The “Swiftest” Concert Ticket Sell-Out Ever in China

swiftShanghai, China – Marking the fastest-ever ticket sale in China’s history, Taylor Swift recently sold out Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena in only one minute.

The record-breaking sale came as a result of Swift’s announcement that she would be taking her “RED Tour” to Asia this summer. Six other Asian dates also sold out in record time, according to media reports. The RED Tour is being promoted by AEG Live Asia.

Last year, the North American portion of Taylor’s The RED Tour played to more than 1.36 million fans over 66 shows in 47 cities in 29 states and 3 Canadian provinces spanning 6 months.

Also last year, the tour went ‘down under,’ performing sold out stadium shows in Australia and New Zealand, becoming the first solo female artist in twenty years to undertake a national stadium concert tour of Australia. The tour has already visited Europe for six sold-out shows in 2014.

Taylor Swift is a seven-time Grammy winner and is the youngest artist to be awarded the Grammy Award for ‘Album of the Year.” She is the No. 1 digital music artist of all time, the only female artist in music history to twice have an album hit the 1 million first-week sales figure, and is the first artist since the Beatles to log six or more weeks at #1 with three consecutive studio albums.

Her album RED, released just over a year ago, has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide to date, including more than 1.2 million copies in the US in its first week, scoring the highest first-week sales debut of any album in over a decade.



Lockheed Martin Expands Presence Into Israel

lockheedBe’er Sheva, Israel – Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson has officially opened a representative office in Israel to support the defense contractor’s growing presence in that region.

The new office “further demonstrates the corporation’s commitment to supporting the Israeli Defense Force and their “Move to the South” campaign,” the company said.

Former Israeli Air Force Brig. Gen. Shelly Gotman was recently appointed as Managing Director – Israel for the company’s Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) business and will be based out of the new office.

“We are investing here and building our local team to ensure we have the resources required to support our valued customers and trusted partners in Israel,” said Hewson.

“With the opening of this office and the strategic investments being made by the IDF it is clear that Be’er Sheva is on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of Israel,” she said.

Locating the company’s operations in the capital of the Negev positions the company “to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to: accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent,” she said.

Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS business has been a major provider of information technology solutions and services to the US government for the past 19 years and has been growing its presence in major international markets.

The company’s current IS&GS customers include NATO, the  British air traffic management organization NATS, the Australian Tax office, and the UK Ministry of Justice.



20 Millionth Honda Rolls Off the Assembly Line

Honda 25 YearsTorrance, CA – Honda Motor Co. achieved a major milestone when its 20 millionth vehicle built in the US recently rolled off the assembly line at its plant in Marysville, Ohio.

The Marysville plant was Honda’s first auto plant in the US and the first US-made Honda Accord was produced there in November 1982.

Tokyo-headquartered Honda has invested more than $1.6 billion in the operations at Marysville and its three other auto assembly plants in Indiana, Alabama and Ohio over the past three years to expand their production output and implement new technologies and manufacturing systems.

The company also produces engines in Lincoln, Alabama, and Anna, Ohio, as well as automatic transmissions in Russells Point, Ohio, and Tallapoosa, GA, to supply to its four auto manufacturing plants.

All four assembly plants contributed to the production of the 20 million vehicles, which include 11 models of cars, trucks and SUVs.

Annual production at the four US plants reached 1,309,917 units last year, a record high and a 7.4 percent improvement over 2012.

Honda also manufactured 23.77 million automobile engines and 18.64 million transmissions at its US facilities in 2013.



GSP Trade Aid for Ukraine Sought on Capitol Hill

Flag_of_Ukraine_(clear)Washington, DC – Several key US lawmakers are conferring with the White House to discuss reviving the lapsed Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program in an effort to aid Ukraine.

The Senate Finance Committee, which deals with trade issues, is reportedly discussing renewing the program, which lawmakers let expire at the end of last July after failing to find a way to pay for its extension.

