Written by Andrew Siciliano and Elizabeth Shingler, KPMG, LLP
Determining accurate customs values for your imported goods can help prevent leaving money on the table.
Determining accurate customs values for your imported goods can help prevent leaving money on the table.
International SOS is in the business of saving lives and protecting global workforces from health and security threats. We deliver customized health and security risk management as well as well-being solutions to fuel growth and productivity around the world.
When the global coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, business travel tumbled and organizations rapidly pulled back their people, closed their offices and went virtual. International SOS quickly pivoted to programs that provide the same benefits to travelers but for domestic employees as well.
MITA interviewed Dr. William Hauptman to learn what he and International SOS have done to supporting their clients to normal operations and future travels.
MITA: How are current events affecting your business and international trade?
Right now, our clients remain primarily concerned with the global COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to address their challenges and help them navigate through this uncertain time by keeping them up to date on the latest news, information, and travel restrictions. On top of that, we are supporting their return to normal operations and future travels.
MITA: What have been your biggest challenges over the past year and how are you handling them?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it, bringing a laser-focus to the fact that employees are an organization’s biggest asset. At International SOS we assist our clients in meeting their Duty of Care for their employees and the past year has created some additional challenges in assisting in even routine cases. While many businesses were unprepared for this pandemic, International SOS has vast experience in assisting during pandemics (SARS, Ebola, zika, etc.). Additionally, our medical, security, and global team has always ensured that we have network providers to be able to set up and help our clients during a crisis, even on a massive scale as we have seen over the past year.
For example, prior to COVID-19 most medical evacuations were done to the closest center for medical excellence, while today we typically have to bring a traveler or expatriate assignee back to their home country. That often means a longer flight, more legs, additional crews, paperwork and logistics. Additionally, we need to coordinate isolation chambers, proper PPE, receiving care, and back-up plans that are much more complex than they were in the past.
In the wake of COVID-19 international business travel dropped off; however, we have seen a steady rise in cases over the past 12 months due to increased health and security threats. There is no longer a “routine” business trip and we have seen a 10-fold increase utilization of our services from clients. In 2020 we received over 4 million assistance calls. We assisted with over 73,000 COVID-19 related cases, performed 246 air ambulance movements for COVID-19 patients & 631 for other patients. We operated 32 charter flights with 2,000 passengers.
Our clients came to us with new requests daily and our unique business model allowed us to respond quickly. We augmented our assistance network with 1,108 COVID-19 testing facilities across 135 countries. Through 1,100 health & security consulting engagements we provided bespoke advice on how to address health & security challenges and how to keep clients’ workforce productive.
MITA: What motivated you to become a sponsor of our Sept event?
International SOS has been a constant supporter of education and giving industry leaders the tools they need to do business, especially during challenging times. We enjoy sharing our medical and security expertise with members of groups like Madison Trade Association.
MITA: What is one thing (something) you would like people to know about your company? Or what is something unique that people wouldn’t normally know about your company?
International SOS is known for helping clients abroad, but we are also involved in helping numerous clients’ domestic employees.
During last year’s California wildfires International SOS supported clients by locating food, water and temporary housing for workers and their families who were affected.
Additionally, during the ice storm and power outages in Texas in February International SOS fielded requests for assistance that included receipt, coordination and delivery of food, water, emergency supplies; hotel reservations and ground transportation as well as coordination with clients on the identification and manner of distribution to individuals and locations. International SOS also provided advice on personal resilience measures, including how to stay healthy and safe during prolonged power outages in extreme cold weather, and security guidance on transportation and lodging.
Support of clients included assistance of 467 personnel and 6 animals supported, 12 requests for assistance specific to Texas (ie food, water, supplies) and same day and next-day missions that delivered to central points of distribution and/or individual households as requested.
March 2021 trade data reflect a full year’s impact of the COVID-10 pandemic. Disruption of supply chains, reduced airfreight capacity, and impacts on workforce all effecting Wisconsin’s international trade but exports are showing signs of strength.
