An Overview of the U.S. Trade Systems and Trade Agreements Through the Years

Close up of businessmen shaking hands. Global network and a world map in the foreground. block chain concept.

As you sit in front of a screen and read these words, there are millions of goods and products being transported across borders. Many of the products we encounter every day have a long and arduous journey from where they are manufactured to the shelves of our stores. Trade impacts our economy in a significant way, and it’s why over the years we have seen changes to the way the country approaches its trade policies and why it has become a hot-button issue in elections and during difficult economic times. 

The U.S Constitution grants Congress the power of trade activities between foreign countries. Trade within states is regulated and overseen by the states themselves. Over the decades, the United States went from a far more protectionist nation to one that embraced free trade and emphasized its benefits. 

From Protectionism to Expansion of Imports and Exports

The state of U.S. trade policy has evolved since the Great Depression. The country’s views and needs have grown and shifted dramatically since then. Tariffs and dutiable imports reached 60%. There was no central organization that oversaw the changes that occurred in trade across the globe, so many local laws were shielded from understanding the bigger picture.

Before the Great Depression, the U.S was far more isolationist in both its trade policy and foreign policy, but the 20th century had its plans for America and the rest of the world, and events that transpired shifted the American approach to trade to a far more open policy. 

It Begins with a Little Act Called Smoot-Hawley

The U.S was in dire straits in an attempt to fix the domestic economic situation, so Congress had to make moves to remedy this by finding ways to grow the economy and get things moving again. The tariff act raised duties on over 20,000 imported goods and may not have had the effect desired. This led many U.S trading partners to step back and cause a reduction in total U.S trade volumes. Many historians argue that the Smoot-Hawley act deepened the Great Depression. 

Not long after, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Reciprocal Tariff Act, which gave the President authority to negotiate reciprocal trade agreements. Around this time tariffs were reduced with 21 countries, which helped spur economic growth. Of course, it wasn’t until WWII, that U.S production and manufacturing boomed. After the war, GATT was signed. This was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. 

The Trade Act of 1974, addressed many concerns for U.S trading companies that were seeing themselves as unable to complete with unjust import competition. This law imposed adequate procedures to help protect the American industry amidst a growing and exponentially more complex international market. 

In 1995, the World Trade Organization replaced GATT and helped a surge of free trade agreements after the Cold War. In this era, the percentage that was subject to tariffs dropped from 65% in 1990 to about 30% in 2017. 

President Reagan’s Impact on Trade in the Late 20th Century 

President Ronald Reagan helped continue to push the move towards more free trade. As a stalwart proponent of conservative policies, Reagan understood that opening up trade for America meant increasing opportunities. In 1988, Reagan gave a radio address about the virtues of having a free trade society and the economic and social benefits that this provided a society. He pointed to the pattern of free nations and their prosperity after imposing free trade laws and allowing for more freedom in the import and export realm.

Reagan declared “We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war against our friends, weakening our economy, our national security, and the entire free world all while cynically waving the American flag. The expansion of the international economy is not a foreign invasion. It is an American triumph.” 

It was this mode of thinking that continued a trend towards a trade policy that made the international exchange of goods more accessible. 

The Complexities of the Ever-Changing Trade Industry 

Developing a product to ship to international markets is a long and hard journey with plenty of steps and hurdles to overcome. It’s not always easy, as there are competing interests, politics, changing regulations from every angle. It’s a fast-moving industry that must adapt to the conditions and regulations of other countries, as well as changing economic and cultural trends.

As international markets and nations see ups and downs and changes in their administrations and leaderships, those changes are reflected in the policies and regulations imposed on importers and exporters. A customs broker is a middleman that does the heavy lifting when it comes to researching and following these changing rules. 

Stay on Top of The Changing Trends in Trade Policy with a Trusted Customs Broker

As a customs broker, Cordova Brokerage takes care of doing the leg work in ensuring you are in compliance with your import or exports to and from the U.S. We are here to provide accurate service and facilitate the difficulty in maneuvering U.S trade restrictions and law. 

Contact a reliable customs broker at Cordova today for questions regarding imports and exports. 

 

The Many Roles of a Customs Brokerage: Importing, Paperwork, & Clearance

A businessman selecting a Customs Concept button on a clear screen.

A customs broker is a type of middleman. They are facilitators. Experts on laws and regulations that are ever-changing and shifting. A customs broker represents the interests of the United States as it relates to the importation and exportation of goods across international waters and borders. Here at Cordova Customs Brokers, we thought we’d take a moment to explain the day in the life of a customs broker, what we do, what we’re responsible for, and why it’s important to go with the one you trust. 

To put it simply, a customs broker works with importers and exporters of goods. Everything that comes in through this country’s borders must be documented and follow what we call compliance. We get shipments cleared through customs and other agencies that might need to get involved with shipments. There are thousands of shipments that come in each day, as the relative size of imports has grown from 10% of GDP in the early 1990s to 15% in 2017. 

Why Do Importers Need a Customs Broker?

