Theatre in London has turned conventional thinking about arts subsidies on its head when it disclosed recently that it had made a pre-tax profit of around $3-million every year since it opened a decade ago. The replica of an Elizabethan theatre was expected to be a loss-maker and at best a small tourist attraction when it opened.

INVENTIONS

In 1944, Silly Putty was a failed attempt to make a synthetic rubber for soldiers boots and airplane tires. It found fame and fortune when someone thought to package it in plastic eggs and sell it as a toy in 1949.

HEALTH

A new report suggests that changes in western diets and farming methods over the last 50 years have played a major role in significant rises in mental health problems. Researchers say less nutritious and imbalanced diets have led to growing rates of depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity and Alzheimer's. Pesticides have altered the body fat composition of animals farmed for meat resulting in a large reduction of key nutrients such as essential fats, vitamins and minerals being consumed by large parts of the population.

CUBA

China became Cuba's second-largest trading partner after Venezuela in 2005, but Chinese companies worry about collecting payment for their increasing sales of durable goods to the Island. China's growing influence on the Cuban economy is evident on the streets and in the shops where Chinese goods such as toys, clothes and sports equipment have replaced imports from other countries. China is selling Cuba television sets, electric cookers, rice steamers and light bulbs as well as buses and locomotives. Chinese exports to Cuba in the first 10 months of 2005 grew 95 per cent to over US$500-billion to move from fourth place to second, displacing Spain and Canada.

DOOMSDAY

Norway is planning to build a "doomsday vault" inside a mountain on an Arctic island to hold a seed bank of all known varieties of the world's crops. Located on Spitsbergen, it will be designed to withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters. that would destroy the planet's sources of food. There are currently about 1,400 seed banks around the world, but a large number are in countries that are either politically unstable or face threats from the natural environment.

TRENDS

Major U.S airlines, in search of greater efficiency, are adopting new ways of getting passengers to board their flights. For instance, United Airlines boards its window passengers first followed by those in the middle and aisle seats. Its boarding is now four to five minutes faster, saving about US$1-million annually the company claims.

SEARCHING

Top technology minds in laboratories across France and Germany are working on what they hope will be the world's most advanced multimedia search engine, with tools for translating, identifying and indexing images, sound and text. Quaero, which means "to search" in Latin, is billed as Europe's answer to Google. The technology would work with desktops, mobile devices and even televisions.

TASTE

Canadians now spend more money on green, herbal and flavoured teas than they do on the traditional black tea. Last year, sales of green tea jumped 37 per cent on top of a 31 per cent increase the year previously. It's a trend that is transforming Canada's tea business. Six years ago, black tea commanded 60 per cent of tea sales. 77 per cent of Canadians consume an average of 0.59 kilograms of tea annually ranking 25th in world among tea drinking countries. Ireland is first, followed by Britain.

COMMODITIES

Experts forecast that 2006 will not be the year when India becomes the next big driver of commodities, pushing prices even higher. India's economy is still focused primarily on services rather than commodity-intensive manufacturing that isu driving China's boom. India makes up only two per cent of the world's demand for copper, aluminum and nickel. By comparison, China consumes about 22 per cent of the world's copper, 23 per cent of its aluminum and 16 per cent of its nickel.

THEME PARKS

Attendance at North America's 50 most popular amusement parks rose 4.2 per cent in 2005, powered by strong investment in new rides, the 50th anniversary of Disneyland and a hurricane season that by-passed the theme park capital of Orlando, Florida. An estimated 176-million visitors went to North America's most popular parks. Worldwide, amusement park attendance increased 2.2 per cent to 253-million visitors in 2005.

SPACE

A survey of prime office space shows that London is well out in front at a hefty US$141.72 per square foot. Now York is $44.85, Paris $72.06 and Tokyo $111.45. Britain's commercial real estate sector is booming so much that more than $100-million in property changed hands in 2005.

CAMERAS

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years. The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day and provide 24\7 coverage of all motorways and main roads as well as towns, cities, ports and gas-stations. Thirty-five million plates will be read each day.

HAPPINESS

In a "life satisfaction index" of 100,000 people in 90 countries, Canadians (69 per cent satisfied) were tied for eighth place, with Finland and Ghana. The happiest place was Malta (74 per cent happy). The U.S. ranked 13th on the list and Britain 21st.

BROADWAY

A string of high-performing musicals and plays helped Broadway to a record year. Ticket sales were US$825-million in 2005, up from $749-million the previous year. Although ticket prices did rise in 2005, an extra 650,000 visited Broadway theatres in 2005. Prices were as high as US$110 for the best seats.

HOURS

Today, the average American puts in 36 hours more than the Japanese (1,825 versus 1,789). The hardest workers are the South Koreans with 2,394 hours a year, followed by the Greeks, Poles, Turks and Czechs. The land of leisure is Norway whose average worker spends just 1,364 on the job.

WASTE

According to the Bumper Book of Government Waste the UK government spent half a million dollars last year on a scheme to advise the elderly how to wear slippers in case they tripped downstairs.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

March 2005 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

March 2005 Edition

 

 HOUSEWARES

Americans bought $62.2-billion worth of housewares at retail in 2003. U.S. households spent an average of $578 each on housewares, a higher amount than that spent on fruits and vegetables ($563) or dairy products ($335). Household electrics led consumer housewares purchases, representing 14.7 per cent of direct-to-retail sales, while cook and bakeware categories accounted for 11.5 per cent. Next were space organisers. Consumers spending on housewares has increased an average of 4.9 per cent annually over the past five years.

HUNGER

A new FAO report says that 852 million people are hungry. While some countries, such as China and Brazil, have reduced their undernourished populations since the early 1990s, Tanzania and North Korea are among those with rising numbers of hungry people More than five million children die each year from hunger-related causes and undernutrition is costing the world $30-billion a year in direct medical costs alone.

ADVERTISING

Worldwide advertising expenditure grew by almost seven per cent in 2004 to $370-billion. As this was well above global economic growth, it shows that the industry is recovering strongly after a previous slump. The ad market was boosted in 2004 by some special factors, such as the presidential campaign in the U.S. and the Olympics. Experts predict that by 2011, China will have overtaken Britain and Germany to become the third-largest advertising market in the world after America and Japan.

BUSES

Once the Cinderella of London's public transport system, buses are now the showpiece. Since 1990, London has poured US$970-million a year into the capital's bus network. Besides money, the buses have got more road space as well: London now has 280km of bus lanes, up by a half since 2000. Buses are now more frequent, more reliable and comfier. In their share of journeys, buses have gained four percentage points from cars.

CARS

More cars were sold on the planet in 2004 than ever before as would-be motorists in countries such as China and India began to drive global auto industry growth. It is estimated that worldwide sales hit 44.45- million in 2004, about three per cent above the 2003 level. China became the fourth-largest market, passing France and Italy, and will probably be No.2--ahead of Germany and Japan and behind only the United States, by the end of the decade. However, India overtook China as the fastest-growing market, with an estimated 29 per cent jump to about 900,000 vehicles. 2.3-million vehicles were sold in China.

LOYALTY

A Boston University study reports that supermarket loyalty cards are now more pervasive than the Internet or PCs. Eighty six per cent of adult consumers have at least one, and many have several. Researchers have found that even though privacy was a concern, the majority of cardholders believe that the benefits of loyalty cards outweigh any checks on personal privacy. Seventy-six per cent of cardholders say that they use their loyalty cards almost every time they shop.

CUBA

Tourism to Cuba increased 8-per cent in 2004 compared with 2003, despite new U.S. restrictions sharply cutting back on how many Americans visit the island. In 2004, 1.9-million tourists visited Cuba. Canadians top the list of visitors, followed by Europeans, primarily from Italy, France Germany and Spain. Tourism now represents 41 per cent of Cuba's foreign exchange income, a leap from just four per cent in 1990.

WEATHER

New figures reveal that 2004 was the world's fourth warmest year since records began in 1861. In 2004, the global mean surface temperature was 14C, which is 0.44C above the average reading for the years 1961 to 1990. For the first time, grass has become established in Antarctica, showing the continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years. Plants are now blooming an average of 5.2 days earlier per decade.

SECURITY

The increasingly sensitive radiation detectors at many airports may now be set off by passengers who have had certain medical procedures. The thallium used in cardiac exams stays in the body for up to 30 days and iodine, which treats thyroid problems, has triggered alarms up to 95 days later.

LAWS

On the first day of 2005, China enacted 88 new laws that cover a wide range of areas including foreign trade, taxation, and advertising standards. As part of China's accession to the World Trade Organization, seven laws and regulations took effect that list some restrictions on auto imports and foreign participation in gasoline sales, auctions and insurance.

ROBOTICS

British roboticists are developing a robot that feeds on flies. Eco Bot II will use special cells to break down sugars in the flies and generate electricity.

TRADE

Canada and the European Union will begin negotiating a deal this year to boost two-way trade and investment. The agreement is not a traditional free-trade deal in that it doesn't seek to chop tariffs on industrial goods or tackle non-tariff barriers in farm products trade such as subsidies. Both Canada and the EU say that they believe that these matters are best left to multi-country negotiations at the WTO. Instead, the deal will try and cut red tape and regulatory barriers. The 25-member EU is Canada's second largest trading partner after the U.S., while Canada ranks ninth among EU trading partners.

MORE TRADE

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently signed a pact with China to cut tariffs on a number of goods by 2010. ASEAN also aims to start trade talks with Japan next month. Six leading ASEAN countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, agreed to drop tariffs on electronics and ten other areas by 2007.

