Member Profile: Reinke Manufacturing Co.

Member Profile: Reinke Manufacturing Co.

Posted on October 1, 2021

Reinke Manufacturing is the world’s largest privately-held manufacturer of center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems. According to Dirk Monk, the International Technical Sales Manager, turning the Sahara Desert green is Reinke’s specialty. With all jokes aside, he pulls out before and after pictures of a potato farm in Egypt that was the desert you’d imagine, and then after the irrigation system was installed, the land was green, lush, and full of potato plants.

The company, since its inception, has had a knack for innovation, with the first reversible electric drive center pivot system and on to other sophisticated technology integrations. “We were the first company to have a mechanized irrigation system with fully functional GPS. The GPS principles have not needed modification in 15 years. That tells you just how accurate they were from the get-go,” explains Monk. Now, with even more technology integrations, farmers can turn on irrigation systems from miles away, bringing about shifts in the way we farm. “The older generations still want to be out on the farm, touch the crops, feel the soil and kick the dirt. Newer operations are run more like commercial farms, where people are hired for their specialties, agronomists, or farm managers to take care of their area of expertise.”  With connectivity to apps that measure and track weather, temperature, and soil moisture, soil probes will show a farmer exactly where and how much water is needed. With the right system in place, all the technology can make irrigation foolproof. Monk assists globally with system design and product placement with their international dealers, making sure Reinke’s products are well represented and fit the customer’s needs.

It is not a secret that much of the world is going through climate changes. Many parts of the world that only used irrigation as a supplement to rainfall now need consistent watering for their crops on a more frequent basis. This has been an opportunity for Reinke to show how the right irrigation system can make all the difference in crop yields. “Getting a system is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another,” Monk says, explaining that his role is to ensure the customer comes first, as a key to their success.

Being a family-owned business, they have many advantages over larger irrigation companies; Reinke has the ability to react and pivot quickly, which has been essential. The company is big enough to have a global footprint, stay competitive, and have the value-added technology and innovation to get buyers excited. “By being family-owned,  when we have a great opportunity, I don’t have to spend time calling board meetings, making long presentations to convince a group of a good opportunity. I just send a text message and get the okay that day,” explains Monk.

Just five years ago, Reinke’s international department was five people traveling all over the world visiting every tradeshow to showcase products. Now, Reinke has fifty-plus employees and warehouses in Argentina, South Africa, Romania, Bejing, and Australia. Developing business internationally is always a challenge, but there have been a few more obstacles to overcome with the pandemic. Face-to-face dealings are always preferred, so the pandemic has been a challenge in building new relationships.

Reinke was a recent participant of the Virtual Agriculture Machinery Mission facilitated by the NDTO, where companies were able to select target markets, and buyers were identified for potential sales. “This mission was incredibly useful, and the NDTO connected us with promising business partners to start building relationships. The virtual introductions are a good way to start these conversations, but we still need to follow up with face-to-face interactions,” says Monk.  Some cultures are more comfortable with virtual business deals, where others are more comfortable with in-person interactions.

Looking ahead, Reinke is facilitating opportunities for dealerships to engage globally, with strategic funding procedures to assist with sales through ExIm bank and how to mitigate the risk of working with global payments. “Financing is going to be a big player in our markets,” explains Monk, “historically, irrigation projects have not been done with large financing. But now that is changing.” Tools like ExIm bank and other programs can be a game-changer for dealers and customers. With these tools, there are more payment processing assurances, which can increase trust and decrease the risk for both sides.

Reinke continues to show their dedication to customers as Monk describes, “we are a value-added company, we don’t sell by the foot or by the meter, we want successful long-term partnerships with dealers and the end-users. The only way we can do that is to treat them fairly and well.” This tradition will surely continue as Reinke continues to expand internationally and make irrigation approachable.

For more information on Reinke Manufacturing, check out their website here.

Do I Need an Export License?

Do I Need an Export License?

Posted on October 1, 2021

The vast majority of exports fall under the US Dept of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the distinction of No License Required (NLR). But, awareness is key when exporting. Many people think it is required to have some sort of license to begin exporting, but this is not true. The type of export, destination, and the end-use of the export are the main factors for determining if an export license is required.

Why might one need a license to export? The license is a necessary regulatory check by the US government (and other governments who have their own rules) to understand the types of products leaving the US and how they might be used. The licensing can ensure that harmful goods are not put into the wrong hands or misused and should be considered as a protective measure.  Specific countries or buyers can be scrutinized, and in some cases, products cannot be legally exported to a particular buyers, no matter the export type.

Who, what, where, and how are essential questions to determine if an export license is needed. Each question will help to decide if further research or government regulations apply.

What are you exporting?

The Department of Commerce uses the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) to describe an export. Finding your ECCN on the  Commerce Control List (CCL) is a good first step to understanding if a license is needed. Identifying the export in the CCL will indicate any controls or restrictions on the product and identify where to look for the next step of identification.

If your export falls under the Dept of Commerce's purview and is not listed on the CCL, the export is considered an EAR99. An EAR99 distinction is typically a consumer good with low technology, the uses of which do not likely have a military use or cause harm. 

If a control number is present, it will be used along with the "commerce country chart" in the same box.

Where is the export going?

Governmental restrictions on a variety of countries exist but in varying degrees and for different exports. Embargoed counties are the most recognizable and have been designated as supporting terrorism.

Using Commerce's Country Chart will indicate if the export is allowed into that country without an export license. Scroll to find the country, and use the control number(s) from the CCL to find the correlating box. If the correlating box has an "x" in it, an export license is needed.  If there is no "x" under the concern and country box, then no export license is required for that destination.

The next question to ask is who will be receiving the exports and if any sanctions are placed on that country or purchaser.

Who is receiving the item?