Bringing goods into the United States, or any other country might seem simple on its face. In reality, each country has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to bringing in goods from other countries. As it is stated by Customs, “When a normal ‘entry of merchandise’ is made under the provisions of 19 U.S.C the required information and documentation is required to be filled or electronically transmitted by the “importer of record.”

As customs brokers, we work for the ‘importer of record.’ They are our clients and we represent their interests in successfully getting their goods into the United States in order to do business. The United States has regulations as well and it can make importing goods a little more complicated. A customs broker navigates the complicated process for you, getting through the paperwork, compliance, and dealing with various agencies on your behalf. 

These shipments include everything from crabmeat to squeaky toys for dogs, children’s toys, shrimp, and more. 

The process of customs brokerage existed as early as the 1850s when an importer or consignee endorsed the bill of lading over to a tradesman. These tradesmen were called ‘customhouse brokers.’ In the beginning, these brokers would sign the merchandise with their name instead of the original consignee but it led to many problems. This issue was resolved with the Customs Regulations of 1857 and the beginning of what were to be many new changes to the way we do imports. 

What is the Process of Importation like? 

It depends on whether shipments are coming through by air, water, or land. As a general overview, however, the process is relatively similar. When we work with an importer, we get the information we need and input it into specialized software that will sort through the information and send it to Customs and Border Protection. So, for example, if there is a shipment coming in, we do the paperwork and preliminary clearance before they get to the designated terminal. If the product needs to be approved by another agency like the FDA, this needs to be done as well. When the shipment comes in, it will be cleared in their computer system and the goods will be good to enter and be released to whoever is going to pick them up from there. 

Today, it is all done electrically. Technology has certainly given our job a major advantage and speeded up the process of importation in the last couple of decades. 

On any given day, a customs broker that works with importers will see any number of different types of goods. Shipments will come in carrying food like shrimp, crabmeat, and other delicacies, toys from cheap toys to more commercially popular ones, clothes, and more. Many shipments come in from China, as one of our biggest importers. One interesting tidbit here is that shrimp is actually a big import. Thousands of people in the United States consume a lot of shrimp each day. 

What is the advantage of working with a customs broker? 

As we mentioned earlier, we act as a kind of middleman that facilitates the process between various entities and agencies. Most importers are business people who want to keep to the business they are in and are not interested in being backlogged with a bunch of paperwork and confusing regulations. This is where we come in. We take care of all the legal stuff so their shipments will have no problems at the border, so they will be cleared, and ready to continue with the business of making money. 

We take care of:

  • Clearing goods through customs 
  • Making sure those goods reach their destinations
  • Calculate duty or tariff payments owed
  • Compile and fill out necessary documentation like invoices, certificates, and cargo-control documents
  • Keep on top of changes in export or import laws and regulations

Are You an Importer Looking to Bring Goods Into the U.S? Call a Trusted Customs Broker

Here at Cordova Customs Brokerage, we have been helping importers do business in the United States for many years. Our brokers are always up to speed with new regulations and changes—as they happen often—and abreast of all necessary compliance guidelines. Call us today for more information. 

A Look at Two of America’s Biggest Exports: Aircraft and Automotive 

Container ship in import export and business logistic. Trade Port. Shipping, cargo to harbor and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise, logistic import export and transport indu

The U.S economy is far less dependent on trade than you might think, even though we do our fair share of trading across the world. In 2019, the total value of all U.S exports accounted for about 11% of GDP. Each state has its dominant industries and you can tell a lot about a state by looking at their major exports. You can tell a lot about a country as well. 

The United States is certainly known for its innovation around the world, and it might be telling that some of our major exports are aircraft and electrical equipment. If you look at it state by state, you’ll find that U.S exports are also incredibly diverse, since the country is vast and each state has different natural resources and leading industries. So we thought we’d take a look at some of the biggest exports of the United States and their histories. 

Many states have major exports that become their staples and embed themselves into the identity of the state. In states like Pennsylvania, for example, coal is the top export. In the great state of Texas, we know that we are an oil-producing state and that is one of our biggest exports. Many might remember the once-upon-a-time football team, the Houston Oilers. 

The Invention of Flight

The story of the Wright brothers is a familiar story of perseverance, brilliance, and hard work. The two grew up together in Dayton, Ohio, always pursuing their curiosity. The two went into the printing business in 1889. Three years later, they opened a bicycle shop. The two built and fixed bicycles for several years before the talk of flying machines began to further spark their curiosity. This experience would be crucial when it came to designing their first flying machine. 

They began with a small kite to test some of their theories regarding control. It took them several attempts to finally break ground with a 12-second flight in 1903. This became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve sustained flight. Just before World War I, the brothers’ 1909 Model A flyer was sold to the U.S Army Corps for $30,000. It was less than a decade that the first airplane was landing on a carrier for military purposes. 

The advancement of aircraft is closely and intricately linked with military operations and needs. The biggest leaps in these innovations happened for defense purposes and were then used in commercial settings. Aerial reconnaissance dates back to even before World War I. The use of observation balloons was the first step to this military tactic, but balloons could only offer so much subtlety. From there, some of the Army’s first flyers began to emerge. One was the Glenn Martin Bomber, a two-engine bomber that could carry up to four crew members and five machine guns.  