CRANBERRIES

This fruit is one of only three fruits native to North America. The fastest part of today's cranberry market is for cranberries that do not taste like cranberries Flavoured fruit pieces (FFPS to the trade) taste like orange, cherry, raspberry or any number of other fruits. Why make them taste like another fruit? Mainly because it is a durable little fruit. FFPS have a shelf-life of two years and keep a chewy texture when baked. Ocean Spray, a co-operative owned by 800 growers, sold about US$1.2-billion worth of cranberries and cranberry products worldwide in 2003.

WORTH

In the past three years, the total value of residential property in developed economies has increased by an estimated US$20-trillion to $over US$60-trillion. The increase is partially explained by the decline in the U.S. dollar, however, it is still double the US$10-trillion by which global share values climbed in the three years to 1999. Top of the league is South Africa where prices surged by 35-per cent, ahead of Hong Kong at 31-per cent.

SPACE

Experts predict that by 2030, the United States will require 44 per cent more total built space than existed in 2000 to accommodate population and job growth projections.

RUST

A cloud of deadly spores looms over the American south which can destroy millions of acres of crops. Asian soyabean rust, a lethal fungus that attacks soyabean plants, landed recently in the U.S. Scientists believe that one or more of the several recent hurricanes carried the spores from South America to the states on the Gulf of Mexico. Once there, the spores travelled more than 300 miles a day infecting nine states in just over a month. The disease could ruin next year's harvest.

SIZE

Women's pants labelled at size 8 can be anywhere from a size 4 to 14 depending on the manufacturer and price according to a North Texas School of Marketing study. A team of researchers measured 1,011 pairs of pants in different sizes and from different manufacturers. Some of the findings: size 4 ranged from 23 inches to 31.5 inches; size 10 ranged from 27 to 34 inches; size 14 ranged from just over 30 inches (smaller than some manufacturers' size 4) to 38 inches. They also discovered that pricey pants were consistently cut fuller, allowing them to fit a larger woman than less-expensive offerings.

MOOSE

The city of Anchorage, Alaska (population 271,000) has about 300 resident moose year-round. In the winter they are joined by hundreds more. Last winter, some 200 moose were killed in collisions around the city. They feed along median strips and shoulders and lick salt off the pavement.

HOLLYWOOD

The film industry is following the, lead of the music business by stepping up legal action against internet film pirates. An industry body launched legal action against over 100 middlemen in the U.S. and Europe who facilitate the downloading of pirated blockbuster movies.

SUPERMARKETS

2005 represents the 75th anniversary of the supermarket retail format which has been described as "a resilient and ever-changing enterprise whose contribution to communities worldwide is immeasurable." Historians agree that the first actual supermarket was a King Kullen store, opened August 1930 in Jamaica, N.Y. The store, comparable to today's no-frills warehouse outlets, sold more than 1,000 products. Key to the early success of the supermarket were the shopping cart, introduced in 1937; the car and free parking.

WATER

Paris is launching an advertising campaign to get people to switch back to tap water from bottled water. In 20 year, the consumption of bottled water has doubled to 130 litres a year per person. It is known that elderly people have a great need for calcium to fight osteoporosis. Tap water can provide this naturally. It is estimated that empty water bottles amount to 20,000 tonnes each year, the equivalent to two Eiffel towers.

JUICE

Brazil's frozen orange juice (FCOJ) exports totalled 408,040 in July to October 2004, the first 4 months of the crop year. This was down three per cent on the 495,380 tonnes in the same period in 2003. The EU was the main market for Brazilian FCOJ over the period at 360,400 tonnes, followed by NAFTA at 58,500 tonnes. The Far East received 37,200 tonnes.

NAFTA

A University of Toronto study reports that fewer U.S.-based multinational companies are investing in Canada since it formed the NAFTA with the U.S. and Mexico in 1994. The reason given is that U.S. multinationals no longer need to invest in Canada to access its markets. Researchers have found that Canada only receives 10 per cent of U.S. foreign investment while Europe receives more than half. 40 year ago, Canada and Europe received that same amount of U.S. investment.

ENVELOPES

The first envelopes with gummed flaps were produced in 1844 in Britain. They were not immediately popular because it was thought to be a serious insult to send a person's saliva to someone else.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

November 2004 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

November 2004 Edition

 


CARS

 
The number of cars on China's roads is set to rise sevenfold to 140 million by 2020 the government has forecast. The total number of cars will eventually peak at 250 million, or 150 cars for every 1,000 people. That compares with 500 cars per 1,000 people in Western Europe and close to 900 in the U.S. The projected surge in car sales reflects rapidly rising income levels fuelled by China's economic boom. Foreign car firms have pledged to spend a total of US$13-billion in China by the end of the decade.

PHONES

Cellphones have bitten into hotel earnings according to one hotel consulting group. Profits from in-room phones have dropped 76 per cent in four years, sliding from US$644 an available room in 2000 to US$152 last year. The downturn accounted for 10 percentage of the hotel industry's 36 per cent decline in profits during the same period. Last year it was reported that phone jamming equipment was being sold to hotels in Britain as a tool for increasing revenue from in-room phones.

BEANS

Canada is in a 10th place tie with Mexico for baked-bean eating. The world ranking of estimated per capita consumption: Ireland, 5.6 kilograms annually; Britain, 4.8 kilograms and New Zealand 2.3 kilograms. The United States is 4th at 2.0 kilograms. Canada and Mexico consume 1.2 kilograms per capita annually.

PIGEONS

In Britain, owners of racing pigeons will try a new tactic to deal with losses of their birds to a resurgent population of peregrines and sparrow hawks. They will spray their slower birds with a foul-tasting chemical or give the birds a dietary supplement that has the same effect. It is hoped that after a few bad meals the raptors will develop an aversion to pigeons. Some pigeon fanciers have paid more than $230,000 for stud birds and commonly pay $2,300 for the birds they will race.

FUNGI

It has been estimated that there are 1.5 million species of fungi existing on earth. Of these, only about 10 to 15 of these have been discovered and named. By contrast, an estimated 90 per cent of the world's 300,000 species of flowering plants have already been described. From 1980 to 1999, an average of 1,100 new species of fungi were found and described each year. The fungus kingdom has made many significant contributions to 20th-century medicine, including penicillin.

TEXTILES

The U.S. textile industry plans to petition the U.S. Administration to block the flood of Chinese imports expected next year after global quotas on textiles and apparel are lifted. Leaders of the textile industry warn that the U.S. could lose up to 600,000 jobs if action is not taken. The request is unusual because petitions normally seek to limit imports after they have damaged a domestic industry. American textile groups have joined dozens of other industry groups from 590 countries in asking the WTO to vote on slowing the elimination of quotas.

CAVIAR

The United Nations agency that controls trade in endangered species has halted exports of caviar until the countries where it is produced comply with an agreement to protect sturgeon. The main exporting countries which border the Caspian Sea have failed to provide an accurate measurement of how much sturgeon is illegally harvested. International trade in the world's 20 or so varieties of surgeon has been regulated by the UN since 1998 after a drastic rise in poaching.

TECHNOLOGY

As with many businesses, wine stores are turning to computers for help. An increasing number are installing interactive touch screens to dispense information about wines, wine and food parings, grape varieties, distilled spirits and more. Some allow customers to find wines by country, grape variety, price and other criteria. Each unit has a bar code reader and built-in printer. Buyers curious about wines can scan in the code, read the text on the screen and print it.

IRELAND

A new survey show that Ireland's population now totals more than four million--its highest level in 130 years--with this rise reflecting immigration stemming from the country's economic boom. In most countries a relatively small population growth might go unnoticed but Irish history with its long periods of population decline and mass emigration, means the latest survey is significant. This is the first time the population has exceeded four million since 1871. Thirty years before that, in the 1840s, the population stood at double that figure.

SPACE

The European Space Agency's chief scientist has said there should be a Noah's Ark on the Moon, in case the Earth is destroyed by an asteroid or nuclear holocaust. The ark would be a repository for the DNA of every single plant or animal. The scientists are concerned that if there is ever a catastrophe and the Earth was destroyed, there would be nothing left of the rich diversity of life on the planet.

STOWAWAYS

The number of people found hiding in compartments, cargo holds and containers fell to 481 last year, a 16 per cent reduction from the previous year. The key stowaway route in 2003 was the journey from West Africa to Europe.

NAFTA

Since 1993 when the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed, total trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico more than doubled from US$306-billion to US$621-billion. U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico grew from US$142-billion to US$263-billion. Mexican exports to the U.S. grew 242 per cent. U.S. manufacturing wages rose 14.4 per cent in the 10 years after NAFTA passed, more than double the 6.5 per cent increase in the 10 years preceding NAFTA.

COUPONS

The Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) Coupon Council reports that manufacturers in the U.S. offered more than US$250-billion in coupons in 2003 resulting in $3-billion in consumer savings. The council also found that retailers are increasingly turning to coupon promotions to help attract, retain and reward loyal shoppers--in fact, in 2003, 46 per cent of retailers reported offering some form of bonus coupon program. The average face value of manufacturers' coupons increased 4.9 per cent to 85 cents in 2003.

STORES

Fast-growing Family Dollar Stores opened 109 discount stores in the U.S during August 2004, bringing its total to 5,466. During its last fiscal year, the chain opened 500 stores, closed 61 for a net addition of 439 stores. The chain runs stores in 44 states and plans to open another 500 stores in its next fiscal year.

POST

Britains Royal Mail has missed all of its performance targets in the first quarter of its financial year. The beleaguered state-owned deliveries service had a raft of bad publicity earlier in the year when it was revealed it paid more than US$100-million in compensation for late deliveries made last year. New figures show that just 88.3 per cent of first class letters were delivered on time against a target of 92.5 per cent.