Wisconsin businesses exported a total of $5,700,864,222 worth of products in the first quarter of 2021, 5.41% more than first quarter of 2020. The value of Wisconsin’s monthly March exports grew by 15.93% compared to February, the highest monthly total since March 2019. Five out of the last seven years, March has been the month with the largest dollar value of exports. Total U.S. exports grew by just 1.89% during the same period.
Of Wisconsin’s top 10 export destinations, only the United Kingdom (#8) and Australia (#9) saw declines. Wisconsin’s exports to Canada grew to their highest monthly level since May of 2018, $669.9 million.
Wisconsin’s top export categories as compared to 2020 saw industrial machinery down by 5.32%, medical and scientific instruments up by 3.66%, electrical machinery exports down by 2.99%, and vehicles and vehicle parts experienced the 2nd largest dollar volume increase of $53.9 million or 197.8%.
Data onagricultural and food products exports appear in multiple categories. Added together into a single super-category, they total $912 million in first quarter 2021. That places it right after the #1 export category of industrial machinery. This super-category grew by 13.89% between the first quarter of 2020 and the same period in 2021.
Wisconsin’s imports grew by 21.89% in the first quarter and totaled $7.6 billion The #1 category, industrial machinery, was up by 31.59% followed by pharmaceuticals, which grew by 55.71%.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has more export data https://wedc.org/export/wisconsin-export-data/
Learn about target export markets from the Global Trade & Investment team at WEDC https://wedc.org/export/market-intelligence/
When you think of human trafficking and what freight forwarding companies can do to help young women in faraway places, you think of donating money for the cause, perhaps. Well, our MITA sponsor, LR International (LRI), decided to go further, by teaming up and combining forces with a U.S.-based charity organization named “Free the Girls”.
LR International, a freight forwarding company, uses its resources and knowledge to help the “Free the Girls” organization with the warehousing and shipping needs of donated goods. Donated goods are used by young women for resale, to help them start small businesses, and, as a result, learn new ways of living. LR international works with this charity to distribute goods today, to areas as far as Mozambique, El Salvador, Costa Rica and soon Mexico.
MITA is pleased to announce LR International as the Event Sponsor AND one of the two speakers of our April 13th event, entitled: Less Risk, More Rewards: Insuring against the Risk of International Trade.
LR International’s knowledge of international risk management, through offering a wide range of services over the years, will help anyone who attends the event, to grow their business with confidence. LR International is the mid-west freight forwarding company, highly experienced in worldwide logistics and cargo management, warehousing and distribution, packing and crating, handling of hazardous material, cargo insurance, letter of credit negotiations, export financing, and consulting on all aspects of exporting and importing including compliance training, and more… For over 25 years they had partnered with the State of Illinois International Export Assistance Offices in providing pro-bono counseling for Illinois exporters. They have also been recognized by the federal government for efforts in promoting international trade, by being appointed to the Illinois District Export Council.
MITA interviewed Paul to see what he and the LR International (LRI) have learned as they adjusted to big demand changes coupled with big supply chain challenges.
MITA: So how are things going, Paul? How are current events affecting your business and international trade?
LRI: The global trade picture in the area of logistics and supply chain which is our business has been quite a mess due to COVID. We have many challenges today we never thought were possible. The bad news is, we have to make our way through the mud. The good news is, this experience has taught us to plan with the attitude of literally ANYTHING can happen and that is making our organization even that much better for the future.
MITA: What have been your biggest challenges over the past year and how are you handling them?
LRI: The past year has brought a combination of keeping employees safe and finding ways to keep doing our business even though the world changed almost overnight due to COVID. We have handled it the way we always handle challenges, double down on the effort and planning and get to work. Our organization is emerging from the COVID-era stronger and better prepared than we were before it.
MITA: What motivated LR International to become a sponsor?
LRI: We are committed to the MITA programming and believe MITA is an important source for guidance and help to Midwestern exporters and importers.
MITA: We are very grateful for LR International’s support! What are you hoping to gain from your MITA involvement in the year ahead?