The GSP is a program that permits World Trade Organization regulations to be circumvented by reducing or complete eliminating the tariffs on selected imported goods from ‘developing’ countries, including Ukraine, in an effort to assist in their economic growth and competitive position in the global economy.

President Obama signed a bill into law on April 3 that provides $1 billion in loan guarantees and $150 million in direct assistance to the government in Kiev.

Several weeks ago, US Trade Representative Michael Froman has endorsed renewal of the program as a way to provide further assistance to Ukraine, after Russia annexed the nation’s Crimea region in late March. At a recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Washington, he stated that renewal of the GSP program “would benefit Ukraine immediately.”

US imports from Ukraine declined 23 percent from $1.3 billion in 2012, the last full year the GSP program was in effect, to about $1 billion 2013, according to Commerce Department data.

Total US trade in merchandise with Ukraine last year was $3 billion, less than 1 percent of the US total with the rest of the world.

A delegation from Ukraine visited Washington last weekend to participate in semi-annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.



US, Japan in Critical Transpacific Trade Talks

japanWashington, DC – US Trade Representative Michael Froman has traveled to Japan to meet with top-level officials in an effort to persuade Tokyo to increase access to the country’s agriculture and auto markets.

Froman believes that Japan lowering its trade barriers would open the way for a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed 12-nation trade pact that would significantly impact the flow of two-way trade between Asia and North America.

The negotiation to forge the TPP are in their fifth year and have bogged down over what the US feels is Japan’s intransigence over the market access issue. The stalemate is critical as the US and Japanese economies dominate the group, which encompasses one-third of global imports and exports.

The US wants Japan to open its rice, beef and pork, dairy and sugar sectors, while the Japanese have countered, demanding that the US must produce a timetable on its promise to eliminate its import tariffs of 2.5 percent on passenger cars and 25 percent on light trucks.

The US had hoped to complete the TPP by the end of last year.

A centerpiece of US President Barack Obama’s push to expand the US trade presence in Asia, the TPP includes Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Malaysia and several other Asian countries.

The meeting in Tokyo comes on the heels of the announcement of a basic “economic partnership agreement” between Australia and Japan that will increase bi-lateral investment and substantially reduce the import tariffs on a broad menu of products moving between the two countries.

At the announcement of the new pact, Australian and Japanese officials stressed forging closer security ties as Japan seeks tighter relations with regional partners.

Both countries have reportedly agreed to start talks on cooperation in defense technology and equipment, following Japan’s recent overhaul of a decades-old ban on arms exports.



Los Angeles, Long Beach Port Merger Proposed

Container Ship Cargo, Port Elizabeth, NJ Phil DeggingerLos Angeles, CA – A recommendation by the Los Angeles 2020 Commission to merge the operations of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach into a single, massive “megaport” has been rejected out-of-hand by Long Beach city and port officials.

“I find it … mysterious and condescending and disrespectful that they didn’t have the courtesy to call the Port of Long Beach or the mayor of Long Beach before they issued this recommendation,” Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said in an interview with the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

“It’s an awful idea,” he said. “The two ports have been competing for over a hundred years to the benefit of customers. … Why would we give up our port?”

Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond said he had asked to speak on the issue “but was never given an opportunity to do so.”

Combining the two ports, said Rich Dines, vice president of the Long Beach harbor board, “is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard of,” said, adding that the competition between the two busiest containers ports in the country “is healthy and necessary.

If the two ports “were on the same team, that team would become complacent and then really begin to lose market share,” he said.

The competitive nature of the two ports – literally divided by a line on the map – “makes each other better,” said Dines. “The collaboration is always going to be there on clean air, clean water, port security, port energy. That’s all good. But we’re two separate businesses.”

While the Port of Los Angeles hasn’t endorsed the proposal, it’s “willing to sit down and see if there’s additional collaborative efforts that would be beneficial to the ports and the region,” said port spokesman Philip Sanfield in an interview on a local radio station.

The report suggests creation of a joint port authority similar to the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, where both cities have an equal say in future development.

