North American businessmen have long been aware that traveling to China had its risks: executives with cellphones and laptops feared the theft of intellectual property and cyber attacks when in the biggest of all Asian nations.
But now the level of fear has been notched up to the next level.
Ever since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou on December 1st, traveling to China for business people hailing from the West, and especially North America, has been a nail-biting experience. Wanzhou, the head of giant cellphone maker Huawei, was arrested in Canada and her extradition was requested by the USA. She is charged with fraud because her company has allegedly had business dealings with Iran, a violation of US sanctions against the middle eastern country. Then the atmosphere intensified when Chinese officials stopped two Canadians, saying the pair was suspected of national security violations.
It is supposed by observers that the self-destructive mutual suspicions will not spiral out of control since neither side has any interest in provoking the people they want to do business with, and therefore will not publicly change their travel policies.
Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made. Last week the US tech company Cisco sent an email to their employees telling them that all non-essential trips to China would be suspended. The company caught the mistake and issued an apology stating that their travel policy to China had not changed.
American diplomats and businessmen will say in private that the two Canadians being held in China now is in retaliation for Meng’s detention, according to Craig Allen, the president of the US-China Business Council.
“If we don’t recognize that as a possible signal to American interests and to American businesses, then we would be willfully blind,” he says.
In an unusual and controversial move, the Canadian government detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer to electronics giant Huawei. The arrest took place as Meng was changing planes on December 1st, in Vancouver, at the request of the United States.
Washington is requesting the extradition of Meng so she can face charges of Huawei using a shell company to sell electronic equipment to Iran, against the terms set forth by the US sanctions against Iran. The US also alleges that Huawei, under Meng’s leadership, misled American banks about the business it conducts with Iran.
The Chinese government called the US ambassador to Beijing to register its anger over the detention, insisting that Canada release Weng and the US cancel the order for her arrest.
The official Chinese news agency Xinhua News Agency said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng “lodged solemn representations and strong protests” with Ambassador Terry Branstad. The Chinese government also summoned the Canadian Ambassador John McCallum, telling him that there would be “grave consequences” if Meng is not released.
One of Canada’s provinces, British Columbia, said it was cancelling a trade mission
scheduled to visit China due to the detention of Meng. There is a fear that the Chinese will retaliate against Canada and arrest Canadians in kind.
The Graduate Management Admission Council released findings which show that the number of applicants to US business schools declined by 7% in 2018. Most of that drop comes from international applications which showed a 10.5% shrinkage. Domestic applications also dropped, but by only 1.8%.
Making up the slack are Canadian and European business programs, which showed strong growth from international students.
Among the schools facing a smaller number of applicants are such top MBA programs as Wharton and Harvard, a reflection that young professionals are hesitant to leave their jobs to go back to school.
The steep downturn in international applications is most likely due to the more stringent visa requirements for foreign students to enter the US on student, or any other kind, of visa. In contrast business schools in Europe, Canada and Asia Pacific all had sizable growth in their number of MBA applicants.
“Demand for graduate management education is stable year over year,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. “However, there are significant regional variations. Non-U.S. programs continue to thrive, highlighting the continued emergence of enhanced educational and professional opportunities outside the United States.”
The trend is not only caused by “a disruptive American political environment,” but also by the growth of excellent MBA programs outside the borders of the USA. Non-US citizens are more often looking into educational and professional opportunities outside the USA.
Angered by US laws requiring that meat sold to consumers be labeled with the name of country to animal was born, grown and killed, Canada and Mexico won a formal complaint they had lodged with the World Trade Organization against the US requirements.
Mexico and Canada say these rules discriminate against imported meat, and are threatening to take steps to retaliate in what could become a full-blown trade war.
“Our governments will be seeking authorization from the WTO to take retaliatory measures against U.S. exports,” stated the Mexican and Canadian ministers for trade and agriculture.
Canada has already published a list of potential products to target for trade sanctions, such as wine, chocolate, ketchup and cereal. Mexico has not released a similar list, yet.
The beef and pork industries in Canada point to the fact that the US restrictions increase their expenses, reducing livestock exports. They say they have lost an estimated $1 billion a year in revenue as a result of this law.
Michael Conaway the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture would like to see Congress do something fast.
“It is more important now than ever to act quickly to avoid a protracted trade war with our two largest trade partners,” Conaway said.
Republicans have a majority in the Congress, but they will most likely come up against a strong Democratic response to leave the labeling regulations in place. The top Democrat in the Committee on Agriculture, Collin Peterson, said he would oppose a change in the law. He added that he believes there are still steps that can be taken at the WTO before making any big changes.
The focus of the dispute is a law enacted in 2009 that requires retail outlets to label meat and pork in a way that gives consumers more information about the safety and the origin of the meat they purchase and eat.
Get Ready Canada
In Canada, Coca-Cola is going through a change. It is getting being prepped for summer with its new colored cans. According to a recent article in Marketing Mag this move began a couple of weeks ago and has the cans being sold with a cool “thermosensitive ink” which reacts when the temperature of the can is “cold enough to drink.”
According to the beverage’s Quebec brand’s marketing manager, Denis Fertlatte, the reason for this new marketing strategy is as follows: “The summer season is very important for both the soft drink and beer industries. We need to stand out and innovate to grab consumers’ attention and interest. Moreover, summer, with its warm and sunny weather, is the time to focus on the refreshing aspect of our product. So we came up with this new can.”
Coca-Cola Copy Cat?
There has been however, some slight criticism about the move; that this strategy has been used by other beverages already. But Ferlatte argued that even though the same technique was indeed being used he insisted that Coca-Cola Canada was “neither in the same category or targeting the same clientele, so we’re not worried about the comparison.”
This cool idea is to be found on a 335 ml can of coke in which a “white class Coke bottle turns red when the liquid reaches 8 degrees Celsius.” But get in there fast since these will only be for sale until Labour Day.