LRI: MITA is a fantastic Trade Organization. The learning content is very relevant to our business because “International” is what we do. Networking in the past and soon to be again in the future has been really valuable because the professionals who are members of MITA are the “roll up your sleeve” kind of people and that practical “get it done” mentality has helped my company on many occasion.
At this time last year, the world had come to a stand-still—streets were empty, lockdowns in place, and we were just beginning to get our arms wrapped around the impact of COVID-19. Few could have anticipated that staying at home would actually put more pressure on the global supply chain. Now, well into 2021, global trade has become more of a hot topic than it ever has been bringing to light the fragility of the supply chain and the challenges that lie ahead in our industry.
At M.E. Dey, a global view is always imperative for us when it comes to looking at the year ahead. Economies around the world are reopening at various speeds and even locking back down in the cases of Europe and India. These factors make the rest of this year almost as unpredictable as the Ever Given running aground in Suez. The port congestion we are seeing is an economic traffic jam. The ripple effect of a traffic jam takes time to recover and there is no exception to global trade. Here in the United States, the economy is reheating at a record rate and the demand for overseas goods isn’t slowing fueled by stimulus spending, factories in need of supplies, and the Peloton you ordered a whole two months ago.
Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka said, “I have not witnessed a sustained import surge of this magnitude in all my years in the industry.” There is currently an average of 30 container ships stuck outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to dump their cargo. Some are saying the bottleneck might be the U.S. citing slow container offloading, jammed product warehouses, scarce availability on air/rail, and the lack of a 24/7 work environment like in parts of Asia. In addition, President Biden said in his March 31st infrastructure plan fact sheet, “Our ports and waterways need repair and reimagination.” While any of these may pose an issue, one weak link will always have an impact across the entire supply chain.
Outside of the U.S., delays caused by the Suez Canal blockage are actually forcing carriers to skip port calls. According to the South China Morning Post, “in Europe, carriers have begun skipping port calls to avoid congestion and loading only empty containers before heading back to Asia, where containers are in high demand for exports and business is most lucrative because of record freight rates.” Because of this, container capacity has been greatly reduced—ships aren’t stopping where they should be stopping, which includes picking up empties onshore.
So, we clearly realize that there is a slowdown. What does this mean for supply chains now and for the rest of this year? We can anticipate that global trade congestion will last through 2021 around the globe. One item to keep an eye out for is the start of the new contract year in May for annual freight negotiations, which could be priced significantly higher. On a lighter note, there may be some easing with the mass vaccine rollout and consumers willing to spend more on services rather than goods. That said, businesses should plan accordingly accounting for delays and higher freight rates due to container and space availability. M.E. Dey is working around the clock with our freight vendors shopping for the best rates for our clients. In addition, we have implemented new technology through our ediWebTracker allowing clients to keep track of their freight in real-time.
While the current port congestion around the globe is unprecedented and challenging, we hope it serves as an opportunity to assess the fragility of the global supply chain and work to improve efficiency in every corner of our industry.
The Wisconsin District Export Council is a 2021 Annual Sponsor of MITA. We interviewed the Council’s President, Chad Hoffman, and asked him to share who DEC is and how the synergies between DEC and MITA can be accelerated.
The Wisconsin District Export Council (DEC) contributes and supports MITA and others by educating the “export” community within the U.S. DEC encourages, teaches and supports individual companies in their journey to start or grow exports of their goods or services. Taking advantage of the DEC’s FREE resources (yes, FREE!) and DEC’s volunteer trade professionals allows many US companies develop export sales that stimulate U.S. economic growth.
MITA: We often ask our sponsors what values and benefits MITA brings to their organizations. With DEC, however, the better question may be, “What benefits does DEC bring to MITA’s members?”
DEC: Three numbers come to mind – 665, 27, and 37. Wisconsin District Export Council members bring a total of 665 years of international experience to the group, averaging 26.8 years each, with much of that time in International Sales and Marketing. With nearly every member claiming at least one additional language in addition to English, DEC members also have direct experience in an average of 36.8 countries. The benefit to MITA members having [FREE!] access to this experience is immeasurable.
MITA: How are current events affecting business and international trade?