Even if export licenses are not required for your export category, there still may be a license or regulation for a particular purchaser or country. Here is where the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) can come into play. OFAC has a variety of sanctions on specific countries and individuals. The Sanctions Programs and Country Information and the  Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person List provide additional detail to determine if you can export to a given country or purchaser.

Now that you know the basics on who, what, and where, we can explore how the export will be used.

How will it be used?

Understanding how the export can be used is also a determining factor of export licensing. If the export can be linked to the creation or use of weaponry or drug trafficking, restrictions often apply. The resources above offer indicators about potential harmful uses. When in doubt, it is best to contact the BIS for advice or an official ruling if a license would be required.

If it is determined that an export license is necessary, apply for the license through the BIS. An online system is available and offers faster service. Be aware that licenses typically expire every two years. No License Required (NLR) is a common indicator on products and is used on export documents if a license is not necessary. 

Although licenses are typically not required for many exporters,  it is good practice to understand why an export license may be necessary. Failure to comply with export licenses and restrictions can have costly consequences. Several software companies specializing in export compliance and regulations may be of use if your company needs a faster solution to export compliance and licensing. To save your company time, money, and future headaches, be sure to use the resources below and confirm your exports comply with export license regulations.

Resources:

Bureau of Industry and Security: Commerce Control List

Bureau of Industry and Security: Licensing

Shipping Solutions: No, You Probably Don't Need an Export License, But...

US Department of Treasury:  Sanctions Programs and Country Information

US Department of Treasury: Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN) Human Readable Lists

Bureau of Industry and Security: Frequently Asked Questions to Export Licensing Requirements

Tech & Trade: Right to Repair

Tech & Trade: Right to Repair

Posted on October 1, 2021

The Right-to-Repair movement has been gaining traction across the US and Europe. The movement would include legislation allowing equipment owners access to tools, parts, and diagnostic equipment for basic repairs without the need for a certified technician.  In the US, President Biden and Federal Trade Commission seek updates to ease third-party repair restrictions with an executive order and a unanimous committee hearing vote in July 2021.

For this month’s Tech & Trade installment, let’s take a closer look at what it means to have the ability to repair products and the impacts this movement may have on global trade.

There are many items consumers often repair, such as automobiles and small appliances, but as the technology behind many goods becomes more sophisticated, so do the repairs. The technology in these products is more complex than ever, and if a consumer wants to make repairs, they are often denied the information, tools, or parts to do so, ultimately limiting the ability to extend the life of products or have choices in the repair process. Other issues on the Right-to-Repair movement revolve around software and design. Often, embedded software is unalterable or not customizable, and in some cases, products are created specifically not to accommodate any repairs. Right-to-Repair complaints are common with cell phones, and laptop repairs due to system locks and manufacturer updates preventing repairs and customization, a variety of other applications are impacted.

A closer-to-home example is the many tractors operated in ND and throughout the Midwest’s vast agricultural land; they have increasingly complex geographic navigation systems, engine controls, and so on. As time progresses, these tractors need repairs, and many manufacturers require a certified technician to make repairs and updates. This can be problematic for many farmers as certified repair professionals can be miles away, backed up with orders (especially during harvest season), and supplies of certified parts can fluctuate (as we have seen with the pandemic supply chain issues).  By requiring certified professionals, farmers can have whole fields go to waste, or harvests will be subpar by the time the equipment can be fixed (FTC Votes Unanimously to Fight Restrictions on Right to Repair, 2021).

Manufacturers of many products from cellphones and laptops to household appliances and large farm equipment will be impacted by the shifts many countries are mandating around the ability to repair such devices. Complexities are vast, as manufacturers defend control over their software security, emission compliance, and overall machine performance from individuals looking to customize. Manufacturers also have safety concerns that equipment could be overridden to compromise operational safety (Goode, 2021). The quality of replacement parts and repairs from unauthorized distributors is of concern, many not going through rigorous testing or meeting the original standards of quality from the manufactures. Larger companies have banded together, stating that their intellectual property and trade secrets are also at risk as legislation passes for more transparency for repairs.

Globally, several countries have taken approaches to mitigate e-waste and work with manufacturers to balance these issues. The ability to access repair technologies would allow for reduced waste globally, minimize throw-away culture, and have a better market for refurbished goods like cell phones. Increasing reuse of items will reduce a significant amount of e-waste to align with a more “circular economy,” keeping resources in use rather than recycled or thrown away. The UK’s Circular Economic Action Plan introduced in 2020 outlines the Right-to-Repair directives (Tyler, 2021). Throwing away technology because it can’t be repaired is expensive and wasteful; these items are currently broken down and piece-mealed for recycling at a fraction of the cost. Exporting the broken down recycling is also a common practice.  But, if repairs were more accessible, the UK estimates as many as 450,000 jobs could be added to the market, along with keeping tech and resources in the country (Harvey, 2021). The UK introduced right to repair rules in July 2021 to require manufactures to make spare parts available for personal devices, with a two-year grace period. The rules state that basic repairs with basic spare parts can be supplied to the consumers, but more complex repairs and parts will be provided only by professional repair people. The legislation, however, does not include all electronics. Laptops and smartphones have currently been excluded from the legislation passed in July. 

The European Union has long been concerned with repairs and called for manufactures to reduce waste and make products more energy efficient. The repairability of devices now fits into the reduction of waste directive. Many suppliers in the EU must furnish replacement parts for devices for ten years to professional repair specialists for many household appliances.

France has created a repairability index. This database requires manufacturers selling devices in France to provide a repairability score base on a range of criteria. The goal of the index is to inform consumers, shift buying habits and expand the lifespan of otherwise finite product use. The overall database serves as a litmus test, says Wired magazine, to empower manufacturers, companies, and consumers to provide more reparable and sustainable devices (Stone, 2021).

Other countries with less rigorous standards for replacement parts are seen as dumping grounds for low-quality parts, expressing the need for more regulations around repairs in countries such as South Africa (Kessel, 2021).