It also cited the 2008 formation of Port Metro Vancouver and the decision earlier this year by the Puget Sound ports of Seattle and Tacoma to share information about operations, facilities and rates.

“Maritime trade is about to get a lot more complex — and competitive,” the report said. “We should be competing with ports in other regions, not with each other.”

The Port of Los Angeles handled 7.9 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) last year, down slightly from the 8.1 million that passed through its terminals in 2012. Long Beach, on the other hand, saw a slight improvement in its container volume in 2013 with 6.7 million “cans” moving across its docks, up from the 6.0 million the previous calendar year.

Combined, the ports would be the largest port complex in the Americas and rank as the fifth largest in the world.

The L.A. 2020 Commission was created last year by the Los Angeles City Council to identify the chronic economic and growth issues facing the sprawling Los Angeles region and make recommendations on ways to address them.

The 13-member body is headed by former US Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor and is made up of a variety of representatives from the business, labor, political leaders, economic development and non-profit communities.





High-Tech Exports Expected to Soar Through 2030: HSBC

high_tech_trade_onpageNew York, NY – High-tech exports will grow faster than other goods over the next 15 years, as China moves away from its role as a low cost manufacturing center and into making local products, according to research from banking giant HSBC.

By 2030, high-tech goods will comprise more than 25 percent of trade, compared to 22 percent in 2013, says HSBC in its most recent global trade report.

The report asserts that the worth of global goods trade will go up 8 percent annually from 2014 through 2030, while high tech goods will surge 9 percent a year over the same period.

HSBC said much of the future increase in high-tech trade would be driven by the internationalization of supply chains, with parts for high-tech products crisscrossing national borders, but Asian firms would also snare market share from Western competitors.

By 2030, the report said, China will remain the high-tech giant, accounting for more than half the high-tech trade. Hong Kong will rank second, and the United States will rank third, as they do today, but both countries will have a lower market share.

HSBC also predicts that Korea will displace Singapore as the fourth-largest high-tech goods exporter.

The US and the European Union are also pushing China to resume talks on expanding a list of high-tech products covered by a 16-year-old pact that eliminated duties on products including personal computers, laptops and telephones.

The bank report showed China accounted for 36.5 percent of high-tech goods exports in 2013, followed by Hong Kong at 13 percent and the US in third place at 9.6 percent.

In 2000, the US was the world’s biggest tech exporter with a market share of 29.2 percent.


Global Semiconductor Sales Reach Record Levels

semiconductorsWashington, DC – The worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $25.87 billion in February, an increase of 11.4 percent from February 2013 when sales were $23.23 billion, the industry’s largest year-to-year increase in more than three years.

Global sales from February 2014 were 1.5 percent lower than the January 2014 total of $26.26 billion, reflecting normal seasonal trends, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

Regionally, the trade group said, sales in the Americas increased by 18 percent compared to last February. All monthly sales numbers are compiled by WSTS and represent a three-month moving average.

“The trend lines remain positive for the global semiconductor industry, which has followed record revenues in 2013 with an encouraging start to 2014,” said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association.

The Americas market, he said, “continues to demonstrate impressive growth, while sales in Asia Pacific and Europe also increased substantially year-to-year, and the Japanese market continued its recent rebound.”

Regionally, year-to-year sales increased in the Americas (18 percent), Asia Pacific (12 percent), and Europe (9.6 percent). Sales decreased slightly in Japan (- 0.2 percent), but February marked the region’s smallest year-to-year decrease since August 2012.

Sales fell across all regions compared to the previous month, as February sales historically are lower than January sales due to seasonal trends.

“The US semiconductor market has been a key driver of global market growth over the last year, and policymakers in Washington can help maintain this momentum by enacting measures that remove obstacles to continued growth,” said Toohey.

One such obstacle, he said, “is America’s dysfunctional immigration system, which was revealed again this week when scarce H-1B visas were rapidly claimed by employers. Lawmakers should recognize that outdated immigration policies hamper economic growth and innovation, and they should work together to enact meaningful immigration reform in short order.”


