international trade

Stateside
5:55 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

How has NAFTA affected Michigan?

President Bill Clinton signing the North American Free Trade Agreement into Law. Al Gore is pictured besides him.
White House

It’s been 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. It drastically changed the economic relationship between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

While signing the bill into law, then-President Clinton said, “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs.”

So, let’s spend the next little while taking stock of NAFTA, and what it’s meant particularly to Michigan, it’s economy, the auto industry, and the state’s workers.

Patrick Anderson, the CEO of the Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group, and Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California Berkeley who specializes in labor and the global economy joined us today. 

Economy
4:51 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

"Port Lansing" open for business

Its an empty warehouse now. But Capitol Region Airport Authority officials are hopeful the Port Lansing Global Logistics Centre will attract millions of dollars in private investment and attract international business
Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing airport officials say a new expansion will help spur international business in mid-Michigan.

Capitol Region Airport officials officially opened their new “Port Lansing” foreign trade zone today. Goods that come into the trade zone are exempt from customs tariffs and merchandise that's shipped from the zones is exempt from duty payments.

Robert Selig is the president of the Capitol Region Airport Authority. He says the foreign trade zone designation will give mid-Michigan businesses a chance to get involved in international trade.

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Economy
6:23 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Governor Snyder planning another trade mission to Asia

Governor Rick Snyder said this afternoon his office is planning a trade mission to Asia. 

Governor Snyder went on an 8-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan last fall. He says two new economic investments – one in Ann Arbor and one in Saginaw – are a direct result of that trip. Now he’s planning to go back to Asia to strengthen business ties there.

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Auto/Economy
1:59 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Ford opens new $450 million plant in Thailand

Ford's new plant in Rayong, Thailand.
Ford

Ford Motor Company celebrated the official opening of its Ford Thailand Manufacturing (FTM) plant in Rayong, Thailand. It's the company's second plant in Thailand.

The $450 million passenger vehicle manufacturing plant "will serve as the foundation for Ford’s plan to introduce eight new vehicles to the ASEAN region by mid-decade," according to a company press release.

The ASEAN region includes the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and VietNam.

Ford officials said no other auto company has invested more in Thailand over the last five years:

“The opening of this new, world-class facility is the latest example in our aggressive growth plan for this region, which represents Ford’s largest industrial expansion in half-a-century,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “The world-class One Ford vehicles produced here will be part of our plan to launch 50 new vehicles and powertrains in Asia Pacific and Africa by mid-decade.”

Ford officials said the new facility in Thailand includes "one of the world's fastest stamping presses, and the latest in automotive manufacturing robot technologies. The plant is capable of producing 6 different vehicles simultaneously.

This allows the company to bring new vehicles to market faster, and test new vehicles while maintaining full production speed.

 

The company released this video of the plant:

Michigan and China
9:07 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan and China: A roundup of our stories

The Chinese flag.
Philip Jagenstedt Flickr

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has been reporting recently on a series of stories about Michigan's evolving relationship with China.

From cars to crops to hats, these sometimes unusual Chinese connections could have a big impact on the state's economic future.

Here is a brief roundup, in case you missed any of the stories.

October 11: Selling American cars, China-style

Chinese dealerships with their aggressive sales staffs, shiny floors, and canned music may evoke their American counterparts, but Tracy Samilton says U.S. automakers are trying to cash in on China's booming demand for cars by tailoring their approach to suit local tastes and attitudes.

From working to maintain a solid brand reputation (the opinions of family and colleagues is probably the most important factor for Chinese car buyers), to explaining features to inexperienced drivers, Detroit car companies are betting on China as a key to their futures.

October 11: Tiny cars to tackle big problems

Megacities like Beijing and Shanghai already struggle with dense smog and days-long traffic jams clogging roads and highways, but  China's voracious appetite for cars and steadily increasing urban population only promise to make things worse.

Tracy Samilton reports that, among other solutions, General Motors' China division is experimenting with small electric vehicles that seat two, roll on two wheels, and can drive themselves, not to mention take up one fifth the parking space needed for a regular car.

October 14: Ford and the case of the Chinese official's hat

While Ford is currently working hard to be a top competitor the Chinese auto market, they lag behind other international automakers including General Motors.

Tracy Samilton tells us that part of the reason for this gap can be traced back to hats.

More specifically, in the early 1990s, Ford lost out on a contract to supply Chinese officials with a fleet of limousines because the unusual body shape of the Taurus knocked the hats right of the dignitaries' heads.

October 23: Exchanging students and changing perspectives

Engineering students in Shanghai and Ann Arbor are learning more than what is printed in their textbooks thanks to a University of Michigan Joint Institute program that sends Michigan students to study in China and brings Chinese students here to do the same.

Students from both sides of the program told Tracy Samilton about local hospitality, the allure of college football, and that a big part of the experience is about learning from their host culture and not just in the classroom.

November 7: From Michigan's fields to Chinese dinner tables

Detroit cars are certainly a major component in Michigan's economic connection with China, but as Tracy Samilton reports, there is also an increasing Chinese demand for Michigan crops and other food products.

Chinese livestock producers use Michigan grown soybeans and wheat as feed, but consumers are also developing a taste for Michigan foods from blueberries to cereal to baby food, bolstered in part by U.S. safety and quality standards.

November 8: Pure Michigan in China?

Both the Michigan tourism industry and the state capitol are hoping to make Michigan a destination for international tourists, especially for those  from China.

While some, including Governor Snyder have big plans to attract Chinese visitors by showcasing Michigan's natural beauty and automotive history, others say that most Chinese people probably haven't even heard of Michigan, and as Tracy Samilton reports, bad translations are not helping.