The ability to repair small to large products is an impactful topic across the globe and will continue to change trade for many manufactures, software companies, and device producers. With more regulation placed on these types of products, trade will become increasingly complex. Many factors are involved, including empowering consumers’ choices, the economic impact for manufacturers and consumers, increasing reuse and recycling, and compliance. Much more will be seen as legislation is made across the globe with our increasing reliance on machinery and technology not only in trade but also in our everyday lives.

References

FTC Votes Unanimously to Fight Restrictions on Right to Repair. (2021, July). Retrieved from WNAX News:
https://wnax.com/news/180081-ftc-votes-unanimously-to-fight-restrictions-on-right-to-repair/

Godwin, C.
(2021, July 7). Right to Repair Movement Gains Power in US and Europe.
Retrieved from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-57744091

Goode, L.
(2021, July 21). The FTC Votes Unamously to Enforce Right to Repair.
Retrieved from Wierd:
https://www.wired.com/story/ftc-votes-to-enforce-right-to-repair/

Harvey, F.
(2021, August 4). Repairing and Reusing Household Goods Could Create
Thousands of Green Jobs Across the UK
. Retrieved from The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/04/repairing-and-reusing-household-goods-could-create-thousands-of-green-jobs-across-the-uk

Kessel, S.
(2021, August 13). CRA Guest Column: Right to Repair; An Industy
Interepretation
. Retrieved from Repairer Driven News:
https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2021/08/13/cra-guest-column-right-to-repair-an-industry-interpretation/

Klosowski,
T. (2021, July 15). What You Should Know About Right to Repair.
Retrieved from New York Times- Wirecutter:
https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/what-is-right-to-repair/

Stone, M.
(2021, February 28). Why France’s New Tech ‘Repairability Index’ Is a Big
Deal
. Retrieved from Wired: 2021

The Right to
Repair Movement
. (2021, August 4). Retrieved from The Hindu: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/right-to-repair-movement/article35722520.ece

Tyler, N.
(2021, August 5). Right to Repair. Retrieved from New Electronics:
https://www.newelectronics.co.uk/electronics-blogs/right-to-repair/239372/

African Swine Fever Increasingly Threatens Pork in North America and Globally

African Swine Fever Increasingly Threatens Pork in North America and Globally

Posted on August 13, 2021

The African Swine Fever Virus (ASF) is a highly contagious hemorrhagic virus that exclusively infects pigs. Some farmers have experienced nearly 100% loss of herds, and the impact has expanded globally across Europe and Asia. In early August, the Dominican Republic identified two cases of ASF. Now that the virus has moved closer to the US, diligence to protect North American herds is more important than ever. The cases in the Dominican Republic are the first known detections of ASF in the Americas in  40 years, and there has never been a confirmed case in the US. Prevention, identification, and containment are the best ways to save the swine population from infection as there is no vaccine or treatment currently available.

"We need to take African Swine Fever seriously," says ND State Veterinarian and Animal Health Division Director Dr. Ethan Andress. "ND has a significant number of pigs, and although there is not a human risk, the economic and swine impact could be devastating both locally and nationally to the swine industry." Greater care should be taken from travelers and veterinarians to ensure proper sanitation to ensure infected items do not make it into the US. "We saw what happened in China with the devastation to their hog populations, we don't want that to happen here, and prevention is our best course of action," says Dr. Andress. The 2018 outbreak of ASF in China spread across the region and has reduced the global pig herds by nearly 25%, and they are now facing variants and additional waves.

"As the world opens up to international travelers, it is important that anyone visiting agriculture or food processing facilities take caution and thoroughly clean any items worn during their visit before returning to the US," says Drew Combs, the Executive Director of the North Dakota Trade Office.  These practices are essential to keeping unwanted viruses such as ASF from infecting other countries. The long lifespan of the virus contributes to the importance of good hygiene and sanitization of anything that could potentially come in contact with ASF.

What makes this virus particularly challenging to eradicate is its stability. Studies presented by the ND Livestock Alliance show that the virus can remain stable for 150 days in bones stored below 40⁰ F, 140 days in dried and salted ham, and can live for several years in frozen meat. The virus can also spread through animal feed and fertilizers. The incubation period is 5-21 days and can move more quickly when acquired by tick bites—the transmission from swine to swine occurs through bodily secretions and excretions, particularly through the nose and mouth. The animals, feed, and their products must be sanitized and closely monitored for spread.

Tamera Heins, the Executive Director of the ND Pork Council, explains, "security will be amped up in airports for any travelers from the Dominican Republic to ensure ASF does not get through."  Amber Boeshans, the Executive Director of the ND Livestock Alliance, highlights that the "African Swine Fever only causes illness in pigs and this is not a threat to human health. We want to continuously remind export partners and our consumers here at home that US pork products are safe to eat. However, the US hog industry moves around the country quite frequently. We all need to be doing our part to keep biosecurity as tight as possible. Following the best practices and going the extra mile to ensure we are minimizing this health risk to America's pig herd."  Making sure that clothing, especially shoes, are sanitized will be essential to keep this virus out of North America.

If ASF reaches the US, pork exports will cease, feed exports will also be halted, and swine sales will significantly decrease. There will also be impacts on the native herds with higher mortality rates, and commodity prices will see a deep drop in pork and feed-related products. Containment and diligence are needed to control borders. The US, Canada, and Mexico have already increased their efforts after the Dominican Republic outbreak.

Tackling ASF globally is a collaborative effort using both private and public resources to spread the word, not the virus. The measures put in place by the National Pork Industry Board should be followed to combat the exposure and spread of the virus. This includes sanitization of clothing, equipment, and other items used in the processing, research, laboratories, and fresh animal producers.