That speaks volumes about the innovative spirit and urgency that surrounded the invention of aircraft and airplanes. America’s biggest exporter today is Boeing. They are the world’s largest aerospace company; they assemble commercial airplanes and defense products. As of December 2019, Boeing employed over 143,000 employees.  They are the U.S Defense Department’s biggest contractor. 

The Invention of Automobiles in America 

Nothing has ever been the same since the invention of the internal combustion engine. The first stationary gas engine was invented by Karl Benz in 1879. He is often credited with being the father of the automobile. When it comes to cars in America, we usually think of Ford when we think of early pioneers in the automotive industry. 

Along with Ford, we think of Chrysler and Dodge. All companies that are still standing today. Many people might not be aware, however, that 485 automobile companies entered the industry between 1899-1909, but it was Ford that seemed to surpass them all once he introduced this revolutionary Model N. As Ford introduces the assembly line and mass production begins, there is nothing to stop the mass production that leads to mass consumption and demand of automobiles. 

Today, automobiles totaled a worldwide US$758.4 billion. By value, cars represent the world’s number two exported product by value, behind crude oil and just ahead of electronics. The United States is the number #3 exporters of cars in the world behind Germany and Japan. 

The United States loves its cars. We have many unique companies working on the design and innovative ways to improve the way we drive. The world of electric cars is just getting started and companies like Tesla are here to stay. 

With such a large country, it’s no surprise that we have a great amount of innovation and invention. Here at Cordova Brokerage, we help exports and importers go through the intricate system of customs, warehousing, and more. 

A Look at How Two Major Conflicts Changed America’s Exports 

Container ship in export and import business and logistics. Shipping cargo to harbor by crane. Water transport International. Aerial viewThe United States wasn’t always a powerhouse of exports. For some time after World War I, the U.S maintained a rather isolationist policy and was largely content to produce everything domestically. The first part of the 20th century looked very different in terms of international imports and exports.

Woodrow Wilson once said, “Britain has the earth, and Germany wants it.” A very true premonition of what was to develop throughout the rest of the twentieth century with two major world conflicts that would change the dynamic of international trade forever. So we thought we’d take a historical look at how America became an economic superpower and some of the major events that changed the way we do imports and exports. 

The United States would not enter World War I until after the conflict had been raging for almost three years. President Woodrow Wilson had initially pledged neutrality and it wasn’t until Germany got a little over-aggressive in international waters and sunk American liners like the Lusitania. As America sent its first wave of troops, the balance of power was already tilting from Britain to America.

In 1916, Britain bought more than a quarter of engines for air fleets, more than half of its shell casings, two/thirds of its grains, and almost all of its oil from foreign suppliers. America was the largest. Back in the States, this was slowly giving the American economy a boost and spearheading what would soon turn into a massive mobilization for production, factories, steel mills, and more.

It wasn’t long before American farmers were overproducing to send to Britain’s soldiers, factories were manufacturing to send steel supplies, and more. The economic potential of the United States all of a sudden became too apparent to politicians domestically and abroad. 

As the war raged on, American production became more and more important to the Ally effort. Once the war was over and the world had to sit back and reflect on what it had done and what had happened, international trade and the economy had certainly changed. During the decades between the two world wars, the Great Depression and learned to slowly revitalize its economy. Complex relations between nations would entangle the situation even further as countries like France, Britain, and Germany scrambled to pay off their debt, rebuild their societies, and re-strengthen their economies.  

The Home Front During the Second World War 

It would be about twenty years later that the world would see global conflict once more, but the signs of these changing economic powers began appearing as early as the 1930s when prominent leaders like Winston Churchill took note of Hitler’s economic ambitions. One the war broke out and the United States entered in 1942, the demand for the production of war materials skyrocketed overnight. Because the U.S mainland was not being bombed or invaded, America had its vast lands for production capabilities. 

What had been a steady flow of agricultural exports, for example, shot up and this increase continued for at least forty years. The American farmer was producing goods for people at home and soldiers abroad who needed an incredible amount of supplies and food. Hogs, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and vegetables were the top priorities of the agricultural export industry. 

The United States production during the war was massive and put people that had been out of work for some time right back to work, including women who had largely been discouraged from the workforce in the past. Here are some amazing facts about American production power during this time:

America produced and provided over two/thirds of all the Allied military equipment produced during the war. This included:

    • 297,000 aircraft
    • 193,000 artillery pieces
    • 86,000 tanks
    • 2 million army trucks
    • 41 billion bullets
    • 2.6 million machine guns 

All of this catapulted America into a prominent place in the world’s economy. In 1939, a few years before the war, the U.S was the 39th largest economy. In just a matter of years, it was number one.  