PEARLS

There are about ten pearl farms in the Deching region of China, one of the country's most traditional industries which began in the thirteenth century. China is now the largest fresh water pearl producer in the world. Almost a thousand tonnes of pearls are produced each year by about 300,000 workers around China. In some factories, only about 10 per cent of all pearls produced are used in jewellery, the rest are crushed and made into medicine and make up. Crushed pearls are used in skin creams as pale women in Japan are considered beautiful.

WATER

A group of Texas irrigators and farmers is seeking $500-million from Mexico for crop-loss and other damages caused by that country's failure to comply with a water-sharing treaty. The 1944 treaty requires Mexico to send the U.S. an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water annually from six Rio Grande tributaries. The U.S. in return must send Mexico 1.5-million acre-feet from the Colorado River. An acre-foot is 1,234 litres enough to flood one acre a foot deep.

CLIMATE

Scientists believe a 50-million-year record of the Earth's climate lies in an underwater mountain chain in the ice-clogged waters near the North Pole. An international team is drilling three 500 metre holes deep into the Arctic Ocean ridge for the first time in a complex effort to extract sediment that will provide a climatic history, and may help to explain how humans are changing the planet. Glaciers, the sun and Earth's rotation and orbit are considered the other main factors affecting climate.

ART

Over the past century, an estimated US$5-billion worth of art has been stolen, the Wall Street Journal estimates. Most often, high-profile works of art are never recovered. According to the Art Loss Register, which tracks stolen art worldwide, among the missing are 467 works by Pablo Picasso and 289 by Marc Chagall. The Register says it adds about 10,000 items a year. Of art thefts, 54 per cent are from private homes compared with 12 per cent from museums.

FISHING

Recreational anglers may be responsible for landing nearly 25 per cent of over-fished salt water species caught off U.S. coasts a new study suggests. Researchers say that the impact of 10 million U.S. recreational anglers is far more significant than previously thought. Across the country, recreational and commercial fishers have been pointing fingers for decades over which group is responsible for dwindling stocks of sports fish.

SOURCING

More than half of U.S. consumers (54 per cent) choose supermarkets as their preferred point of purchase for fresh fruit and vegetables during peak growing seasons in their region. Thirty-seven per cent prefer to buy from local farm stands and vegetable stores and believe produce from these stores are fresher. The majority of those buying at supermarkets do so for reasons of convenience. Taste and consistent quality play a key role in determining where consumers shop.

DISCS

A group of record labels has announced plans to introduce a new disc format later this year that combines CD and DVD technology. The DualDisc product will have a full album on the CD side of the disc and the DVD side will include a range of features such as music videos, interviews, photo galleries, concert footage and lyrics. The announcement comes as traditional music sales are under pressure from on-line file swapping and legal downloads from the Internet.

CAPACITY

According to projections of Russia's Ministry of Industry and Energy, airfreight volumes in the country will rise by 10 to 12 per cent in the next few years. There are fears for lack of capacity by 2006 to 2008 due to the condition of the aircraft fleet. Two-thirds of the commercial aircraft stem from the Soviet era.

TASTE

The Far Eastern Economic Review reports that Raw Horseflesh Ice Cream is on sale in Japan. Other new flavours available from Ice Cream City in Tokyo include: goat, whale, shark's fin noodle, abalone, seaweed, chicken, garlic and lettuce-potato.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

 

May 2004 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

May 2004 Edition

 


TRADE

 
Global trade grew by 4.5 per cent in 2003 and could expand by up to 7.5 per cent this year according to the World Trade Organization. Trade grew rapidly in the second half of 2003 after the effects of the war in Iraq and SARS wore off and the results of the recovering world economy began to show. The WTO called China's performance "remarkable"---imports grew by 40 per cent and exports by 35 per cent.

NAFTA

Last year, the U.S. exported US$8-billion in agricultural products to Mexico. This is now the third largest market for U.S. agricultural products. Mexico, is the United States' second-largest trading partner. About 89 per cent of Mexico's exports go to the U.S. and 62 per cent of Mexico's imported goods come from the U.S. Trade between the two countries has grown significantly in the past decade from US$81-billion in 1993 to US$235-billion in 2003, an 11 per cent increase each year.

WHEAT

The World Trade Organization has upheld the legality of the Canadian Wheat Board in a ruling that Ottawa feels undermines U.S. attempts to dismantle Canada's state-owned grain-trading enterprise. The U.S. had complained that the Board undercut foreign rival pricing to sell grain. However, the WTO has called on Ottawa to reform grain-handling and transportation rules.

TRANSPORT

A three-wheeled car that measures just one metre across and carries two people is being touted as the answer to city traffic problems in Europe. The Clever (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport) car has been developed by nine European countries and is funded by the EU. If produced, the 50mph could sell after 2005 for US$15,000. The novel tilting vehicle aims to combine the safety of a traditional car with the flexibility of a motorbike

WALKER

Canada has become the first country to ban the sale, resale, advertising and importation of baby walkers. They have long been viewed as highly dangerous with children falling down flights of stairs. There has been a voluntary industry ban on the items since 1989 but Health Canada says that in recent years, increasing numbers have found their way onto the Canadian market.

SOYBEANS

A domestic shortage in the U.S. has pushed soybean prices above $10 a bushel, twice the level of only seven months ago. The effects are already being felt among food producers and at the grocery store cash register. Soybeans are an essential ingredient in thousands of products from cooking oil to pet food. The shortage is blamed on dry weather in the U.S. reducing the harvest by 15 per cent in 2003 and China launching a record buying spree of U.S. soybeans which it needs for feeding livestock for its population's growing demand for meat.

TASTE

A new vodka flavoured ice cream launched in Australia has provoked an outcry from groups worried it will give children a taste for alcohol. A few months ago, an Australian biscuit-maker introduced Tia Marie and Kahlua flavoured cookies

SOCKS

Datang is a city in China that turns out eight billion pairs of socks each year from 8,000 factories, one-third of all socks sold worldwide.

INTERNET

Canada's internet pharmacy industry more than doubled its sales to the U.S. last year. Sales were worth around C$556-million for wholesalers in 2003, up from C$251-million in 2002. A cluster of on-line retailers in Manitoba account for almost half of the cross-border trade. The top pharmaceuticals sold on-line to the U.S. are cholesterol reducers and heart medications, followed by heartburn and ulcer medications.

TRAFFIC

Road traffic crashes of all sorts are an enormous, largely overlooked, world health problem, second only to childhood infections and AIDS as the killers of people between the ages of 5 and 30 according to the World Health Organization. Each year, about 1.2 million drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians of all ages are killed, that is about one in every 50 deaths worldwide about the same as the mortality from malaria.

PLAGIARISM

White-collar copycats may be less inclined to pilfer the well-chosen words of others now that software designed to ferret out plagiarism is moving out of academia and into the business world. For years, educators at colleges and universities have monitored plagiarism. Now, tainted by scandals or the Internet's copy-enabling power, a growing number of newspapers, law firms and other businesses are using data-sifting tools that can cross-check billions of digital documents and swiftly recognize patterns in just seconds.

SERVICE

On April 6, 1925, a movie was used for the first time as in-flight entertainment. The black-and-white silent, The Lost World, was screened in a converted Handley-Page bomber that flew from London to Paris. The carrier, Imperial Airways, had previously begun offering in-flight meals (box lunches) in 1919.

TRENDS

Chinese studies are booming throughout Asia. At the largest chain of private language schools in Japan, enrolment in Chinese in 2003 was double that in 2002--displacing French as the second most popular language after English.

SUSHI

Because of health concerns and growing demand, 50 to 60 per cent of sushi in the United States is frozen at some point in its journey from the ocean. In fact, some sushi may have been frozen for as long as two years. Most diners would be surprised to learn that if sushi has not been frozen, it is illegal to serve it in the U.S. Food and Drug regulations stipulate that all fish to be eaten raw, except for Tuna,--whether as sushi, sashimi, seviche or tartare--must be frozen first to kill parasites.

TAXES

More than 60 per cent of U.S. corporations didn't pay any federal taxes for 1996 through 2000, years when the economy boomed and corporate profits soared. Corporate tax receipts have shrunk markedly as a share of overall revenue in recent years, and were particularly depressed when the economy soured. By 2003, they had fallen to just 7.4 per cent of overall federal receipts, the lowest rate since 1983, and the second lowest since 1934.

RUSTLING

The late diet guru Dr. Robert Atkins has been blamed for many food calamities--including the slump of the potato and bakery industries. Now, San Joaquin Valley police in California say that the popularity of the high-protein diet is to blame for a spate of cattle rustling in California. Beef prices have increased in recent months as the number of Americans using diets such as the Atkins diet has increased. In turn this has led to a new generation of rustlers who are stealing unbranded cattle and selling them on the black market.

GARBAGE

Rubbish bins in Berlin will soon talk and sing to people who deposit their waste. In an attempt by the German capital to encourage citizens to keep it tidy, a number of Berlin's 20,0000 bins are to be fitted with solar cell devices which will react with a "thank you" when something is thrown into them. The bins' voices will be replaced with flashing green lights to avoid scaring night-time rubbish disposers. City officials say the volume of litter on the streets has risen in line with the growth in poverty.

OFFSHORING

An industry-sponsored study has concluded that U.S. companies sending computer systems work abroad yielded higher productivity that actually boosted domestic employment by 90,000 across the economy last year. The study was conducted for a coalition of business groups working to combat a growing backlash against the loss of U.S. jobs.