Resources:

Pork Industry Guidelines for International Travel and Biosecurity

Research Prioritizes African Swine Fever Prevention and Preparedness

African Swine Fever Inches Closer To The U.S. With Infections In Dominican Republic

ND Officials Return from a Successful Mission in Qatar and Turkey

ND Officials Return from a Successful Mission in Qatar and Turkey

Posted on July 20, 2021

FARGO, ND - ND Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, ND Commerce Commissioner James Leiman, and North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) Executive Director Drew Combs returned from a successful mission in Qatar and Turkey. NDTO team worked closely with Qatari and Turkish counterparts to ensure a successful mission which included several ND companies with interests in expanding relationships internationally into the region.

The mission was intended to build on NDTO's relationships with Qatar and Turkey that started during the pandemic to create a lasting footprint for the future. The NDTO coordinated a two-part mission, which was completed late last week. Commissioner Goehring and Commissioner Leiman, both NDTO board members, played essential roles in representing ND. "North Dakota is experiencing growing opportunities in multiple sectors," says Commissioner Goehring. "It is a privilege to emphasize all North Dakota has to offer the global marketplace."

Commission Leiman appreciated the opportunity to join the mission to build on a variety of investment opportunities in Qatar and Turkey, saying, "I don’t think this mission could have gone any better. We are looking forward to building many new avenues for businesses in ND."

Over the past year," the NDTO has a budding relationship with Qatar and Turkey, and this was a perfect opportunity to build on those relationships and create a solid foundation for the future with our new friends," says Combs. 

While in Turkey, connections were made with the Turkish Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Industry and Technology, and Ministry of Trade. Other prominent business meetings were held with energy, agriculture, and technology leaders. Both ND and Turkish businesses shared ideas on how to best partner for the future on a variety of projects.

Following Turkey was the Qatari leg of the mission. Meetings with government officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Free Trade Zones Authority,  Qatar Investment Authority, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, and Qatar Stock Exchange. Qatari business people with agriculture, energy, and technology expertise welcomed the ND delegation throughout the week of meetings. The meetings focused on the exciting things happening in the state across several industries, as well as the many opportunities for partnership that will increase synergy between ND and Qatar.

"I can certainly say that the hospitality shown by the Qatari government was phenomenal, and we made many new and long-lasting connections," says Combs. Highlighting the success of the mission in both Qatar and Turkey, coupled with the ND businesses traveling with the delegation, there are many opportunities to thrive in the increasingly globalized world. The mission was a success in creating more bridges for communication, idea exchanges, investment opportunities, and cross-pollination for many ND companies in the future. As the world begins to open up and travel is becoming more available, NDTO and ND will continue to engage internationally and promote the state’s abundance in resources to increase ND’s global footprint.

 

Member Profile: Valley Express Inc.

Member Profile: Valley Express Inc.

Posted on June 30, 2021

From humble beginnings of hauling potatoes in the upper midwest, Valley Express Inc. has grown into a multidimensional global logistics company. With roots well planted in their ND home office, they started as a freight brokerage company that has expanded its services across several locations throughout the US. And through all their growth, Valley Express has maintained an impeccable reputation for consistency.

Within hours of asking if the team would be interested in speaking with NDTO for this article, I had four of their team members on a video call ready to tell me all about their dynamic approach to transportation and logistics. Overwhelmingly responsive is the best way to describe this team of hardworking and approachable professionals. Glenn Nelson, Chief Financial Officer, Wayne Larson, VP- Global Markets, Ian Nicks, VP Intermodal Logistics, and Amie O'Connor VP Global Operations, showed how their web of connectivity for imports and exports results in a highly effective model to benefit all.

Valley Express/ Worldwide moves around $70 million in freight revenue annually. They have grown and added value to their customers along the way with Valley Express, Valley Logistics Solutions, Valley Intermodal Solutions, and more. "Each one of our additional diversifications, like intermodal, has helped us become stronger and more responsive to the local community and customers," says Nelson. He goes on to explain that "just about everything we do comes from a 300-mile radius of the Fargo Moorhead area. We really are supporting this community with their freight needs." Valley Express has participated in trade missions, reverse trade missions, and STEP-funded opportunities with the NDTO throughout the years. These experiences have helped them better understand the business and build upon their connections.

"The intention was always to grow Valley Worldwide to support other aspects of the business and facilitate Valley Intermodal," explains Nicks. "Their goal is to grow to the point where our own fleet can handle our own containers through the Valley Worldwide office and vice versa, so that everything is all tied together." Nicks say that one of the biggest headaches he hears from exporters/importers is that they are often surprised by the many parties involved in moving the goods. Valley's role is to help clarify and simplify the process. "What Valley is building is a one-stop-shop. All a customer needs to do is call Valley, and that is it. They [customers] don't have to know anything about import/export documentation or if they need an AES [Automated Export System] filing. They don't have to know who is draying their container, or if there is a container shortage, and how to navigate that," says Nicks.   Customers typically come to Valley Express/ Worldwide in need of trucking services, but this relationship often evolves with the variety of integrated services offered.  The team can navigate all of the specificity of shipping seamlessly without confusing the customers.

Larson, who is based in Duluth, MN, explained that Valley Express/ Worldwide grew close partnerships with the Duluth Seaport Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing to help open an intermodal facility in 2017. The intermodal facility was a game-changer for many businesses, from seeing five containers coming into port weekly to seeing over one hundred. "Part of that is working directly with the Port Authority and Superior Warehousing," Larson explains "we can offer all types of services from freight forwarding, trucking, warehousing, and trans-loading to benefit many companies." A Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) services are also available on-site. US Customs inspections can often be scheduled the next day and take about 15 minutes. This helps to ease the timing and paperwork for many importers.

With its network of connections, Valley Express/ Worldwide has a competitive edge to help customers ship goods more efficiently. They can accommodate heavy commodity weight containers coming through the Duluth Port. The excess weight that is too heavy for roads can be stored and repacked to a manageable road weight and then shipped overland to their final destination. Companies can significantly reduce shipping costs overseas by shipping an overweight container via sea and then repacking it for road weight.

