Another NFL season football has come and gone, and the
big game did not disappoint. It was a game for the ages, among the most
entertaining in our modern football era. However, I considered turning the game
off after halftime as Atlanta appeared to be coasting to victory. Fortunately,
I was steadfast and told myself to just watch one more series after another,
hoping it would get better, until it became not only interesting, but
As I reflect back on the game and season, I am
struck by several observations that are relevant to all of us who are focused
on operating our businesses and positively affecting our areas of
responsibility. Like in football where you strive to outscore your opponent, we
are all laser focused on improving our bottom lines. How do we transform raw
ingredients into the highest quality finished goods with less overhead, optimal
material, and labor costs all the while maximizing the usage of our assets in
the process? We not only have to compete with others in the open market, we have
to continuously improve relative to our historical performance in order to
position ourselves to be successful.
I consider the reasons why the New England Patriots have been so dominant over
the last decade, I am left with one conclusion. While the easiest assumption
would be to attribute their success to having arguably the best quarterback to
have ever played the game, I prefer to think it is more fundamental than simply
one player. Like any organization, football is a team sport. While you need
quality players, perhaps even a few stars, you need everyone working together as
a unit, towards one goal: winning championships.
Green Bay Packers Coach, Vince Lombardi once said, “The achievements of an organization
are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Today’s successful
teams preach a message of next player up, focusing on the philosophy that
success is not solely about an individual, that it is really the team that is fundamental
to winning. Players get injured, others are lost to free agency; however, the
winning teams seem to doggedly focus on the process of developing, training,
and maximizing the talents of each of their individual players to perform as a
team. When unfavorable personnel events happen, these teams are positioned to
continue winning in spite of the personnel challenges.
As in football, we often
lose our “players” for one reason or another, and we must guard against losing
the momentum we have worked so hard to achieve. Each successful organization
has a goal and vision of where they want to be at the end of each quarter, each
year, or even five years. A team approach is critical in meeting the challenges
along the way. When an organization faces the inevitable turnover of seasoned
workers, it must guard against losing its ability to compete and win. It really
is next man up.
As you focus on equipping
your team on driving the results that define wining for your organization,
please keep in mind that you have a partner in Aptean. Factory MES is a
powerful tool, providing the essential real time metrics needed to make
intelligent decisions to improve your operational activities; however, due to
turnover, your team may be faced with a gap in proficiency with the system. We
want to work together with you to help you achieve your goals, and be best
prepared when it becomes time to rely on the next man up, we want to help with
any training needs you may have. Please reach out to us and we will work
together to develop and deliver training that is specific and tailored to your
In 2016 the world was surprised by the passing of Brexit and
Trump winning the US Presidential election. Looking to 2017 from a global trade
perspective, these events make one prediction certain: trade barriers in the
Western Hemisphere will not be lowered.
To what extent there will be an increase in tariff and non-tariff
barriers is unclear, but there is no time like the present to speculate a
An interesting year is ahead, and it’s being kicked off on
January 1 with the 2017 Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature overhaul per the
latest World Customs Organization (WCO) directions. These changes to the HS Nomenclature will be
one of the largest in recent years, with more than half of the changes
impacting codes in the agricultural and chemical sectors. In total, there will be 233 sets of amendment
revisions. These revisions are meant to address growing global concern around
environmental and social issues as well as the importance of collecting HC
With customs professionals expressing a growing concern about their supply chain compliance/Global Trade Management (GTM) challenges,
the recent political events in the UK and US have led to increasing uncertainty
in the industry. Be prepared for an exciting 2017!
The average global rates have decreased over the years, yet the
question is whether 2017 will buck that trend.
Will the USA walk away from bilateral or multi-lateral Free Trade
Agreements (FTAs), ban countries from General System of Preference (GSP), or increase
duty rates for certain countries of origin to protect domestic manufacturing? Will
Brexit have an effect on the UK – European Union (EU) duty rates? How will the UK re-create their own external
tariff and will it be able to break off UK FTAs from the current EU FTAs? A
step further, it is to be seen if any of these events will affect duty rates
(initially) on a unilateral basis, if there will be repercussions, and whether a
tit-for-tat culture will initiate a tariff war?
It’s all not too likely. Negating
FTAs is not easily done, and the UK will be cautious to create any economic upheaval
that may negatively affect their status as a financial leader in the market.
However, the prospect of an increase in duty rates is
realistic as a number of large economic forces will be closely reviewing their
trade agreements and tariff structures.
Who would have thought the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade
Organisation (GATT/WTO) bound rates books would ever have to be dusted off to
check possible rate increases would not violate these agreements?
Additionally, two other events could impact duties in
2017. It can be expected that the US
will increase pressure on low cost manufacturing, which would lead to a
significant number of new Anti-dumping duties/Countervailing Duties (ADD/CVD)
cases as unilateral duty increases are possibly too obvious. Lastly, China’s growing debt may threaten
current economic stability, but the association with duty rates will likely not
be seen in 2017.
Most likely there will be additional paperwork required for
goods to move between the UK and the EU, and equally likely there will be UK
FTA specific documentation requirements once it is clear how the UK will
rearrange its trade relationships with the current EU FTA partners.
On the artificial side of trade barriers, some token reactionary
measures may be taken to hamper certain trade lanes (read: importing from
China), but expect additional non-tariff barriers to be more in the security,
trademark, and consumer marking areas, specifically security around additional
compliance measures for dual-use goods (a global trend), a stricter enforcement
of trademarked goods, and closer reviews of consumer marking where safety of
products containing certain materials is concerned. For example, ‘simple’
accidents like smart phones catching fire will pave the way for more agencies
ensuring all imported products are safe for handling.
Some 2017 predictions
And now the unofficial 2017 predictions:
Sensibly common ground will be found and China
manufacturing will continue as is, although there will be a face saving
announcement about increased market accessibility of foreign products into
China. This agreement will bear little result.
FTA utilization rates will improve. A common compliance standard (i.e. proof of
eligibility) will be agreed on and this will boost the use of FTAs.
Hopefully, the WCO announces that in 2022 they
will randomly make products obsolete by no longer allowing them to be
classified (i.e. any logical or possible HS codes will specifically exclude
these products). Under consideration are
items such as flip phones, satchels, Yanni CD’s, and toy panda bears holding
One thing is for
certain, 2017 will prove to be an interesting year in the Global Trade