WEEDS

Exotic weeds are choking Australia's prized farmland inch by inch and costing the nation US$3.5-billion a year in lost agricultural output. The sprawling plants, most of which were introduced as ornamental garden species, have encroached on huge areas of farming land. The economic impact of introduced weeds amounts to 0.5 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product.

MAGAZINES

Canada's magazines showed an overall increase in readership last year, with the best growth in "niche" titles that cater to readers' nesting instincts. Average readership rose about five per cent for English-language publications and seven per cent for French-language publications. Reader's Digest remained Canada's most read magazine with readership of 7.7 million, followed by Canadian Living and Chatelaine.

CHEAP

A cheap handheld computer designed by Indian scientists has been launched after a three-year delay. It was developed at the Indian Institute of Science as a way of taking the internet revolution to India's rural masses. Only nine in every 1,000 Indians own a computer, because the machines are just too expensive. The Simputer was designed to provide cheap and accessible computing on the go. The basic model costs around US$240. It is hoped to sell 50,000 units in the first year.

POPULATION

Germany saw a net drop of 143,000 people in 2003 when the number of deaths rose while the number of births dropped. Deaths were 858,000 while births were 715,000. There were also fewer marriages with 383,000 last year compared with 388,000 in 2002. At the end of 2002, Germany's population was 82.5 million. Immigration advocates say that Germany will have to open its doors more to foreigners of which there are now 7.3 million in Germany.

UGANDA

Where many flower growers lost their farms in Uganda during the 1990s, new ones are now profiting from the sale of sweetheart roses. The original flower growers were badly advised when they were told to grow large roses like the ones in Kenya. Because of the climatic differences between the two countries, they failed to grow as big in Uganda. However, the smaller sweetheart roses are thriving in Uganda and the country expects to earn US$30-million this year in flower exports.

CONTAINERS

In a wasteland of old wharves, warehouses and burnt-out buildings in London's docklands, a strange new phenomenon has arisen which is attracting the attention of architects and regeneration experts from around the world. It is called Container City and comprises old sea containers which provide cheap studio space for artists and small businesses. Now, Container City II has been added, 33 containers painted bright red, yellow and orange and stacked asymmetrically. With their balconies and porthole windows, they are being rented for up to $900 a month, including service charges, to tenants who are happy to live in them.

SCALE

Violinists in a German orchestra are suing for a pay rise on the grounds that they play many more notes per concert than their colleagues. German musicians earn basic monthly wages that are about twice that of their British counterparts.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

August 2003 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

August 2003 Edition

 

BISON

It is estimated that when conservation began, there were as few as 800 bison, or buffalo, in North America, now there are close to half a million. About 200,000 of those animals exist on farms and ranches in Canada. About 1,000 ranchers in Alberta are raising bison on some or all of their land. Collectively they own 95,000 animals and last year processed 15,544 head with a wholesale value of C$20-million. Bison contains under two per cent fat, compared with pork (around 5 per cent) and beef (nearly 11 per cent fat).

TECHNOLOGY

According to a new study, food processing plants that adopted high technology by the end of the 1990s generally enjoyed a far superior growth in productivity than the companies that did not. The study also found a strong link between growth in productivity and market share. Plants that adopted high technology enjoyed higher productivity and, as a result, recorded gains in market share throughout the decade. Food processing is Canada's third largest manufacturing industry, consisting of more than 3,000 establishments. In 1998, the industry employed nearly 230,000 people and boasted output of C$15-billion.

RESEARCH

Canadian industry spent $712 million on research and development in biotechnology in 2000, up 8.0 per cent from 1999, according to the Survey on Research and Development in Canadian Industry.

BUSES

According to Statistics Canada, the urban bus industry earned revenues of $4.3 billion in 2001. The 1.5 billion passenger trips made on urban transit buses in 2001 accounted for just under half of the industry's total annual revenues. Bus companies generated about $70 million by providing services to people with disabilities and seniors. This is the first time data has been available for para transit services. In 2001, the industry employed about 90,000 people. The average salary for all employees regardless of the type of bus company was $36,000.

SALAMI

The Foods Standards Agency of Great Britain is launching an investigation into salami, chorizo, pastrami and other exotic sausages after it was found that one in eight salamis tested contained undeclared horse or donkey meat. Two were from Belgium and one from Italy. The investigation will look at sausages bought in supermarkets, delicatessens and through catering suppliers.

CORKS

A group of wine experts recently announced that screw-cap bottles are superior to their cork-stoppered counterparts. In a blind taste test, they concluded that screw-tops are better because they are more accessible, can easily be resealed and eliminate any possibility of cork taint which imparts musty, mouldy characteristics to the wine.

SICK-TIME

Canadians lost more than 92 million work days last year due to illness, injury and personal reasons with each full-time employee missing an average of nine days in 2002, up a full day from eight days in 2001. Full-time public servants booked off an average of 11.7 days in 2002, compared with an average of 8.2 days in the private sector. Employees in the professional, scientific and technical fields recorded the lowest time-lost averages--six days in 2002--and that managers only booked off an average of 5.7 days last year.

ENERGY

Russia's largest oil producer has signed two landmark long-term agreements to supply China with US$150-billion of oil over many years, a move that promises to accelerate Russia's incursion into China's energy market. The deal will require the company to begin shipping 20 million tons of oil a year, or 400,000 barrels a day by pipeline in 2005, In 2010, volumes jump to 600,000 barrels daily until 2030. Another six million tons of crude will be transported by rail.

GREEN

Ten of the world's leading banks acceded to the demands of protesters and agreed to abide by the World Bank's voluntary code of environmental standards when making loans for infrastructure projects, particularly in poor countries. The banks will follow strict rules for lending on dams, oil pipelines and the like, that threaten nature or locals. Inevitably, some green groups complained that the rules are too soft.

NAFTA

In a recent Canadian poll, 70 per cent of respondents said they support NAFTA, though a bare majority, 51 per cent, believe the deal has benefited Canada. Regionally, British Columbians, who have been the hardest hit by U.S. trade action against softwood lumber, are the least supportive of the NAFTA. Fifty-six per cent of B.C. residents support the deal, while thirty-seven per cent oppose it.

GAMES

According to Jupiter Research, American households earning less than $35,000 a year spend 50 per cent more time playing video games than those with incomes above $74.000.

SHOPPING

A full-time professional mystery shopper can earn up to US$40,000 a year. Professional mystery shopping, which tests a company's operations from the consumer's point of view, is a growth industry. There are 750 mystery shopping/market research firms in the U.S.

DRUGS

The state of Florida has moved to clamp down on the growth of small shops selling cheaper prescription drugs from Canada by declaring them illegal pharmacies. The move by the Florida Department of Health marks the latest attempt by U.S. regulators to stop the flow of Canadian drugs into the U.S. where popular prescription drugs can cost as much as 50 per cent more than north of the border.

JOBS

A powerful U.S. union is quietly pushing for tough new legislation that could have a devastating effect on Canada's growing call centre industry. The Communications Workers Union is calling on all 50 states to pass a bill aimed at halting the flow of jobs to countries outside the U.S. Under the proposed bill, workers in outside call centres would have to identify what country they are located in and then offer to redirect them to a U.S. call centre. It is possible that this could violate NAFTA and WTO agreements.

HOURS

German consumers have at last been granted the privilege of shopping after four o'clock on Saturday afternoon, after trading laws introduced in the 1950s to protect small retailers were relaxed. Until 1996, shops were forced to shut at 2pm. Predictably, trade unions and churches complained. Main shopping districts reported that sales were up by 40 per cent on the first day after the law changed.

TEA

Used to be that a cup of tea was a potent symbol of Britishness. Now, herbal alternatives such as echinacea and raspberry are usurping the traditional brew. Five years ago Britons bought 127-million kilos of traditional tea bags a year, this has now dropped to 114-million kilos, allowing Turkey to overtake Britain as the most enthusiastic consumers. Herbal teas are largely responsible for the downfall of the normal cup of tea with sales of fruit infusions up 50 per cent over the last five years.

HEALTH

Obesity is costing not only American lives, but dollars too. A study tallies that US$93-billion per year goes to treat health problems of people who are overweight. Overall, spending attributed to excessive weight made up nine per cent of all medical spending in 1998.

LANGUAGE

Linguists estimate that there are 6,809 "living" languages in the world today, but 90 per cent of them are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people, and some languages are even rarer. 46 are known to have just one native speaker, and there are 357 languages with under 50 speakers. Over the past 500 years, about 4.5 per cent of the total languages have disappeared. Colonisation has had the strongest influence. Of the 176 languages spoken by the tribes of North America 52 have become extinct since 1600. Of the 235 languages spoken by Aboriginal Australians, 31 have disappeared.

CHINA

To help its suffering tourism industry, China will open its doors early to foreign travel agents. China's tourism industry has been devastated by the outbreak of SARS. The government will lift its longstanding ban on foreign-owned or controlled travel agencies setting up business in China. The opening up of China's tourism industry was originally expected to come into effect at the beginning of 2007 as part of its entry into the WTO.

FLOWERS

American flower retailers are increasingly turning to supermarkets as they seek to grow their business. Between 1995 and 2000 there was a 25 per cent increase in flower sales and the numbers have sprouted an increase in flower production. With increased production and new technologies, there is an abundance in supply. As a result, large retailers and supermarkets have been expanding their floral sections and moving them to more visible parts of the stores. About 80 per cent of new supermarket construction includes extensive floral departments.