O'Connor manages operations at the Minneapolis, MN office and was described as "the epitome of operational excellence and keeping us all on the straight and narrow," says Nelson. The Minneapolis facility is an FDA-certified warehouse. Their space is also available for projects or to hold items for inventory management. The flexibility with this space is a valuable tool and can help supplement the customer's needs. In addition, O'Connor says, "our team specializes in making it easy for our importers and exporters. They don't do this every day,  and we do! If we can take this portion of their business off their hands and make it simple, we are happy to."

The Minneapolis intermodal trucking fleet operates between 40-50 owner-operators on any given day. Many of these operators are doing one to two loads per day throughout the region. With a "street-turn," meaning when full load is brought to its end destination and then can be reloaded with an export, it can then be brought back to Minneapolis full and ready for export again. The ability to do the street-turns has been invaluable for both companies to reduce costs and move goods more quickly. Valley Intermodal touches between 1000-1200 containers per month out of Minneapolis, many of which can be reused/reloaded or repositioned where they are needed. In Duluth, they are able to match the imports and exports with 50 containers going in and out each week.

Valley Express/ Worldwide is the most extensive intermodal fleet in the state of ND. "Our owner operations and their trucks have Valley Express on the doors. They are running under our licenses, insurance, authority, and their trailers are purchased from us, so we have created a structure where we can say yes to a truck that wants to come on. So we can grow for the customers quite quickly," explains Nelson. The team continues to increase their networking and have contacts in pretty much every location they have freight coming or going. As active members of the International Freight and Logistics Network (IFLN), the alliance is an invaluable resource and provides added security when shipping globally.

Valley Express/ Worldwide continues to grow and serve the community in ND to help build connections, cooperate with many businesses, and aims to simplify logistics for everyone. "Our customers don't have to be experts in international logistics. They just have to have our phone number," says Nicks, and the whole team nods and smiles.

For more information on Valley Express/Worldwide, see their video and visit their website here.

Exporting in the Time of COVID 19- Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

Exporting in the Time of COVID 19- Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

Posted on June 30, 2021

For our last edition in the series of Exporting in the Time of COVID-19, we revisit subjects from our previous topics and look towards the future with lessons learned as more information becomes available. While some of us are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the pandemic, there are many countries still in the midst of the fight. Keeping that in mind, there are many lessons to be learned so far, and how we can all continue to find ways to rebound and be more resilient in light of this ongoing global pandemic

Global cooperation has become essential on so many levels, including government, for and non-profit businesses, and private and public sectors, to find innovative approaches to keep forward momentum. Teamwork is vital as companies collaborate to spur each other's success. Maham Siddique said it well, when speaking about supply chain resiliency, that "connectivity, transparency, technology, and flexibility will empower buyers and suppliers… The resiliency-building lessons learned from the pandemic have taught us that establishing collaborative solutions can drive better trade outcomes (Teamwork 'Key to Overcome COVID-Induced Trade Hurdles', 2021)." She goes on to highlight four resiliency tactics for the future that every business should know - how their own supply chain works, how to embrace technology, having transparency in business, and how to flexible. All of these items can be identified and utilized to better prepare for the next global disruption – and all experts say there will be another one.

Supply Chains

Much was learned in the supply chain and logistics arena from the pandemic. Nimble and agile became two of the descriptors of successful transportation and logistics companies coming through the pandemic. Teamwork, agility, and re-routing goods and supplies became essential to navigate the continuously changing logistics environment during the pandemic. Traditionally, supply chain experts were trained to focus on efficiency and low-cost solutions, but the pandemic forced a paradigm shift taking risk management into account. Evaluating procurement costs, lead times, and material sourcing alongside profitability became essential (Phillips, 2021).  Adopting many digital technologies has become a clear advantage for companies that invested in these products long ago. They now have the intelligence and metrics to determine better logistical operations over their products.

Companies that initially saw a wide gap and disruptions in their supply chains talked early on about potential reshoring or nearshoring operations to provide more control. For many, this has not shown the be the case. Very few companies have taken the steps to re-shore. Better visibility of their supply/value chains and upgrading their logistics processes have proven to do the trick for many and will pay off in the long run.

Trade Policy

With many initial reactions to the pandemic, governments took steps to protect themselves before looking to their neighbors and beyond. Protectionism became a concern with policies focused on reactions to the pandemic in the immediate and not considering the breadth and depth that the pandemic could have globally. A year-plus later, we see that this is not the case. As pandemic restrictions started to ease, the collaboration between governments has started to increase.

Policy shifts will likely be seen as the vaccine rollout becomes more successful. Humanitarian and social programs are increasingly needed globally as food access, agriculture, small businesses and manufacturing industries start rebuilding. The process and structure will look very different depending on the country and the government's focus. We will likely see shifts less concerned with protectionist goals and more emphasis on expansion or loosening of tariffs on certain goods as humanitarian aid increases.

The UN Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) suggests that global trade should focus on climate change actions and developing programs to prioritize people and the environment (Make Trade More Sustainable and Inclusive, Leaders Say, 2021). Hopefully, these priorities of building up developing nations and increasing green energy and climate change initiatives will build towards a better future for the greater good.