American Exports Today 

Today’s international markets look a lot different than they did following World War II. Slowly but surely all of the devastated countries recovered and regrew their economies. This includes Germany and Japan who had been absolutely devastated both in infrastructure, jobs, loss of population, and not to mention credibility on the world stage. Countries like Britain, however, never fully recovered to the empire status, of course. The United States became a powerhouse economy, driven by innovation and the ability for mass production. Today’s U.S major exports include:

  • Commercial aircraft
  • Industrial machines
  • Semiconductors 
  • Electric apparatus 
  • Telecommunications 
  • Medical equipment 

Even though the international trade landscape has changed in 2020, given the economic impact of things like the pandemic, here at Cordova Brokerage, we continue to support and guide exporters and importers looking to trade in the international markets. Connect with us today and ensure that your exports or imports are in compliance and following all of recent government regulations. 

A Look at Global Trade During 2020 and Moving Forward

Cargo ships entering one of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore.The year 2020 has been a bit of a wild ride. Well, that’s certainly an understatement. For many people in this country, the year has been filled with nightmarish rollercoaster-like ups and downs, twists and turns, and probably some machine malfunctions, ungreased gears, and loose screws. And yet, America—being the resilient and robust economy that it is— continues forward and marches on. So while every industry, every person, every sports team, business, and school is being, in some way, affected by changing regulations and people’s sudden hypersensitivity to personal space and hygiene, the global market is also seeing its effects. According to some reports, the global economy is seeing the sharpest reversal since the Great Depression. The drop was quite dramatic in the early months of the shutdown and has seen some steady recovery since. 

The Ever-Changing Markets 

If you are in the business of exporting or importing goods, you know that the market, regulations, and tides of trade are always shifting and ebbing and flowing. This year was specifically turbulent because of unprecedented circumstances. As of April 2020, 6.6 million Americans were seeking unemployment benefits. This has, of course, great implications for the domestic economy and will see the ripple effects moving through the whole of society pretty soon. The pandemic has certainly upended many international trade flows, though the U.S import and export movement must continue. It has certainly made countries think much more carefully about who they are trading with and how they conduct business abroad. 

China is, of course, coming under fire from many countries including the U.S and India. As of June of 2020, many Indian businesses were all boycotting Chinese products. India has already banned certain products, apps, and other items from China. In April, Japanese officials injected $2 billion to boost domestic manufacturing. Other countries, as reported by US News, like France have expressed their need to refocus their trading partners and reassess their relationship with people from China. White House economic advisor Peter Navarro told reporters that he thought, “We are dangerously over-dependent on a global supply chain.” 

These movements have led many to report that nationalism and more nationalistic trade policies will emerge the victors after the smoke clears. As Forbes reports, there have already been several reports to block exports of certain items. And this, according to them, might lead governments to be a lot more selective about what they deem essential exports and imports. 

Impact on Imports and Exports 

The pandemic has also had significant effects on imports and exports; it has disrupted supply chains, reduced trade volumes, and limited product availability. While this causes concern for traders, it doesn’t mean all of it is dismal news. Because all markets are interconnected — from Europe to India to the U.S — a disruption to one part of the chain will often have some effects on the other. 

Some analysts are predicting that returning to normal will be a difficult fight. Many believe that the outbreak has permanently altered the global flow of goods and services. The pre-coronavirus norms seemed to have open free-flowing trade across global markets, as globalization seemed to be the 21st century way of trading. The political popularity of globalization has suffered quite a bit and many countries are looking for ways to remain a little more conservative on their trade, or, at the very least, have much more discretion on who they trade with. 

And so while pre-corona trade patterns may not return, international trade, imports, and exports will continue to be a large part of the U.S economy as we continue trading with our allies and close trading partners. There is no question that the pandemic has brought about a change in the international markets, but exactly what kind of change is yet to be seen. Other industries like pharmaceuticals might see their changes as well, as countries begin to kickstart the production of some of these goods in their own borders. In the U.S, according to Market Watch, imports fell 6.2% but U.S exports fell even deeper with 9.6%. 

The U.S trade deficit also widened by almost 12% in March as international flights were not allowed to fly, which froze the global tourism. At the same time, the exchange of goods was also affected. The U.S exported fewer cars, aircraft parts, and barrels of petroleum. 

As far as the big picture is visible right now, some segments of international commerce are faring better than others. For example, trade in medical supplies and food, but the global petroleum market has been hard hit. The movement of electronic goods like iPhones has also decreased dramatically. And while the recovery of the global economy might take some time, there will not be a shortage of need for international trade, especially in certain industries. There has been some decline in freight and cargo shipments for a variety of reasons including the fact that many companies have had to shut their doors and many ports and transportation workers were either sick or unable to return to work. 

In these uncertain times, you need to have a brokerage you can trust. Here at Cordova Brokerage, we are entrenched in the movements of the markets and global trade in order to provide our clients with the latest information and pertinent changes. If you are importing or exporting goods, things might seem a little chaotic. Find a brokerage you can trust to walk you through the ever-changing markets, regulations, and compliance restrictions. 