ANTARCTIC

Growing numbers of tourists arriving to practise adventure sports, look at wildlife and follow in the footsteps of Scott, Shackleton and other explorers, are posing an ecological threat to the Antarctic. With the number of tourists doubling every three to four years--17,000 arrived last summer, members of the Antarctic Treaty system want their number legally curbed to avoid an ecological disaster. 5,000 tourists visited annually in the early 1990s.

CROPS

A Canadian farm survey indicates that farmers intend to put slightly less acreage into fruit production this year, however, the survey also shows that planting intentions for vegetables have increased, particularly for two major crops, sweet corn and carrots. Growers intend to cultivate 244,000 acres in fruit, down slightly from 2002. Vegetable growers expect to plant 291,000 acres in various crops, a five per cent increase

INTERNET

Forrester Research forecasts that US$6.8-trillion will be spent on global e-commerce by 2004 and that global Internet commerce sales will hit an estimated $3.2-trillion in 2003, equal to five per cent of all global sales. 4-million U.S households use the Internet to shop online, generating revenues of $108-billion. Over 36.1-million domains are registered worldwide.

PACKAGING

Wild Oats Markets Inc. has become the first grocery store in the U.S. to roll out a new type of "green" packaging that looks like plastic but turns into compost after disposal. the clear packaging is made from corn rather than petroleum. Although the product costs 40 to 50 per cent more than plastic packaging, Wild Oats is not passing the extra cost onto the customer. It expects the price will come down as the product becomes more widespread.

DENTISTS

Some of the amenities offered by "dental spas," the upscale dental treatment centres in the U.S., include: massages, fresh-baked cookies, warmed neck-pillows, video games and scented nitrous oxide.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

May 2000 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

May 2000 Edition

 

GROWTH



Strong growth in industrial countries, an "exceptional recovery" in world trade and higher commodity prices will help boost average growth rates for developing countries to 4.6 percent this year and slightly higher in 2001, according to a new Global Development Finance report from the World Bank. The developing countries that are expected to grow the fastest are those that rely more heavily on trade, have more diversified economies, are attracting foreign direct investment and have achieved recent gains in competitiveness.

TOBACCO

There is growing evidence that many pharmacy owners and operators are uncomfortable with selling tobacco, and a growing number of stores in the U.S. are dropping tobacco products. Nonetheless, officials at retail drugstore companies say cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products are still stocked because the public wants them. They cite data indicating that between 20 and 25% of Americans still smoke. They also cite cases in which a drugstore has dropped tobacco, only to find that its overall sales have declined. Tobacco, they contend, is a traffic builder.

LAWYERS

According to the 1996 census, there were 57,680 lawyers in Canada, 30 per cent of which are women.

BANANAS

A WTO dispute arbitrator has ruled that Ecuador - the world's largest Banana exporter - could request over US$200 million in retaliatory sanctions against the EU for the EU's failure to comply with a 1999 ruling against its banana import regime. Subsequent EU attempts at compliance have yet to satisfy Ecuador or the other parties in the dispute who argue that the EU proposals continue to discriminate against its exports.

JAPAN

Japan's reluctance to open its economy to foreigners diminished a bit in 1999, according to figures from Japan's central bank. Foreign direct investment in Japan was, at Yen 1.4 trillion (US$12.3 billion), almost three-and-a-half times higher than in 1998.

FAKE

Organizers of a Europe-wide campaign to label counterfeit goods as "uncool" are asking industry and consumer groups to support the venture that will target the youth market. The 'Don't fake it' campaign to be co-ordinated by AIM, the European Brands Association, together with the Paris-based, Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GAGC), seeks to curb demand for counterfeit goods by highlighting the unethical side of product piracy. The campaign organizers hope to launch the campaign in five European countries - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK.

HEALTH CARE

Canadians spent $18.1 billion on health and personal care products in 1999, up 9.4% from 1998. Health and personal care products include cosmetics, drugs (prescription and over-the-counter), vitamins, eyewear, and other toiletries. Although drugstores capture the majority of the market for these products, in 1999, consumers bought $3.2 billion of health and personal care products at food stores, 23.7% more than they did in 1998. Another $2.8 billion was bought at general merchandise stores, 16.0% more than in 1998. As a result, the food store share of the health and personal care product market grew by 2.0 percentage points to 17.8%, and general merchandise stores reached 15.5%.

ICE CREAM

A Washington ice cream maker has been targeting Asian American tastes with flavours like green tea, ginger, sour plum, mango, sesame, lichee, taro and green bean. Durian is a favourite among a small clientele but the maker will only sell this foul smelling flavour by the quart.

FREE-TRADE

Japan has a long-held policy of shunning bilateral accords in favour of multilateral agreements, but is reportedly looking at bilateral accords as a way to build momentum for the stalled multilateral trade process. Free-trade talks with Singapore offer the most promising prospects, both in terms of being achievable and with regard to the benefits such an accord would deliver. Singapore, a member with Japan in the Asia Pacific Economic Co- operation (APEC) forum, is expected to sign a free trade agreement with New Zealand later this year, and is expected to launch talks with Chile and Mexico.

ASSISTANCE

According to its annual report, the Canadian government's Export Development Corp. served a record 5,182 customers in 1999, up 16 per cent from a year earlier. The EDC supported more than $40 billion in sales and foreign investments in 1999, up 15 per cent from 1998 and the agency earned a profit of $118 million.

TRADE

According to the latest WTO figures, the U.S. was the top exporter last year with foreign sales of $695 billion, 12.4 per cent of world exports. America exported more goods than any other single country, but the EU, with exports of $799 billion, took a bigger share (18.9 per cent) of world trade. World exports grew by 3 per cent in 1999 to $5,610 billion.

PROFITS

A London Internet consulting firm forecasts that U.K. supermarkets will lose more than $159 million U.S. this year on costly and inefficient online home delivery services. While consumer willingness to buy groceries online will grow this year, vendors' operating losses will too. Grocery products are currently moved around twice as many times as they should be to get them from warehouse to kitchen after an Internet order. Retailers may end up with little to show for heavy outlays now being made on poorly focused advertising of online services and on computer technology infrastructure.

NEW ZEALAND

After enthusiastically embracing free trade for a number of years, the new Government of New Zealand has announced that the proposed tariff reductions, to come into effect on 1st July, will be scrapped. The government is also moving to repeal a 1998 law, the Tariff (Zero Duty) Amendment Act, which would have phased out all tariffs by 2006.

ANTS

Fire ants were probably introduced into the U.S. 70-80 years ago and now cover the south-eastern U.S. from Texas to Virginia. In the west, inadvertent transport by humans has helped them reach California. Besides sending 30,000 people to hospital each year, fire ants are hurting the economy. They damage the nursery and sod-growing industry which in South Carolina is worth $200 million a year. They love electrical wiring and can put appliances out of action. They costs South Carolinians $80 per household per year and cost Texans even more

FAIR TRADE

Sales of products carrying the Max Havelaar fair trade label rose 29 percent between 1998 and 1999, increasing to about US$40 million from US$28 million. The label is carried on a range of products: coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, sugar, orange juice and bananas. Max Havelaar products are certified for fair trade standards by the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), which encourages the development of a fair market through setting minimum prices that cover the costs of production of each good and cutting intermediaries from the trading scheme.

PARTNERS

Thirteen of the world's leading retailers have announced they will form a collaborative partnership to establish the WorldWide Retail Exchange. The exchange is a web-based marketplace, enabling transactions between retailers operating in the food, general merchandise and drugstore sectors. The new business-to-business exchange is expected to begin operating mid-2000. It is designed to facilitate and simplify trading between retailers and over 100,000 suppliers, partners and distributors. Together, the group operates over 30,000 stores and had 1999 combined sales of over US$345 billion.

WTO

At a recent meeting in Hawaii, representatives from 1,100 businesses in 20 Asian countries called on World Trade Organization Members to review their positions outstanding from the failed WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle and demonstrate flexibility necessary to bridge remaining gaps and move forward expeditiously on negotiations aimed at launching a new global round. The WTO Director General has also warned that a new round will not take place until WTO Members take more flexible positions in key negotiating areas.

CARGO

A new Internet portal has been launched in Singapore for the buying and selling of surplus cargo space. CargoExchange.net is a neutral business-to-business exchange for the on-line trading of surplus global container cargo space. The exchange allows buyers and sellers to post bids and, after the bids are closed, negotiate the price anonymously. Their identities are revealed once the brokerage payment has been made.

NAFTA

In the sixth anniversary year of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), each country welcomed the spectacular success of the Agreement and the benefits it has brought to the people and economies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Trade between the three countries has grown by 96% since the NAFTA came into force. From less than US$289 billion in 1993, trilateral trade has now surpassed US$567 billion. Investment among the three economies has also increased significantly, with more than US$189 billion invested in each other's economies in 1997.

ATMs

The first cash dispenser was opened in 1967 in the Enfield branch of Barclays Bank in England. The maximum single withdrawal was 10 pounds ($25.00).

FOOD

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent a higher proportion of their food dollars on meals outside the home during the 1990s than in the 1980s. Of every $100 spent on food in 1998, an average of $34.60 went to meals outside the home, mostly in restaurants, up from $32.70 in 1989. This increase may have been due to several factors: economic expansion and improved consumer confidence in the mid- to late 1990s; greater time constraints for consumers; more single-person households; and rapid growth in the number of food service establishments. Personal expenditures on meals purchased outside the home increased 42.2% from 1989 to 1998.

WINE

U.S. wine exports, about 95 percent from California, edged up two percent to $548 million in 1999, representing a 300 percent increase from a decade ago in 1990. By volume, wine exports posted a gain of five percent over the previous year to 75.4 million gallons.