Food Insecurity

Globally, there are several counties on the brink of famine, according to the UN World Food Program. The food supply was initially of concern, but as more research has come to light, access to food is a more significant problem in struggling countries. The food supply is available, but for many, it is not affordable. In many countries, food is supplied by small-scale farmers in local markets, and not the large production and complicated supply chain structures we see in the US. As lockdowns and public gathering restrictions were enforced, many local markets were unable to operate. Small-scale farming operations across the globe were more heavily impacted because of the structure of distribution and sales. Low and middle-income countries have been the most affected by hunger historically. What has been a predominantly rural issue now is seen throughout urban low and middle-income areas. The pandemic has increased hunger in urban areas dramatically due to job and wage instability.  (Sova, 2021)

With 50% of pre-pandemic food consumption coming from restaurants, this industry was hard-hit in developed countries. Overall, when the pandemic started to grip the world, many food-related businesses were making short-term adjustments, planning for a few weeks or months. As time when on, those adaptations had to become long-term fixtures. It is often easier to adjust for the short term, explains Brandon Barholt, president of KeHe Distributors, an Illinois bases fresh food distributor. A surprise he noted was that small manufacturers were more agile than anticipated, especially when compared to larger food manufacturers.  (Johns, 2021). The increase in at-home meal consumption, experts say, is likely here to stay. This is explained by a whole generation that did not know how to cook and was now forced to. Additionally, with income still an issue for many, eating out is a luxury that can wait. The pre-pandemic split of 50% restaurant food consumption and 50% at-home food consumption is not likely to return quickly in the US. While the US and other developed countries are not seeing empty shelves anymore, grocers are opting for a more focused inventory, ensuring staples are readily available. Many new products will be limited as grocers become more comfortable with the new buying habits of consumers. Hunger and food insecurity are still prominent in the developed nations, as access and rising food prices are likely to increase over time.

In 2021, many countries and communities will continue to struggle to put nutritious food on the table, warns the UN. Rising food prices are a limiting factor for families across the globe and will continue to be a major hurdle for the foreseeable future. Humanitarian aid, non-profits, and governments will need to embrace many tools to combat the struggles to reduce food insecurities.

Uneven Recovery

International businesses overall fared better than their solely domestic businesses. Global connectedness has been attributes as a key source of success for international firms, but also made international companies more susceptible to the initial pandemic shocks. After the early shock of the pandemic, international firms had multifaceted efforts to respond - employing several tactics like working remotely, adapting products, finding new suppliers, and in some cases loaning out workers to other manufacturing firms (Borino, Carlson, Rollo, & Solleder, 2021). Soley domestic businesses employed many of the same tactics but had fewer options to adjust within their borders.

Downstream supply challenges for many businesses are still a concern. Slow production capacity hampers some of the previously available goods to deliver products to consumers. Wood shortages, for instance, mean that shipping palettes are still in short supply, causing some manufactures to cut back production. Other companies have adapted to new packaging and other staples to move forward despite the shortages (Johns, 2021).

For example, the manufacturing industry is picking up in the UK. It is reported to have the highest growth rate since 1994, including orders, employment, and output (Drives and Controls, 2021). Keeping this momentum going will be a continued battle with embracing greener technologies set forth by UK governments and maintaining a competitive edge with other industrial and manufacturing powerhouses. The UK rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic and succeeded. Keeping the drive from the pandemic will be the key to maintaining greater global competitiveness for the UK manufacturing industry.

The global pandemic is still running amok for many countries, and now more than ever, a call to action for philanthropic endeavors is needed. There is a lot of potential for companies to join in on the continuing pandemic fight. Filipi explores how to identify a niche that your company may be able to fill and promote philanthropy across your organization (Filipi, 2021). We saw many manufacturers in the Midwest transition their production lines for PPE creation or hand sanitizers. This type of ingenuity is still needed as we continue to move through the pandemic waves.

Although resilience and adaptation remain at the forefront of recovery, there is still a long road ahead. Many industries, including food and manufacturing, are overall struggling to fill job vacancies hampering rebound. Additional surges and vaccination rates continue to impact countries across the globe, with travel restrictions still in effect throughout many parts of the world. Many economists and leaders are predicting continued challenges through 2021. However, through continued support, collaborative efforts, and transparency, recovery is happening, although it is a marathon, not a sprint.

References

Borino, F., Carlson, E., Rollo, V., & Solleder, O. (2021, April 30). International firms: More exposed but more resilient during Covid-19. Retrieved from VOX EU: https://voxeu.org/article/international-firms-more-exposed-more-resilient-during-covid-19

De Bellefonds, C. (2021, June 11). 7 Lessons We've Learned From This Pandemic to Remember for the Next One. Retrieved from Self: https://www.self.com/story/pandemic-lessons

Drives and Controls. (2021, June 15). Retrieved from We Must Apply the Lessons fo COVID to the Future: https://drivesncontrols.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/6750/We_must_apply_the_lessons_of_Covid_to_the_future.html

Filipi, F. (2021, June 23). Lessons Learned from Pandemic Responses that Leverage Philanthropy. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2021/06/23/lessons-learned-from-pandemic-responses-that-leverage-philanthropy/?sh=5b0d69b37851

Harvey, F. (2021, February 15). Risk of Global Food Shortages Due to COVID has Increased, Says UN Envoy. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/15/risk-of-global-food-shortages-covid-increased-un-envoy-agnes-kalibata?CMP=share_btn_tw

Johns, M. (2021, June 11). One Year Later: Lessons Learned in the Food Supply Chain. Retrieved from BMO Capital Markets: https://capitalmarkets.bmo.com/en/news-insights/food-consumer-retail/covid-19-insights/one-year-later-lessons-learned-food-supply-chain/

Make Trade More Sustainable and Inclusive, Leaders Say. (2021, June 16). Retrieved from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: 2021

Pearson, J., & Altman, S. A. (2021, May 18). How DHL Express Navigated the Pause — and Rebound — of Global Trade. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2021/05/how-dhl-express-navigated-the-pause-and-rebound-of-global-trade

Phillips, S. (2021, May 15). How COVID-19 Took the Supply Chain to a New Place. Retrieved from Global Trade Magazine: https://www.globaltrademag.com/how-covid-19-took-the-supply-chain-to-a-new-place/

Sova, C. (2021, April 2). After One Year of COVID-19, What Lessons Have We Learned About Hunger? Retrieved from UN World Food Program: https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/after-one-year-of-covid-19-what-lessons-have-we-learned-about-hunger/

Teamwork 'Key to Overcome COVID-Induced Trade Hurdles'. (2021, June 9). Retrieved from Trade Arabia Business News and Information: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/REAL_383327.html

Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks, Oh My! How Intellectual Property Rights Vary Globally 

Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks, Oh My! How Intellectual Property Rights Vary Globally 

Posted on June 30, 2021

Navigating through the process of registering your trademarks and confirming copyrights and patents can be a challenge, but taking those items internationally brings about a whole new set of rules, regulations, and decisions for the future of your business.