‘Flexibility’ Key to Global Branding: Cargo Report

branding  (1)Greenville, SC – Global brands have major muscle to flex when it comes to producing alluring advertising and product packaging, but if their purchase and usage policies aren’t flexible they “will miss the boat on attracting lucrative small business customers,” according to a new report published by ‘new model’ marketing agency Cargo.

Companies such as American Express, Intuit, Dell and GoDaddy, said the company’s latest small-business B-Side Marketing Study, “understand just how big an impact small business has on profits as each of these global brands has dedicated teams, budgets and strategies aimed at marketing products and services specifically tailored for the small business customer.”

In addition, it said, they are also investing more “prime time” brand advertising in small businesses than ever before.

“We always say that to win the mind of the small business owner you must first win their heart,” said Cargo Managing Director Dan Gliatta. “This year’s study confirms this mantra but goes one step further by showing how to win their heart.”

Fifty-four percent of small business owners (SBOs) said marketers get their attention by showing them how they can help their business grow. Another 35 percent say demonstrating how a brand has helped other small businesses is particularly impactful.

“This messaging is not only relevant to securing their business, it must continue beyond the point of sale if marketers expect to retain them as customers,” the report said. “Along with the rebound in SBOs’ optimism comes a propensity to switch brands if they believe they’re not receiving adequate customer service or if they’re not understood.”

These are two of the top reasons SBOs make a decision to switch brands, and they are willing to do plenty of research to find a replacement. Ninety percent will shop for three or more brands when seeking a new provider and 72 percent make the decision within one month.

Customer Loyalty

Small businesses, said Gliatta, “can be one of the most loyal customer groups a brand will ever know, but their driven nature means brand marketers must stay on their toes. The opportunity to take business from a ‘sleeping’ brand is tremendous.”

Where to reach SBOs with relevant messaging is also uncovered in the B-Side Marketing Study. While the top two information sources – industry peers and trade publications – fall on the traditional side of communications tools, the use of new media sources like apps are on the rise, the report said.

Seventy-one percent of SBOs use business apps on a daily basis, a 10 percent increase over last year’s study.

For the past three years, Cargo, with offices in Greenville, SC, and Toronto, has conducted its annual survey of US and Canadian small business owners. This year’s US study was conducted online among a representative sample of out-of-home small business owners with 5 to 249 employees.

New WTO Procurement Agreement Now in Force

untitledGeneva, Switzerland – The revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) has officially entered into force some two years after the Protocol amending the Agreement was originally adopted.

The GPA “ensures that signatories do not discriminate against the products, services or suppliers of other parties to the agreement with respect to the government procurement opportunities that are opened to foreign competition,” the WTO said.

The agreement also requires transparent and competitive purchasing practices in the markets covered.

The GPA is a “plurilateral agreement,” which means that it applies only to those WTO members that have agreed to be bound by it, namely Liechtenstein, Norway, Canada, Chinese Taiwan, Hong Kong, the 28 members of the European Union, Iceland, Singapore, Israel, and the US.

The revision will come into force on April 16 for Japan, which only recently agreed to the provision of the agreement.

Ten other WTO members – Albania, China, Georgia, Jordan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Oman and Ukraine – have applied to join, while another five members – Macedonia, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia – have provisions regarding accession to the agreement in their respective WTO accession protocols.

The parties to the revised GPA, the WTO said, “will see gains in market access of an estimated $80 billion to $100 billion annually for their businesses” that will derive from “the market access result from numerous government entities (ministries and agencies) being added to the scope of the GPA and from new services and other areas of public procurement activities being included in its expanded coverage.”

The agreement’s text “has been streamlined and modernized to include, for example, standards related to the use of electronic procurement tools,” said the global trade body.

Other changes include a new provision relating to the prevention of corrupt practices in the parties’ procurement systems. It also reinforces the scope provided by the original agreement to promote the conservation of natural resources and to protect the environment through the application of appropriate technical specifications.

In addition, the revised GPA also incorporates improved transitional measures to facilitate accession to it by developing and least-developed economies.