 

An Overview of America’s Imports and Exports

two businessmen shaking hands with a shipping yard in the backgroundSince the beginning of the country, the trajectory and nature of imports and exports have changed dramatically in the United States. The U.S went from being quite protective and isolationist in its approach to favoring a more open and free-flowing market that led the way to modern foreign relations many today would term globalization. Each has accompanied the very different cultures and customs of the time. The change was, in large part, brought about by global conflicts that changed the way nations exchanged goods with one another. Post-war America began to see open trade as a way to open up countless possibilities to advance the country’s economic interests, as well as establishing strong ties with foreign nations. 

Some of the country’s founders had differing ideas about the ideal trade policy. Alexander Hamilton, for example, was far less of a protectionist that he is often made out to be. He knew the importance of the import market and how that could help fund the public debt. He had much milder tariff policies that found the support of traders and merchants of the time. Others, like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison,  considered much more draconian trade policies and seemed to purport a more domestically focused economy. Interestingly enough, when he became president, Jefferson imposed an unusual trade policy, which had a nearly complete embargo on international commerce from December 1807 to March 1809. This was a short-lived experiment that showed what it would look like to have an almost complete stop to international trade. This embargo, along with effects on trade from the War of 1812, is often said to have further sparked the rapid industrialization of the country and encouraged domestic manufacturing. 

The Early American Isolationism 

In the early days of American history, Americans seemed to have a ‘leave me alone,’ attitude. In large part, Americans still hold this attitude, as it is greatly inculcated in our nature and our country’s culture. Even after World War I, America slowly returned to a more isolationist foreign policy. The war, after all, had brought with it a very large unpaid debt, as well as a generation of men scarred by the war. And by the mid to late 20s, foreign policy was not something on most people’s minds.   The Hoover Administration set forth the Hawley-Smoot Tariff. Because trade was a large arbiter of foreign relations, the tariff was a way to cut off the discussion altogether. This caused a lot of foreign retaliation that contributed, at least in some part, to the economic downturn that gripped the U.S and the world in the late 1920s. 

At the London conference of 1933, Rosevelt refused to tie the American dollar to a gold standard. This upset many European leaders. At the same time, Roosevelt realized that the Hawley Smoot Tariff was crippling American economic growth and the U.S made the policy more flexible. 

Trade Policy After World War II

The breakout of World War II was of course another cataclysmic change to the world and the global markets. The United States, unlike Britain and other Ally countries, did not have their industrial centers and cities bombed and therefore did not suffer the kinds of losses to their manufacturing that other nations did. This opened the way for the United States to manufacture a lot of necessary parts and materials for the war effort and otherwise. The U.S dominated many export markets after the war because the manufacturing centers were intact, this allowed for innovation and technological advancements, and due to inherent strengths in numbers of workers and the growth of several industries. All of this set the United States up for success in a global market by the time the war was over and countries were trying to rebuild their cities and lives. U.S aid was important to this recovery and these nations also needed export markets in order to return to economic independence. The U.S helped create the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which consisted of an international code of tariff and trade rules that was signed by 23 countries in 1947. 

In the 70s, the U.S trade balance was hurt due to some externalities like the oil price shocks, global recession, and increases in the foreign exchange value of the dollar. The American demand for foreign goods meant that America demanded a lot of imports. 

Still in the 1990s the nation remained committed to free trade and pursued to establish new multilateral trade negotiations, worked on new trade negotiations that involved Europe and Latin America and worked to solve other trade disputes. For a large number of people in the U.S, the idea of free trade means the liberal movement of goods across nations and the world. This opens up opportunities and markets and allows for better relations among nations. 

The nature of the current trade agreements and trade policies might be called into question after the world fully recovers from the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. This might return some manufacturing and production to the United States, or perhaps curb China imports some.  

The history of the United States trade policy shows how the country began and how it grew slowly as the world grew with it. Because of some of the global conflicts that gripped the 20th century, the U.S benefited and was able to build a great production machine with a lot of trade potential. 

Get With A Brokerage You Trust

Here at Cordova Brokerage, we are on top of all the changes and nuances of the U.S import and export business. It can get complicated following the many restrictions and compliance requirements. If you are looking to get into exporting goods or need brokerage services, we are here to help. Call us today. 

 

The Importance of the Supply Lines: How We Play a Role 

The world of trade is interconnected. In fact, everything is connected through a vast network of social media platforms, websites, media sites, and, when it comes to our exported and imported goods, through a network of supply lines and international trade. As the world is watching carefully for the developments of the virus that has already altered life for many, these supply lines are a big part of keeping things moving. The outbreak has, of course, impacted global supply chains and so we thought we’d take a look at how we play a role in all of this.

Many might look back at the beginning of the outbreak with some curiosity, as frenzied buyers began fighting over the rolls of toilet paper in the grocery stores and shoppers rushed to stock up on canned goods and food. People feared that the supply chains would be completely disrupted, preventing people from accessing the goods they need. The good news is, that the domestic supply lines are still running and goods and products are still being transported throughout the country. 