Intellectual Property (IP) rights exist to protect innovation. One of the driving forces for change in this world is the innovation of new ideas, processes, materials, and goods. Being able to protect the ideas and innovations, if only for a short period of time, allows the creator to benefit from their ideas financially. The laws give the creator ownership and control over how their creation is used, ultimately allowing them to benefit and recoup the time and investment on their creations.

As far back as 1886, in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, businesses were thinking about protecting intellectual property.  Today, there are more than 25 international treaties on IP, and the world is constantly changing to keep up.

Let's dive into the different types of IPs and how to protect them.

Intellectual Property

Intellection Property (IP) is defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as "creations of the mind – everything from works of art to inventions, computer programs to trademarks and other commercial signs." It refers to a variety of rights by those who create works that are protected under copyright laws, patent laws, and trademark laws. Each item has different laws and regulations based on the type of item/work. We can think of IP as the umbrella over copyrighted, trademarked, and patented materials.

Typically, there are two categories when discussing IP, copyrights, and industrial property rights, including patents, industrial design, and trademarks. Below are some details about each and things to consider before taking your products or services international.

Copyright

Copyrights encompass a large body of work - from individual writings, music, movies, and one-of-a-kind works of art to databases, computer code/programming, maps, and architecture. The copyright allows control over how the distribution of work and the creator's right to be acknowledged. Transfer of copyright is quite common and happens when the original owner gives the rights to someone else to benefit or utilize while also collecting a fee for use (also known as royalties).

Internationally, many copyright laws have both criminal and civil penalties that the copyright owner regulates. Rights are often defined in two categories - economic and moral rights. Economic rights include the right to profit from one's creative project. Moral rights, including the right to be acknowledged and alterations to their work, are limited as not to cause damage to the creator.  Economic rights typically have international time limits, which after the period expires, the work enters the public domain for use. Time limits for moral rights are indefinite in some countries, both others have specific time limits.  While full international copyright does not exist, many international protections and policies are in place through government treaties and agreements.

Industrial Property Rights

Patent

Patents are typically reserved for inventions and provide the patent owner with exclusive rights to the product for a set period of time and legally allow control over who uses, sells, or makes the invention. After the exclusivity time has passed, others can utilize the design.  The key to a patent is that the protection granted is for something completely new, a new product, a new process, or a new solution. Some inventions that may not be eligible for patients include scientific or mathematical theories, flora and fauna species, and medical treatments. These non-patentable items intend to benefit humankind without formal control or restriction.

Domestically and internationally, there is an application process for patents, which varies by region and often involves a fee. It is recommended to seek local legal representation for each international patent application in each country you intend to file.  Some regional patent systems exist where one patent can cover multiple regions, such as the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) or the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT System).

Industrial Design

A little more abstract than a patent, industrial design encompasses a product's look and feel, and is prevalent on the consumer level with a product's design or aesthetic elements and details considered "ornamental." For example, the industrial design could be a new ergonomic chair that is exclusively designed to be unique, the chair itself is just a chair, but the ornaments adorning the chair could be a discerning factor for consumer preferences. Other aspects of industrial design include two-dimensional features like lines, patterns, and colors.

Internationally, for the industrial design protection to apply, the products should show originality and be produced on a larger scale (not a one-of-a-kind piece). Laws vary widely for industrial design and should be carefully considered before beginning the process of registration.

Trademarks

Since ancient times, trademarks have been in practice when Roman brick makers would each have their own mark to signify the maker, gaining a reputation for quality, craftsmanship, or lack thereof. Today, trademarks work in much the same way - to indicate the origin of the goods or maker. There are legal protections to control the use of a specific mark to deter counterfeiters.

The trademark itself can be represented by letters, words, numbers, symbols, colors, or pictures, as well as 3-dimensional designs, packaging, and even sounds. As long as the mark is distinct and not already registered similarly, it can qualify as a trademark. Registration will often be granted for a set period of time and needs renewal. Additionally, trademark registration requires a fee and disclosure of the types of goods and services provided by the mark. Once granted, if the trademark is used fraudulently, the trademark owner has legal ground to defend their product.

Counterfeited goods are harmful to legitimate businesses, and they often support not-so-savory endeavors. They also undermine the IP of the legitimate business, which can damage their reputation and reduce their success.

The best way to protect the IP from counterfeiters is to register the copyright, trademark, industrial design, or patent in each market, country, or territory you intend to use it in. Some countries have a higher amount of counterfeit goods, so it is a good idea to seek out protecting your companies' goods in higher-risk markets first. Other best practices to consider when selling your IP globally are using vetted or reputable dealers or partners in foreign countries and building relationships to understand how your IP will be respected if exported.

Because IP laws and regulations vary widely globally, it is best to engage with international legal advisors to navigate the process. There are several agreements, systems, and treaties that companies can use to maximize their efforts in registering their products for multiple countries all at once.

The WIPO administers 26 treaties regarding IP rights. The list, along with more specific information on treaties, can be found in the references below. The World Trade Organization and its members also utilize the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.