In Canada, wine-makers are demanding that the government protest EU policies to the WTO. The EU has banned all Canadian ice wine on the grounds that its sugar content is too high. The EU also bans all but $500,000 worth of regular Canadian wine because Canadian wine-making processes are different from those in Europe.

PAPER

Moose droppings have been used by a Swedish manufacturer to make elegant grey paper. The company makes paper out of all sorts of things including old jeans, wasp nests, nettles and egg cartons.

NAMES

Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda was the creation of Charles Griggs from Missouri, who introduced the lemon-lime drink in 1929. Four years later he renamed it 7-Up. Sales increased significantly.

Thank you for reading the A & A Economic News Digest. For more information visit our website www.aacb.com or contact A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd. at strehler@aacb.com.

Past issues of the A&A Economic News Digest can be found at http://www.aacb.com/publications/ed/index.asp

SEPTEMBER 1996 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 
SEPTEMBER 1996 Edition

EXPORTERS SOFTWARE
            Advice for service companies interested in export markets is now available on computer disk from the federal government. Take A World View is a six-disk package that includes descriptions of the exporting process, help for developing an export plan, a list of common mistakes and information on networking and developing partnerships. The software, produced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, costs $49.95 plus tax, and can be ordered by calling 1-819-956-4800.
NAFTA
            The North American Development Bank, created under the NAFTA to improve conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border, has yet to lend any of the $1.5 billion (U.S.) available. It was designed to respond to criticism that NAFTA would add new pressures on an already burdened border infrastructure. Meanwhile, according to the General Accounting Office, lack of basic water, waste water and sanitation services continue to affect the well-being of many of the 10 million Mexicans and Americans who live along the border. A new report suggests that Bank policies could be inhibiting loans to small communities along the 3,400 kilometre border.
USED CARS
            Because of the rising cost of new cars, Canadians are increasingly turning to the used car market and leasing instead of buying. About 64 per cent of cars, trucks and minivans acquired during the past year were used, versus 36 per cent new. The number of people leasing new cars soared to almost 40 per cent of buyers of 1996 models, from 25 per cent in previous years. Among buyers of used cars, 77 per cent said the most important reason for their choice was price. People are also hanging onto their vehicles much longer.
BEVERAGES
            According to the Beverage Marketing Corp., the so-called "new age" drinks industry, with products like kiwi lime and grapefruit spring water, has hit its peak and the market is declining while consumers have moved on to other things. The North American market is worth $5.5 billion annually. Competition among new entrants into the sector has taken its toll. As a result, companies are scrambling to fashion new looks for themselves and find more products and markets.
TOLL-FREE
            A new standard adopted by the International Telecommunications Union will allow businesses to use the same toll-free long-distance telephone number anywhere in the world starting next year. More than 100 million toll-free calls are made every day in the U.S. alone and the service is so popular that Canadian and U.S. phone companies ran out of numbers using the 800 prefix and had to add 888 numbers this year. Customers who want a universal number will be allocated an eight-digit number to be used after the 800 prefix instead of the current seven-digit number which will make an additional 90 million freephone numbers available to carriers, compared with the nine million now in use. The ITU will manage a single global registry and the universal numbers will be portable, meaning that businesses can keep the number even if they change carriers.
PRINT
            A survey of U.S. small businesses by the Japanese company Okidata--which makes printers and fax machines-- found that 91 per cent use print materials to market themselves. Brochures and flyers are favourite, used by 54 per cent of respondents, while 33 per cent use direct mail. Most firms, 72 per cent, said they print their own materials and 70 per cent believe printed materials are "very effective" in their marketing efforts.
RECYCLING
            People who want the convenience of disposable containers but worry about environmental pollution now have an alternative--edible tableware. A Taiwanese inventor claims to have perfected a range of palatable bowls, which look like plastic or ceramic tableware. They turn into chemical- and preservative-free porridge when soaked in water and cooked for several minutes.
ISRAEL
            Canada and Israel have now signed a free trade deal which will see tariffs eliminated on most products within two years. Trade between the two countries totalled $450 million last year, up 37 per cent from 1994. Canadian exports were $237 million, up 49 per cent. Currently, about 67 per cent of Israel's goods enter Canada duty free but far fewer Canadian goods enter Israel duty free and some face tariffs of up to 25 per cent. The agreement does not include dairy, poultry or egg products and provides limited tariffs on some other agricultural goods. Canada hopes to extend the agreement to the Palestinian territories.
WORK
            Looking at the labour market each month as it fluctuates marginally leaves the impression it is virtually static. The reality is far more complex. An analysis of the 1993 labour market           shows that for nearly every member of the 16 million-strong work force, it was a year of massive upheaval. 27 per cent, or 4.3 million, experienced a change in job status--lost a job, got a job or moved in or out of the labour force. Another 1.6 million, representing 10 per cent, worked the entire year but changed jobs at least once. Among the 8.1 million who held the same job throughout the year, one in five said they received a substantial raise of 10 per cent or more while one in ten reported a wage cut of at least 10 per cent. 3.5 million or 22 per cent were unemployed at least once.
ASIA
            According to the OECD, Asia still boasts the world's most dynamic emerging economies. China will yet again have the fastest growth in 1996 and 1997 with the GDP growing 10.5 per cent in each year. Thailand and Malaysia are next with economies likely to grow by around 8 per cent this year.
EUROPE
            An ad campaign by the Swedish government is urging fathers to take their allotted one month off work at nearly full pay to spend time with their young children.
            To deter speeding motorists, the Dutch city of Culemborg plans to introduce sheep onto its roads. Half a dozen sheep will be released this month and if the plan works, the number of sheep will be increased to over 100.
TELEVISION
            In 1995, for the first time in a decade, Canadians watched more television. On average, Canadians spent 23.2 hours in front of the small screen, 30 minutes more than in 1994. Statistics Canada say the increase is mainly a result of the six specialty channels introduced at the start of 1995. When removing the audiences for these channels, the numbers are similar to previous years. Quebec had the highest provincial viewing average, 26.2 hours a week, while British Columbians watched the least television, at 21.2 hours.
WEALTH CREATION
            A leading venture capitalist in California's Silicon Valley has calculated that the personal computer has caused the highest creation of wealth in the history of the planet. Between them, just three companies--Microsoft, Intel and Compaq--have a stock market valuation of $130 billion (U.S.), more than all the film studios in Hollywood.
OPENINGS
            Wal-Mart Stores has opened two stores  in Shenzhen, marking its official entrance into China's booming consumer market. Shenzhen is just across the border from Hong Kong and boasts China's highest per capita income. One is a Supercenter, open to the public and the other a members-only Sam's Club.
            Seattle based Starbucks Corp, has opened its first store outside North America in the heart of Tokyo's trendy Ginza shopping district. Japan is the fourth largest coffee consuming country in the world, after the U.S., Brazil and Germany.
JEWELLERY
            Canada's $2 billion jewellery industry is in revolt over an obscure, 80 year old, federal excise tax saying it is responsible for an explosion in black market sales since the recession. The 10 per cent luxury levy, applied since the First World War, is charged on items worth more than $3.00 and raised $59 million in 1994-95 alone. The taxes are collected by manufacturers on sales to wholesalers, retailers or directly to the public. A 1993 study estimates that the underground economy now constitutes 30 to 60 per cent of the jewellery sector, or between $600,000 and $1.2 billion.
MILK
            Some B.C. farmers are threatening to dump milk down the drain that they are not allowed to sell as a protest against Canada's milk marketing system. British Columbia cannot process enough milk products for its own population. Quebec holds 48 per cent of the Canadian quota for products such as cheese and butter while having only 25 per cent of the country's population. The B.C. quota is less than five per cent, yet the province consumes nearly 12 per cent of industrial dairy products. Meanwhile, producers in Quebec receive grants to build new plants to send products to B.C.
PENSIONS
            The Fraser Institute has concluded that provincial administrations across Canada owe $49 billion to their employee pension plans. In B.C., we owe about $3.5 billion to teachers, judges and other public employees, compared to $10 billion in Ontario and $21.3 billion in Quebec and $5 billion in Alberta. Saskatchewan's auditor sounded the alarm in May when he warned that the province's $3.1 billion unfunded pension liability threatens more than just retirement security for 133,000 public employees. It also could affect taxpayers if the shortfall frightens off investors, adding to ever-rising borrowing costs and deepening provincial debt.
COMPANIES
            The world's three biggest companies in 1995 (ranked by sales) were all Japanese--as were ten of the top 15. With sales of $184 billion Mitsubishi, a trading company, was top. The fourth biggest was General Motors with sales of $170 billion. The only non Japanese or U.S. firm in the top 15 was Royal Dutch Shell which had the tenth-highest sales in the world but made the largest profits of $6.9 billion.
GOLF
            A Forbes article states that while golf courses are popping up everywhere, the golf boom seems to have run its course in the U.S. The number of golfers peaked at 27.8 million in 1990 and declined to 25 million last year. Women golfers are down to 5.4 million from 6.5 million in 1990 and total rounds of golf fell to 490 million from 505 million in 1992. Spending has also levelled off: sales of equipment was unchanged at $1.37 billion last year. Among the reasons, golf clubs are being built sturdier and are not replaced as often.
COMMUNICATIONS
            In the late 1970s, the world's first mobile telephone service started in Tokyo. By 1989 fewer than 250,000 people had one and in 1994 there were still only 2.1 million subscribers. Everything changed last year and there are now more than 11 million cellular phones being carried around Japan. The difference was the introduction of a cheap and diminutive competitor, the Personal Handyphone System. The PHS is a cross between the cordless phone used around the home and the more sophisticated cellular used in cars, but much more mobile than the cordless phone and much cheaper than the cellular. The tiny radio transmitters and receivers that PHS operators fix on top of street lamps, telegraph poles and telephone kiosks cost only one-50th of a typical cellular base station. The handset also costs half as much as a cellular phone to make.
INVESTMENTS
            Karolina, a chimpanzee in Poland's Cracow zoo, picked stocks on the Warsaw exchange that earned a 10 per cent return on a three month investment, beating a stockbroker's selections.