Changes in the World of International Trade 

As experienced and licensed customs brokers, we handle all types of customs movements such as imports, exports, freight forwarding, and more. Every day, we deal with the international markets and the complex web that connects all of the world’s consumers and producers. We help U.S producers sell their products across international borders and do so efficiently and with full compliance with all customs laws here and abroad.  As word of the COVID-19 virus began to circulate, the world of export and imports began to see some changes. The world turned its head to China and suddenly realized just how interconnected we really are, as many U. S products are, in fact, imported from the country. 

Common Chinese Exports

There are a lot of products that we use in our everyday lives that come from China. You might be holding that device in your hand right now, as there are many production sites of Apple products and more in the country. In February of 2020, Apple announced it already expected its quarterly earnings to be lower than previously expected. This is partly because of a constrained global supply.  The activity of Chinese manufacturing plants fell since the beginning of the virus spread and will likely do so for a few months. Some of China’s main exports include:

  • Electrical machinery, equipment  ($671 billion)
  • Machinery including computers ($417 billion)
  • Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings ($99.5 billion)
  • Plastics, plastic articles  ($84.4 billion)
  • Vehicles (74.4 billion)
  • Optical, technical, medical apparatus  ($73 billion)
  • Knit or crochet clothing, accessories (71.4 billion)
  • Articles of iron or steel ($69.6 billion)
  • Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet) ($66.8 billion)
  • Toys, games ($62.8 billion)

In the past 18 years, China’s importance in the worldwide markets has increased dramatically. And perhaps this is why more countries around the world will feel the China markets drop. During the SARS epidemic of 2002, the effects on China’s transportation and manufacturing industries were not as big. Experts are projecting then that the effects of Covid-19 will be much broader because of the scope.  Many suppliers around the world receive materials from China which affects about 17,600 finished products. 

At the same time, The U.S also does a lot of trade with China. This means that we have some major exports going into that country as well. In 2019, according to Market Watch, U.S exported 120.3 billion in goods to China in 2018 including transportation equipment, computers and electronics, chemicals, machinery, oil and gas, crops, and more. 

Products From Every Corner of the World 

Today’s global economy is far more interconnected than ever before. Consumers today are used to seeing products from every corner of the world. It’s why you can go to your local grocery store and find products from Japan, Germany, or China. All of these exports and imports provide more choices to consumers across the globe. If a country is importing too many products as compared to its exports, this might end up affecting the country’s currency. 

While Global Trade is in Decline, Supply Lines are Vital 

And while the production of some computer products or other manufacturing has largely ceased, the production of food both domestically and abroad has continued. After all, maintaining the supply lines open is vital to the ability for societies to fight this pandemic. There have already been new measures set in place with countries like United States, China, Colombia, Canada, Brazil, and other WTO (World Trade Organization) members when it comes to the trade in Covid-related medical products, cutting import duties, curbing customs-clearance burdens and flexibility in licensing and approval. All of these measures should help and/or facilitate the movement of goods during these chaotic times. They also help make these goods a little more affordable for domestic consumers. 

In these trying times, keeping supply lines smoothly running will be a major part of the worldwide effort to battle the virus. Countries have already ramped up the production of certain medical products like masks, gowns, and gloves. Trade is a big part of the effort and any worldwide effort to improve the response to the virus by ensuring that countries are able to get the medical supplies and necessary equipment they need. According to some data, the average applied import duty on all Covid 19 medical supplies is 4.8% to 11.5% and about 17% for hand soap. No country today is completely self-sufficient and trade allows for the ability of necessary supplies and equipment to continue flowing and get to where it needs to go. 

Where We Come In — A Trusted Brokerage 

As we operate in the world of trade, exports, and imports, we are operating to serve people and businesses needing to continue their product trade in and out of the country. Here at Cordova Brokerage, we are on top of changes that happen in the world of customs and imports and exports. We ensure that we comply with all of the customs regulations and the ongoing changes to the trade policy that might happen during this chaotic time.

The Importance of the Trucking Industry

A white truck running on the street in the morning.

The trucking industry is a very important one, in fact, many would argue that it is the most important one in the United States. Everything you’ve ever owned has probably seen the inside of a semi-truck at some point. We’ve all seen them on the road and while we might sometimes get annoyed with them, we must remember that our society would crumble without them. These huge vehicles are responsible for your food, your medicine, your clothes, and just about everything else you have ever touched besides the soil on the ground outside. In fact, a giant truck might have transported that too, you can never tell these days. 

 

Employment

 

Next time you decide to honk at a truck driver for going just a little too slow, think about the person inside that truck. They are doing a job that is very difficult and very vital to our society. Truck drivers typically work very long hours, spending hours and sometimes days on the road. They are pulling massive loads and can’t even see behind them for the most part. Truck drivers also have to spend days and weeks away from their families, which can be really difficult for any person to do. Truck driving is definitely an important but rather thankless job. 