The information presented above is intended to familiarize you with some of the issues regarding IP and variations worldwide. Legal advice is highly recommended for IP questions and legal matters. For more information on legal providers who specialize in international law, please reach out to info@ndto.com

References

Basic Facts About Trademarks: What Every Small Business Should Know. (2021, June). Retrieved from United States Patent and Trademark Office: https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/uspto-videos/basic-facts-about-trademarks-what-every-small-business-should

International Copyright Law. (2021, June ). Retrieved from International Trade Administration: https://legacy.export.gov/article?id=International-Copyright-Law

Trademark Information Network. (2021, June). Retrieved from United States Patent and Trademark Office: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/trademark-information-network

TRIPS — Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. (2021, June ). Retrieved from World Trade Organization: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/trips_e.htm

WIPO-Administered Treaties. (2021, June ). Retrieved from World Intellectual Property Organization: https://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/

World Intellectual Property Organization. (2021, June). Retrieved from https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/

NDTO Creates New Connections to Foster Growth in ND

NDTO Creates New Connections to Foster Growth in ND

Posted on June 17, 2021

The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO), in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Commerce, engaged in eleven meetings with key consulates, country-specific partners, and a handful of associations last week. The primary focus was international trade and investment.

It was wonderful to visit and reestablish relationships with partners and create new connections after living with the pandemic restrictions for the past several months. In most cases, the North Dakota team was the first state delegation to visit their offices in person since the beginning of the pandemic and our new and old friends were thrilled to hear that North Dakota was open for business.

During the meetings, we showcased many of the exciting things happening in our state in the agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and other key industries. One area of focus was a briefing on carbon capture and storage initiatives happening in North Dakota.  Throughout all the meetings, one common tread was that our partners are excited to explore future synergies and connect with North Dakota producers and service providers with their constituents in a variety of industries.

North Dakota continues to take the lead in several industries, and potential customers and partners are lining up to take advantage of the numerous trade and investment opportunities our state has to offer. Small but mighty, our state will be one to watch as the world emerges through the challenges of the pandemic.

-Drew Combs, North Dakota Trade Office Executive Director

Member Profile: Bremer Bank

Member Profile: Bremer Bank

Posted on June 2, 2021

Some people have a knack for banking, foreign exchange, and international business. Combine that with a talent for teaching and passion for people, and you have the team at Bremer Bank. We sat down with Julie Whitney, Fargo/Moorhead Market President, and Christopher Davis, Foreign Exchange (FX) and International Service Manager at Bremer Bank to better understand how ND exporters can benefit from their services.

“Cultivating thriving communities is what we strive to do with all of our customers at Bremer,” says Whitney. With the onslaught of online banking, Whitney explains, larger banks have thrived with digital technologies, but this has disrupted essential values along the way. Bremer is rooted in community values from their founder Otto Bremer, serving across North Dakota, Minnesota, and Western Wisconsin.  In recent years, Bremer has further focused business efforts on commercial and agricultural industries. “We are sharpening our focus on the banking areas where we have the most expertise serving commercial and ag businesses. This is where we can really make a difference,” says Whitney.

Davis has more than 20 years of experience in international banking. He is strengthening the team at Bremer with his extensive foreign exchange and global trade background. With more than 20 years in the global banking industry, he has experience with global payments, currency risk management, and facilitating trade transactions.

When it comes to export businesses, the best advice Davis had is to “engage with the banks early.” Exporters typically engage with banks as the deals are ready for execution, but there is so much more Bremer can do to assist before finalization. Critical considerations regarding foreign currency, payment processing, and timing of payments can save a company time and money, as well as make them more competitive on a global stage. With early engagement, more options can be explored before an export deal takes place. Davis goes on to say that “by having a connection with us sooner, we can really offer more of a trade advisory role to enhance your business dealings.”

When your sales objectives include growth through expanded global trade, Davis also suggests considering a foreign currency pricing strategy. Pricing solely in US dollars could place you at a competitive disadvantage and directly impact your ability to grow your global business. When offering pricing in local currency, you make your product more attractive or competitive in other markets, but this will leave you to manage resulting currency conversion. That’s precisely when engaging Bremer Bank could add value. They can help identify trade and currency risk, assist with developing a foreign pricing program, and create simple solutions to manage currency cash flows while protecting profit margins in the process.

In working with Davis, there is an added touch of assistance with his proactive approach and extensive expertise. He can help identify areas to gain traction, alleviate anxiety around trade payments, and remove the hurdles around foreign exchange. “Working with a business is more of a discovery process for me, learning about their business, their goals, and their global objectives. These conversations are ongoing.  And together, we can find many untapped opportunities,” says Davis. He explains that there is a perception of complexity around foreign exchange, and Bremer works to mitigate that perception and any risks associated with international trade. They take the time and the opportunity to walk each company through the process and cater tools needed for their success. Davis highlights that “we can engage with trade credit insurance companies, international banks, government financing programs, and they can all work in concert to create connections and opportunities.”

Building relationships is a foundation of Bremer. They focus on taking a hands-on and personal approach to a company’s banking needs. “As a community bank, there is an emphasis on a local, but also a depth of services that can be provided,” says Whitney. For international offerings, Davis and the team at Bremer can assist with:

  • Expert Export Advice
  • Foreign Exchange Products and Services
    • Risk Management Services
    • Market Updates and Alerts
  • Hedging Solutions
    • Global Payment Options
  • Pre-Export Working Capital Finance
  • Trade Credit Insurance
  • Loans through SBA and Export-Import Bank of the US
  • Letter of Credit
  • Documentary Collections

More than just a bank, Davis, Whitney, and the whole team at Bremer will bring a personalized approach to your business and exporting goals. They work to reduce risks, barriers, and confusion to harness potential opportunities for their clients.  Davis and the team are happy to open conversations with businesses interested in international sales and needing assistance in demystifying the export process for businesses throughout the region.

For more information in Bremer’s international business services, click here.

Christopher Davis’ contact information can be found below.

Christopher Davis

FX & International Services Mgr.

225 S 6th Street, Suite 200

Minneapolis, MN 55402

612-782-2853

cdavis@bremer.com