DECEMBER 1995 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

 

DECEMBER 1995 Edition

 

EXPORT DATA

            The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has created a directory of electronically available international business data sources to help Canadian firms seeking to obtain business data on foreign markets. Persons can now obtain a wealth of information that is useful in developing an export plan or implementing an export strategy. The directory can be accessed through menu M22 of the InfoCentre BBS from which it can be downloaded. To access the InfoCentre BBS, dial (613) 994-1581 from your computer modem, or 1-800-628-1581 (line parameters set at 8-N-1, baud speed up to 14,400, terminal emulation set for ANSI/ASCII standards). The directory is organized by geographic region--Canada, United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

 

CHINA

            China has suddenly exploded into a global export power. It now produces half the world's toys and two-thirds of its shoes. Most of the world's bicycles, lamps, power tools and sweaters also come from China. More worrisome to export giants like Japan and the United States, China's export surge is now being powered by coveted, high-tech products. Exports of machinery and electronics--from alarm clocks to video camcorders--have jumped 60 per cent so far this year Chinese statistics show, becoming its top export category for the first time. If China's current trade trajectory holds, it will export $38 billion more than it imports from the U.S. Next year, U.S. officials estimate the surplus could reach $50 billion putting it close to Japan whose bilateral trade advantage with the U.S. is $66 billion.

 

LICENSING

            The Vatican Library has given its blessing to a lucrative licensing project that could put its official seal on everything from luggage to bed linens. You can already buy Vatican costume jewellery and will probably soon find Vatican watches, greeting cards and T-shirts at the mall. Over the first five years, licensing revenue is projected to average about $5 million (U.S.) annually jumping to $10 to $20 million annually after that. When Pope John Paul II visited Denver in 1993, roughly $400 million of Pope-related material was sold in a 30-day period. The Vatican joins Queen Elizabeth II who approved the sale of goods under the House of Windsor name including furniture and Scottish throw rugs. The Mormon church has also begun expanding its licensing activities.

 

RESTAURANTS

            An analysis of the financial results of 1,151 restaurants by Dun & Bradstreet Canada has pinpointed the restaurant industry as the most unstable field of all the businesses it studies, with low profit margins and high failure rates. The average restaurant had an after-tax return on sales of just 2.1 per cent last year, while return on assets was a dismal 4.77 per cent. Costs of food and beverages increased to 34.9 per cent of total sales in 1994, up from 32.7 per cent in 1992 while other operating expenses, such as salaries and rents, accounted for 55.2 per cent of sales in 1994, up from 53.4 per cent. Introducing the GST in 1991 caused sales to drop 10 per cent that year alone and they have never recovered to prior levels. Restaurants are most stable in Quebec and the Maritimes and least stable in Ontario. The average restaurant faces a 3.66 per cent risk it will close in the next six months and business failures are surprisingly high in the eighth and ninth years of operations.

 

GLOBAL ECONOMY

            According to the World Trade Organization, world trade in goods, spurred by the integration of the global economy, is expected to grow 8 per cent in volume in 1995. The WTO says that the strong global trade figures indicate protectionism is losing out to liberalization. Though the 8 per cent figure is down from the 9.5 per cent increase in 1994, it will still keep trade expansion at nearly three times that of overall world economic growth which is projected to be 3 per cent. In 1994, the value of world merchandise trade rose to $4.09 trillion.

 

EUROCOWS

            As far as European Community cows are concerned, 1996 will not be a leap year. Rather than recalculate production formulas based on 365 days, Brussels bureaucrats have decided that any milk the animals produce on February 29th will be credited to the two months before or after that date.

 

RETAIL

            Zellers Inc., with more than 300 stores, used to be the undisputed king of discount retailing in Canada. For more than a year now, Zellers and Wal-Mart Canada, with its 129 Canadian stores, have been trading punches with one retailer dropping its prices only to be matched or outdone by the other. While the consumer has benefitted, the impact on both companies' earnings is noticeable. Wal-Mart absorbed a loss last year and in the first quarter of 1995 while Zellers operating profits have been sliding. Zellers is about to open its biggest store yet, about 147,000 square feet, close to a Wal-Mart store in Montreal. The store will serve as a laboratory of sorts as it tests various strategies for boosting sales across its entire chain. Wal-Mart claims to have boosted its share of the discount market to 40 per cent from the 22 per cent when it bought the Woolco chain.

 

NAFTA

            The Canadian government has acknowledged for the first time that it won't achieve a comprehensive deal with the U.S. and Mexico by year-end on getting rid of arbitrary trade laws within the North American free-trade agreement. Instead, the partners are expected to issue an interim report that will include recommendations for some technical and administrative changes to anti-dumping and countervailing duty rules. The Canadian government has long argued that absence of clear rules and arbitrary U.S. trade remedy measures are to blame for a deluge of cross-border disputes in recent years, including those involving steel and softwood lumber.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

            Telephone users in Regina, Saskatchewan, can now call a business by dialling a three-digit code and speaking the company's name into a computer. Sask'Tel, is the first phone company in North America to begin testing the new application of voice-recognition developed by Bell-Northern, a division of Northern Telecom. After the first month of the trial, the 325 businesses that have agreed to participate will pay a monthly fee to have their name stored on the computerized system which has an almost limitless vocabulary and does not have to be trained to recognize speakers. If successful, the system will go into service across the country.

 

COMPETITION

            The inefficiency of Japan's offices contrasts sharply with the legendary productivity of its factories. Last year, only 25 per cent of white-collar workers had personal computers. When Compaq and Dell Computers invaded Japan's market three years ago with personal computers selling at half the price of Japanese products, Japan's computer makers braced for declining market share and falling profits. But instead of killing Japan's PC market, the U.S. invasion has liberated it. Japanese manufacturers have become fierce competitors, cutting prices dramatically, and the results have been a boom in sales for both Japanese and U.S. manufacturers with sales climbing by a third in 1994. Sales in 1995 are expected to jump by 50 per cent. Leading the U.S. companies was Apple Computer Inc. which has now become the No 2 personal computer vendor behind NEC Corp. with a 15 per cent market share.

 

EDUCATION

            Officials at some of Canada's major banks are discussing a loyalty credit card that would allow users to put a percentage of their purchases into a fund for their children's post secondary education. The Student Co-operative Canada Project--Scoop for short--would award card users points for up to five per cent of purchases from designated companies.. The points would be transferable to a post-secondary education savings plan that would be managed by mutual funds for individual students. The card proposal is being designed to include accumulating points for debit card purchases and even cash purchases. It would also allow card users to convert points from Air Miles and other existing loyalty programs.

 

BIOTECHNOLOGY

            According to Ernst & Young, Canadian biotechnology companies are continuing to use strategic alliances with bigger, better capitalized partners to replace other sources of capital. Biotechnology product sales rose to $9.3 billion (U.S.) as of June 1995, an 18 per cent rise over the previous year. Market capitalization of companies in this business rose 27 per cent to $52 billion. The Canadian industry now has about 200 biotech companies and about 30 publicly listed biotech companies. They are also capitalizing on the need of large pharmaceutical companies to buy research from outside sources to attract funds.

 

WORK

            By overwhelming majorities, Canadian and U.S. employees say they are fulfilled by their work, but many express dissatisfaction with their pay, opportunities to advance and employers' concern for their needs. Canadian employees (77 per cent), more so than Americans (72 per cent) say their job "provides a sense of personal accomplishment" even though fewer Canadians (41 per cent) than Americans (45 per cent) believe they have a chance to advance. Employees of both countries say they can "have a direct impact" in helping their firms succeed through their day-to-day-efforts, including "high-quality" customer service.

 

MEXICO

            Mexican exports to Canada increased 24 per cent in the first eight months of the year, while imports from Canada fell 8.5 per cent. Their exports have been helped by a weaker peso which was devalued last December and has fallen 54 per cent against the U.S. dollar in the past 11 months. This has also put a brake on Mexican imports but those from Canada have fallen at a lower rate than those from Japan and Europe. 51.8 per cent of Mexican exports to Canada were consumer goods, 31 per cent were raw materials and 10.7 per cent capital goods.

 

GENERIC DRUGS

            According to a study by IMS Canada, growth in sales of generic drugs outpaced that of brand-name pharmaceuticals by more than five times in the 12 months ended September 1995. Generic drug producers saw their sales rise 13.8 per cent compared to a 2.7 increase reported by brand-name manufacturers. Generic drugs now represent 14 per cent of retail drug store sales, up from 11 per cent in 1991 and it is projected that this figure will reach 16 per cent of retail sales by the year 2000.

 

LOANS

            Loans of up to $250,000 are to be made available to asset-poor, idea-rich, knowledge-based businesses in Western Canada under a $25 million program announced by the federal government and its Business Development Bank of Canada. One appealing feature is that repayments of both principal and interest can be deferred for up to three years. The bank will charge a base interest rate plus a royalty on a borrower's sales. Major banks have traditionally turned down knowledge-based businesses, even when they have signed contracts in hand, because they don't have buildings, machinery or inventory to assign as security on loans.

 

INCENTIVES

            "Stop smoking for three years and save enough money to buy an ox."--The slogan of China's new anti-smoking campaign.