 

There are over 800,000 truck drivers working in the united states today and they account for $30 billion dollars each year. That is a lot of money being out into our economy that we can’t afford to lose. Without the trucking industry, we wouldn’t really be able to buy anything because there wouldn’t be anything to buy. The trucking industry supports consumers and business by transporting products all over the country to be purchased by everyone. Truck driving jobs are very hard, and not many people really want to do it, so we need to appreciate the people that do. 

 

Being in the trucking business can get lonely and there are many days where drivers are on the road for more than 14 hours a day. They spend several days all alone in their trucks. Driving a truck is most certainly a living, but it also probably will not make anyone rich. 

The Economy

 

Our economy is never an easy thing to talk about. It’s a lot of numbers that account for the lives of a lot of people, but right now we only need to discuss how the trucking industry affects the economy. Not to be dramatic, but we essentially would not have an economy. With a country as huge as the United States, we need trucks to travel all around it in order to make sure that everyone can get what they need. 

 

Trucks transport pretty much everything that we could ever need. Think about it. Most of our country is not surrounded by water, so we can’t use boats for everything, and flying everything to where they need to go is far too impractical and expensive. Truck driving is our only option. 

 

Our economy relies on consumers buying goods and services. Our economy does not work if consumers cannot find goods to buy. The trucking industry is pretty much responsible for everything that we buy. Even if your items didn’t get there in a semi-truck, it is likely that they were shipped as raw materials in a truck to a factory where they then got assembled into the item that you ended up buying. 

 

A Little History

 

Before our country had the trucking industry, we had trains and pack animals. In order to get all of our goods across the country, they would be shipped in trains and would be transported locally with wagons and pack animals. The transportation industry changed forever when the internal combustion engine was invented in the middle 19th century. A short time later, a man by the name of Alexander Winton invented the first-ever semi-truck in 1898 and sold the first manufactured one in 1899. By 1914, there were approximately 25,000 semi-trucks in the United States driving around and delivering goods across the country. As the country started building cultures around motor vehicles and started building suburbs and highways in the 1940s and 1950s, the trucking industry only had more reasons to get even bigger. 

 

If you are in the trucking and transporting business, Cordova Brokerage has your back. We can provide you with cross-docking and warehousing if you would ever need them. Get your goods and services to your customers in a way that is quick and efficient. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, comments, and concerns. 

The Role of the Freight Forwarder and the Supply Chain 

The goods we purchase every day—from our clothes to our home appliances—have often traveled a long journey to get on the shelf on which we buy them from. Every day, the world continues to produce goods, trade them, and transport them across borders and across the globe. The international supply chain is a magnificent and complex living thing that is always changing, growing, and adapting to global changes, demands, and downfalls. Here at Cordova Brokerage, we love being part of the bigger picture that is the global supply chain. Freight forwarding is part of this bigger process that is happening every day. 

While it might seem simple on the surface, freight forwarding actually involves many different components and occupies a very strategic position on the supply chain. It might seem that freight forwarding is nothing but the movement of physical goods from one place to the other, it is actually much more than that. There is a logistical component that plays a big role in getting these goods safely, legally, and orderly to the right place, at the right time frame, on the right budget, etc.  

The Early Days of Freight Forwarding and How it Has Changed Over the Years 

As we covered in previous blog posts, the history of trade goes back hundreds of years. Freight forwarding, in some way or another, was always part of that process of trading across borders. As of 1800, the earliest freight forwarders were known to be innkeepers that helped the hotel guests to hold and ship forward their goods. Over the years, as trade and business progressed, the role of the freight forwarder became a more professional and controlled business to business enterprise that helped merchants and traders ship their goods to other parts of the world. 

Established in  1836, Thomas Meadows and Company Limited helped the transportation of items through contracting using a network of local carriers. These services also helped their customers with documentation, tracking, and in regarding to customs. As the decades went on, of course, the advancement in transportation systems increased trade and made it much more effective when it came to forwarding freight. This access to better transportation such as steamships and trains, international trade was facilitated and therefore increased. 

Freight forwarders play an important role in businesses trading their goods across borders. Customs regulations and legalities can often require a lot of paperwork, and a reliable freight forwarder is in charge of all of this paperwork. For many businesses, these can be quite time-consuming. 

The Use of Technology in Freight Forwarding 

While the customs regulations and rules are still very much an inevitable part of international trade, the use of technology has really facilitated all of these processes. There is still a lot of forms and documentation to fill out, but the advent of wireless internet and functional software, tracking and documenting freight has become much easier. This has allowed for immediate tracking and following shipments, as well as easy documentation. 

Ways to Tell if Your Freight Forwarder is Trustworthy 

Forwarding your goods from one side of the globe to another and across borders means dealing with customs regulations from both countries. This is why it’s important then to make sure that your freight forwarder is trustworthy and is an expert in the industry of customs and brokerage. A few ways to assess the professionalism of your freight forwarder include:

Flexibility: In a perfect world, everything would always go as planned. When dealing with products leaving the factory, however, and being transported, there are often unforeseen circumstances. A reliable freight forwarder knows the process and has the tools and the capacity to deal with last-minute changes. 