DEC: “Distraction” more than anything. There are so many issues coming at people both at work and at home that being able to stay focused is a skill in itself.
MITA: What have been your biggest challenges and how are you handling them?
DEC: We continue to repeat the message that trade = opportunity. Sometimes we are cheerleaders, sometimes educators, but always, we help companies fight the fear of the unknown. Even while the number and percentage of companies that export grows, data also shows that companies often export only a few times, stopping after encountering shipment delays, or payment and other unforeseen issues when exporting their goods. Creating an export program will take time and persistence, but the reward can be greater than anyone can predict.
MITA: What motivated DEC to become a sponsor?
DEC: It is core to our members’ beliefs that the United States can be competitive in the global marketplace, bringing innovation and quality to people who are seeking high quality goods and services anywhere. DEC’s free resources and training are available to anyone, at anytime and at no cost! Each DEC professional has been recognized for their real world expertise in international trade, and their areas of focus can provide an extended list of resources for any exporting company within the United States.
MITA: What are you looking forward to when some semblance of “normal” returns? What’s on your bucket list?
DEC: I’d like to walk on the Great Wall of China with my wife, whom I met in Spain during my extensive travel experiences. I’d also highly recommend that your readers consider visiting the Cíes Islands, an archipelago off the western coast of Spain, just north of Portugal. They are known for their fine white sandy beaches and clear waters. Be warned, though – you will find no cars, hotels nor nightlife there, just gorgeous views and total relaxation.
The Board of Directors of the Madison International Trade Association (MITA) appointed a new president this month.
Jay P. Nash, Principal, Nash Global Trade Services (NGTS), will lead the association until the end of 2020. Jay was elected to the MITA Board in 2018 and has since served on the Programming and Marketing Committees, in addition to helping champion MITA’s annual trade compliance event. He has worked in the field of international trade compliance for 15 years with experience in over dozens of countries.
Nash replaces Katy Sinnott, Vice President of International Business Development with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), who is now part of the team helping the state of Wisconsin move forward in light of COVID-19. Sinnott will continue to serve on the MITA Board in an advisory capacity.
“I am honored to have been appointed by the Board to serve as President; I join the Board and the entire MITA membership in thanking Katy for her leadership not only of MITA but of the Wisconsin business community,” Nash said. “Following Katy’s good example, my fellow Board Members and I will ensure that MITA is an invaluable resource for its members, the state, and the region as we work together to re-open our economy.”
MITA plans to resume its programming with a series of webinars starting in June while continuing to provide information on international trade and platforms to connect with those engaged in it. “Supply chains may shift, and businesses may need to operate in different ways as a result of what we have experienced,” said Nash, “but in all cases, international trade will continue to be a critical part of local, national, and global economic growth, and in my view, organizations like MITA are needed more than ever.”
Many words have been used to describe the global pandemic that continues to impact our world. But, one word that could sum up the situation is – disruption.
The members of the MITA Board are working tirelessly during the Covid-19 pandemic to help businesses, both theirs and others, navigate this “new normal” and minimize the disruption to our lives and business.
Now more than ever, our international trade community needs the expertise, connections and advice that the MITA board members can provide. Consider the MITA board members as your resource now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, and into the future.
MITA board member contacts and their respective services are listed below.
On behalf of the entire MITA board of directors, we wish you and yours safety, health and peace.
WI STATE RESOURCES, INTERNATIONAL TRADE SUPPORT
GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN, LOGISTICS, FREIGHT FORWARDING AND CUSTOMS BROKERAGE
INTERNATIONAL AUDIT TAX & ACCOUNTING
INTERNATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT, LIABLITY AND INSURANCE
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SUPPORT, IMMIGRATION AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMPLIANCE
INTERNATIONAL SALES, MARKETING AND MANUFACTURING
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MITA is a Madison, Wisconsin-based organization with the simple goal to connect and provide global know-how and resources to its members. MITA provides international trade information to the organizations and individuals looking to expand their international reach. From trade agreements to export documentation to economic trends and prevailing world issues, MITA keeps its members “in the know.”