 

DUST TO DUST

            A devotee of the Real Betis soccer team in Spain who died last year asked his son to take his ashes to every game. The son went one better by renewing his father's club membership entitling the ashes to a seat. Security officials balked when he carried the ashes in a glass jar which they considered to be a dangerous object. So now he takes his father in a one-litre milk carton.

APRIL 1995 Economic Digest - Importing and Exporting

 

 

APRIL 1995  Edition 

 

 

INTERNET

            The Pacific Northwest Economic Development Council, a 36 year old non-profit organization representing economic development professionals in the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho along with the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, has produced an excellent Internet-based regional development tool. The system, named "Pacific Northwest Passages" and found by any WWW browser at http://awinc.com/pnedc/ features city profiles full of key information for international business marketers, local business opportunity listings and a professional economic development resource directory. Anyone interested in doing business with the Pacific Northwest and its annual GDP of $326 billion will find this system invaluable for leads and contacts. This Economic Digest also appears on "Passages" and questions or requests for more information on any item may be posted at the same Internet address.

 

TICKETS

            Later this year, Air Canada plans to go ahead with a new ticketless travel system that will enable passengers to book their tickets by home computer and pay with a credit card when they arrive on board. It is estimated that this will save the airline up to $1.5 million in paper, printing and handling. Over the long term, it could result in significant savings by avoiding travel-agent commissions which cost the airline $310 million in 1994. Ticketless travel could theoretically save $40 million a year.

 

FRAUD

            Fake grocery coupons are making the rounds, involving books of coupons purported to be worth up to $6,000 each in prizes from big-name manufacturers such as Nabisco, Nestle and Kraft. Since last fall, almost 4,500 Canadians have lost roughly $4.5 million in the scam. Consumers have called the companies complaining that grocery stores will not honour the bogus coupons. Most of the coupons claim to have a $10 value and carry a picture of a grocery cart in the middle. Telemarketers have used high pressure sales tactics to sell the coupons, which are being sold for roughly $200 to $1,200 a book.

 

NAFTA

            Despite the current problems with Mexico, formal negotiations to bring Chile into NAFTA start in May and could be concluded within a year. Next will be Argentina and Brazil.

Unlike Mexico, Chile is small with 14 million people. Democracy is well established and Chile had a ten-year start over other Latin American countries in market reforms and began bringing down its own trade barriers without waiting for others to reciprocate.

            The economy has grown uninterruptedly for 11 years, and at an average annual rate of 7 per cent for the last eight years. Chile's investment rate is 25 per cent, nearly up to Asian levels. Inflation is down to single digits, unemployment a mere 5 per cent, foreign trade in surplus and external debt under control. Santiago has plenty of mobile telephones, a modern skyline and American-educated officials who talk enthusiastically about privatization. Only a few adjustments are expected to be necessary in areas such as patents and repatriation of foreign investment. However, agriculture may prove to be a sensitive subject.

 

RESOURCES

            Last year, 10,000 Canadians were working in coal mining and production jumped 5.6 per cent to over 72 million tonnes of coal valued at $1.8 billion. Alberta and B.C are the biggest producers with a combined production of 58 million tonnes. Canada consumes 50 million tonnes and exports the balance to more than 20 countries. The biggest customers are in Japan, South Korea and Brazil.

            The Canadian oil and gas industry drilled 11,872 wells in 1994, up from 9,396 the previous year. 77.7 per cent of wells drilled in 1994 struck either oil or natural gas compared with 81 per cent in 1993. Oil wells accounted for 45.2 per cent of successful drilling and gas wells for 32.4 per cent.

 

TRAVEL

            In 1993, U.S. residents made 12 million trips to Canada and spent C$4.1 billion. The typical traveller stayed 3.9 nights and spent $87 per night. Americans tended to visit in the summer and come from four states: New York, Michigan, Washington and California. In more than half the cases, pleasure was the primary reason for visiting Canada (Ontario was the main destination); visits to friends or relatives accounted for a fifth of the total; business trips represented 15 per cent of all overnight trips.

 

HUNTING

            The Government of Alberta recently approved for auction, in Phoenix, the chance to hunt a bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains. The winner, a Colorado businessman, paid $225,000 (U.S.) and will be given a month to hunt down one mature male. Last month at an auction in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Washington hunter bid $23,000 for an elk-hunting permit. Similar sales are not allowed in Alberta where residents pay $10 each to enter draws for the chance to hunt elk or sheep.

 

WOMEN

            The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says a country-wide survey has found "outrageous" discrimination against female entrepreneurs. They are likely to find discrimination on two levels: they are refused loans 20 per cent more often than men, and when they do get financing, they often pay a higher rate of interest than do men. The CFIB has recommended that banks should decentralize their credit decision making to the branch level where a relationship of confidence exists between the account manager and borrower; that account managers should be better trained in understanding the importance of female entrepreneurs in the Canadian economy; and that financial institutions must better understand the particular needs of small and medium sized businesses, especially those owned by women.

 

COMPUTERS

            Computers are big business in Canada, and the industry is growing quickly. According to Industry Canada, the top 100 Canadian computer companies are growing faster--30 per cent between 1992 and 1993--than the top 100 U.S. computer companies, which grew at only 19 per cent over the same period. Depending on how you define the industry, the Information Technology sector is worth anywhere between $19 billion and $49 billion a year and employed 342,000 Canadians in 1994. The IT industry grew by 6.7 per cent last year, easily outpacing most other sectors of the economy.

 

INDIA

            Canada was once India's third largest trading partner, now it is 24th behind Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands and trails badly all the other Group of Seven nations. Canada's exports to India remained flat in the first six months of this fiscal year, at about $151 million (U.S.), while India's total merchandise imports soared 22 per cent to $17.6 billion. In the Indian market, exports are doubling every five years and domestic demand will soon outstrip that of many industrialized countries. In its most recent budget, the Indian government announced further tariff cuts on industrial goods and a five-year tax holiday on investments in infrastructure projects.

 

EDUCATION

            Last year, the economy added 277,000 jobs, its best showing since 1988. But a large group of Canadians are getting nothing out of the recovery. If you have completed some form of postsecondary education--a university degree, a community college diploma, a training certificate--you will get a job. Without it you won't. For those with high-school education, or less, 145,000 jobs disappeared. For those with post secondary education, 422,000 jobs opened up. That means 99.3 per cent of people entering the labour force with a degree or diploma found work. From 1990 to 1992, total employment fell 323,000; from 1992 to 1994 employment rose by 450,000. Last year we were 127,000 jobs ahead of 1990. From 1990 to 1994, the economy created about 957,000 jobs for people with that essential piece of paper. At the same time, it destroyed 830,000 jobs for people with anything less, a massive change over such a short period in a 13.3 million-person job market.

 

ABSENTEEISM

            Canadians missed an average of 9.3 days at work in 1993, but the portion of time off because of illness and disability dropped slightly from a decade earlier. Time lost because of illness or disability declined to about 6.1 days from 6.7 days in 1983. Meanwhile, time lost for personal or family responsibilities increased from 1.9 to 3.3 days. Factors contributing to the decline in time off because of illness range from non-smoking workplaces, to fitness programs and improved safety conditions.

 

TECHNOLOGY

            B.C. firms lag behind those in other parts of Canada in adopting computer-based technology. According to Statistics Canada, among Ontario companies, 86 per cent have at least one technology on the premises, compared to 77 per cent on the Prairies, 76 per cent in Quebec and just 66 per cent in B.C.

 

PRIVATIZATION

            The federal weather offices in B.C. and Yukon are expecting to earn an estimated $500,000 this year. Under the federal government's move towards commercialization, the weather office is now selling commercials on weather information lines, working in partnership with private enterprise and developing personalized forecasts for business For $87.00 an hour, a business can get a one-on-one consultation from weather specialists. At the low end of the scale, people are paying a few dollars to get detailed weather faxes for holiday destinations. Next month, a marine weather service comes on line called Weathercall. A bulletin board for computer users, weather fax service and 900 lines are all new services.

 

SNOWBIRDS

            The recent budget will affect Canadians who live abroad permanently. Starting next year, they will lose at least one-quarter of their monthly Old Age Security cheques. If they don't tell Ottawa how much they earn--or if they do but earn over $84,000-- they lose OAS altogether. This budget provision will affect 69,000 of the 3.4 million people who receive OAS. As the system now works, Ottawa taxes back part of OAS income to people living in Canada if their annual income is more than $53,215 but it has no way of doing the same to Canadians who have left the country.

            A Canadian living in the U.S., for example, gets the whole amount and pays U.S. taxes on half of it. Under the new system, the same person would pay a withholding tax of 25 per cent of the monthly OAS payment, but the U.S. will not tax the remaining 75 per cent. This move will leave individuals worse off, but Ottawa, not Washington, will get the tax revenue.

 

BUREAUCRACY

            A 69-year old man who lay dead for nearly four years in a London council apartment building has been judged as a victim of "indifferently managed" home-help services. We wonder what would constitute "badly-managed" services!        

 

EMPLOYMENT VACANCY

            The post of Sheriff of Nottingham, once held by the arch-foe of legendary outlaw Robin Hood, is vacant for the first time in 800 years because nobody wants the job.

 

POLLS

            In a recent poll by the Washington Post, 43 per cent of people surveyed either approved of the 1975 Public Affairs Act or felt that it should be repealed. There is no such legislation!

 

TRIVIA

            After only seven days of learning, a herd of 133 cows in Sussex, England, have started to milk themselves. They decide when they want to be milked by the Dutch-made robotic system and if there is a technical hitch, the farmer is contacted by modem.

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