Transparency: At the same time, a good freight forwarder should be able to supply you with status and tracking and be transparent about the transport of your product. A good forwarder will have the capabilities for cargo tracking and always change information on updates and important changes. 

Proven expertise and reputation:  A freight forwarder will have experience and understanding of various aspects of international trade. They will have an effective and efficient process and all of this will be reflected in their expertise and their reputation as a business. At Cordova Brokerage, our hands-on experience has served us as the best education for perfecting and implementing the best process and effective workflow. 

Choose the Experts and Secure Your Freight the Right Way 

A trustworthy and competent freight forwarder is a necessary part of your international dealings. Don’t risk not being in compliance or losing part of your shipment for trusting a freight forwarder that was not prepared to handle your job. Here at Cordova Brokerage, our expertise lies in the supply chain, customs, documentation, and transport. Give us a call today and see how we can help you with your freight forwarding. 

The Origins of Trade & How to Get Started in the International Markets

a handshake superimposed over a cityscape at sunsetAs old as silk; as common as tea; as valuable as spices. The history of trade can be traced back for thousands of years. It’s almost something human beings are naturally inclined to do and a mutual agreement that is found in all civilizations. And, in fact, it was silk, tea, and spices that were the major trade items that sparked what would later be known as ‘international’ trade. Today, the biggest trading markets include the European Union, the United States, and China. Cordova Brokerage helps businesses dive into the world of international trade by helping companies establish secure and legal pathways for exporting and importing their goods. The trade industry, while lucrative, is composed of plenty of regulations and rules that can be difficult to navigate without the right level of experience.

The Early Days of Trading — A Human Impulse to Share Goods and Services

The early days of trading, however, involved domesticated animals like camels, carrying goods across lands. Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and you have the famous Silk Road. The Silk Road, of course, refers to the ancient network of trade routes that were established during the Han Dynasty of China. The famous Marco Polo traveled on these routes. And some of the most common goods that traveled from East to West and West to East included silk, tea, dyes, horses, saddles, honey, fruit, and more. 

Trade was then continued and advanced thanks to the forming of new countries and the establishment of routes, as well as the invention of ships, trains, buses,  and airplanes. In 1946, the Bretton Woods system goes into effect; it had been planned since 1944. It was designed to prevent further world conflicts and depressions. In 1947, 23 countries to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This rationalizes and improves trade among nations.  In the ’90s the European Union formed and centralized their trading power. Only a few years later, in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect as well. This trade deal changes the nature of trade between the North American countries and really impacts the border region when it comes to jobs, trade across the border, and more. 

The Importance of NAFTA — How It Reshaped North America’s Economic Ties

You will often hear arguments about the impacts of NAFTA. Depending on who you ask and when you ask it, but one thing that is undeniable is the fact that NAFTA did have a big impact on how the three neighbors do business. It also facilitated trade, so it made it easier for goods and services to flow back and forth. It fundamentally reshaped the economic relations between the three countries and drove regional trade to triple as well as cross-border investment. 

As a brokerage company located on the border, we know the impact of the deal. We also know that the implementation of the renegotiated NAFTA—called the USMCA— will have its own impact as well. We wrote a little bit about that in a recent blog

Trading in the Modern Day 

Today, trade works very differently than it did on the Silk Road, although the idea is the same. A powerful country will want a strong trade agreement that allows them to bargain and bring terms to the table. 

How To Prepare Your Product for Import and Export 

Here at Cordova Brokerage, we specialize in taking products to market in international markets. Whether it’s your first time, or you have been doing it for many years, the prospect of putting your products onto the world stage can be pretty exciting. Here’s a couple of things to consider right off the bat:

  • The name of your product. 
  • Packaging and labeling design. 
  • The size and quantity of your product

There is about $1. 2 trillion dollars worth of goods in the importing industry and about $772 billion in merchandise every year in exports that go to over 150 countries.  Every product you can think of is fair game to the global market. It’s why, if you have a successful business and a thriving product, trying your hand at the global market might be a good opportunity for you. 

The Possibilities that Lay at Trade’s Door 

Imports are important to all countries because no matter where you are there is something that cannot be produced or grown in your area. So importing comes down to three main things: 

Availability: There are some things that simply won’t be available naturally in certain areas.

Cachet: Some products develop value by the fact that they are imported from somewhere else.

Price: Some products are simply cheaper when they are brought in from another country, as opposed to producing locally. 

Every business needs its customers and finding your target audience and customer base is the next big step when embarking in international trade. Any manufacturer, supplier, crafter, or retailer is a good place to start or explore. You also want to consider the start-up costs and marketing costs in order to hone in on a specific audience more successfully. 

We Take Care of the Shipment, Forwarding, and Warehousing

Taking your business onto the modern Silk Road can bring lucrative opportunities for you and your company. For many, it opens up doors and increases investment and customer base. At the same time, the rules and regulations surrounding the transfer and shipment of goods and services across borders can get a little complicated and that’s why we are here. Here at Cordova Brokerage, we specialize in the movement of those goods, the paperwork, the storage, and freight forwarding, in order to protect your investment.