And an audio documentary...

As a way to bring these stories together, a team of Michigan Radio producers created an audio documentary on the Michigan-China connection that features content from all of these stories along with interviews with Kenneth Lieberthal, the Director of the John L. Thornton China Center, Wei Shen, Managing Director of Bridge Connect, and Rebecca Linland, the Director of Automotive Research at HIS Automotive.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Auto/Economy
2:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

The Michigan-China Connection (an audio documentary)

Cars, agriculture, tourism, it’s all fair game for people who want Michigan to tap into the Chinese market.

But what does that really mean and who really stands to benefit?

Governor Rick Snyder recently led a Michigan delegation to China.

He says strong economic ties between Michigan and what is now the world’s fastest growing economy are essential to Michigan’s economic growth.

Part 1

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Trade Mission
5:25 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Michigan Governor Snyder pleased with results of his first trade mission

Governor Rick Snyder said he will return to China in the next year, after completing his first trade mission in that country.

In the meantime, he said there’s a lot of follow-up to do in Michigan, to develop brand-new relationships with Chinese business leaders.

Governor Snyder spent a day in Beijing, the Chinese capital, and a day in Shanghai, the country’s international commerce center.

He said he was pleasantly surprised at how interested Chinese business leaders seem in closer business ties with Michigan. He said one possibility is getting Chinese mining companies, who want to expand overseas, to take a look at mining copper and other deposits in the U.P.

"It’s another export from our state, and the main thing is we do it in an environmentally conscious way and we put in the structure to do that," said Snyder.

Governor Snyder also highlighted his new “Global Michigan Initiative,” which he says should help create jobs in the state.

The initiative is designed to encourage talented immigrants to settle in Michigan.

The Global Michigan Initiative began two months ago.

While speaking in Shanghai, Snyder said the initiative will expand over the next few years to include cultural programs, more trade missions, and a visa program.

"There are a number of states that are unfortunately discouraging immigration, and I believe it should be the opposite, and the empirical support is there by encouraging immigration you actually create jobs for people in your community," said Snyder. " It’s a job creator."

The Governor is now on his way to South Korea, after a two-day stay in China.

This is Snyder’s first trade mission, and he says it was easier to make a pitch for the state’s positive business environment than he expected.

That’s because some of the Chinese business leaders he met with had already done some homework on Michigan.

"The most pleasant surprise was just the positive response of people in China and businesses in particular, that many of them are seriously looking at Michigan already as a good place to do business, and I was happy to see that they mentioned tax reform is a good reason for them to come, having a balanced budget is a major item," said Snyder.

The Governor will be in Seoul next, where he will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Governor of  Gyeonggi Province. The agreement states that Michigan and the Province will work together to establish trade.

Snyder will return to Michigan on Saturday.

Politics
11:52 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Republican leaders say a bridge vote will happen this fall

The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are waging a multi-million dollar ad campaign against a second, publicly-owned bridge.
Jim Wallace Flickr

State Republican leaders say they hope to move forward in October with a proposal to build a publically owned second bridge between Detroit and Canada.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley says a second bridge would benefit businesses throughout the state.

"Those entities that make things here, be they automobiles, furniture, chemicals, cereal or baby food or even Slinkys, all these things we make in Michigan, and agricultural products as well, Canadians buy more of that than anybody else in the world," said Calley.

He says a publically owned bridge that connects major highways on both sides of the river would keep exports streaming into Canada from Michigan.

Calley was on Mackinac Island over the weekend for a Michigan Republican Party conference.

He lobbied for the bridge project while there saying the bridge project is a conservative one that will be attractive to Republicans and Democrats alike.

The proposal has been unpopular with some Republicans who think a second bridge should be built by a private company. The owner of the existing bridge in Detroit was also at the Michigan Republican Party conference on Mackinac Island to try to influence lawmakers oppose a publically owned bridge.

Calley says he and Governor Rick Snyder are not deterred by campaigning against the project by the company that owns the existing bridge in Detroit.

"[We're] making very steady progress and feel good about the track that it's on right now," said Calley. "It's really always been more a matter of getting through all of the garbage on the TV ads, and simply articulating what the proposal is."

Calley says one of the biggest hurdles they face is countering the influence of the multi-million dollar ad campaign. The campaign is paid for by the owners of the existing Ambassador Bridge.

Politics
7:39 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Snyder scheduled to make first international trip as governor

Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI)
Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Governor Snyder will travel to Asia late next month. “Snyder's office said Monday the Republican governor is expected to arrive in Tokyo on Sept. 25. The trip is expected to include stops in Japan, China and South Korea. Snyder is scheduled to return to Michigan on Oct. 1. The international trade trip would be Snyder's first as governor,” the Associated Press reports.

Geralyn Lasher, the Governor’s Communications Director, told the Detroit News that the Governor will be, “talking to … businesses about why investment in our state is such a sound idea.” From the News:

Snyder is to be accompanied by MEDC CEO Mike Finney, Agriculture Director Keith Creagh and four economic development officials, MEDC spokesman Mike Shore said. He could not provide a cost estimate for the trip, but said no general fund money would be used. Airfare will be paid by the Michigan Economic Development Foundation, supported by donations, and other costs will be paid by the group's corporate funds, most of which come from a tax on American Indian casinos, he said.

Snyder is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Sept. 25 for the 43rd annual joint meeting of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association and the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association. He also plans to meet with Michigan-based companies in Beijing, attend trade-related functions in Shanghai and travel to Seoul before leaving for home on Oct. 1.