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  • U.S.-Cuba Relations - What Does the Future Hold?

    by Lori Odom | Jun 29, 2015

    A quien madruga, Dios lo ayuda.” -- The early bird catches the worm

    Nearly six months ago, President Obama initiated a plan by which Cuba and the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations. In April, leaders of the two nations met face-to-face for the first time since the countries severed ties in 1961. For those who hope to find business opportunities in Cuba, the changes can’t come soon enough.

    “The next and ultimately final step in allowing American business will be lifting the 53-year trade embargo, which would allow full and unfettered investment in Cuba,” said Christopher Peake of Peake Communication, a Chamber member who frequently travels to Cuba for business. “The president has relaxed restrictions on some imports, travel and telecommunications, so those three businesses are beginning to take shape.”

    The island nation of 11 million has guaranteed access to health care, a higher literacy rate and a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. Adjustments to the trade embargo have allowed more U.S. agriculture and medical supplies to flow into Cuba with hopes that increased relations could prove favorable for trade between the U.S. and other Latin American countries.

    Exporting primarily food and agriculture products, the U.S. ...

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  • Partnership Between Israel and the American South: From Mere Acquaintances to Best Friends

    by Lori Odom | Jun 25, 2015
    Guest post by John Scannapieco, International Business Council board member and co-chair of Baker Donelson's global business team

    Israel is the "startup nation." The country’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and focus on innovation have led to its rise in the global economy and its predominance in the Middle East. The economic emergence of the American South shares similar attributes to Israel; these states are fast becoming the economic engine for the United States. As Israel and the American South continue to grow, businesses have been looking to form new partnerships and expand trade and investment opportunities between the two regions. These relationships could become invaluable, especially in the event of a crisis.

    So where do Israeli companies usually look? They look in Boston, New York and Silicon Valley. Businesses in the American South routinely look to Europe and Asia. Based on my work with global companies, I know how often Israeli companies overlook the American South and, similarly, how U.S. companies often overlook Israel. Yet, each state in the South tells a unique story of economic growth and global opportunity that often goes unnoticed in international circles, but fits Israel’s growth trajectory well. For example, Georgia is home to many global ...
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  • Promoting the Tennessee-Japan Trade Relationship

    by Lori Odom | Jun 11, 2015

    Japan is Middle Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, with approximately 65 companies employing more than 15,000 people. The Chamber's International Business Council supports this economic pillar through our connection with the Japan-America Society of Tennessee (JAST), a nonprofit that promotes the prosperous bilateral relationship between Tennessee and Japan.

    In his role as JAST board chair, Chamber President & CEO Ralph Schulz will be playing a large role in JAST’s Annual Membership Weekend, to be held Friday and Saturday, June 26-27, in Nashville at Gaylord Springs Golf Links.

    Friday features a special evening exclusively for JAST members and their invited guests. The occasion serves as the Society's official welcome to newly appointed Consul General of Japan The Honorable Masami Kinefuchi and his wife, who arrived in Nashville in late April.

    Saturday morning is highlighted by the 2015 Invitational Golf Classic, a half-day of a friendly, yet competitive, 18 holes on one of Middle Tennessee's finest golf courses. Prepare for a great day of networking and prizes!

    If you are not a JAST member, it’s not too late to join and take part in this great series of events. For more information, check out jastweekend.eventbrite.com or call 615-663-6060 or email jastninfo@jastn.org...

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  • Chamber's International Business Council Welcomes New Japanese Consul-General

    by Lori Odom | May 06, 2015
    The Chamber welcomes Masami Kinefuchi, newly appointed consul-general of Japan, to Nashville! Consul-General Kinefuchi arrived in Music City in late April and has already begun meeting and greeting state and local leadership. He assumes the role held by Motohiko Kato, who was reassigned to the Japanese Embassy in London following two and a half years in Nashville.

    Kinefuchi’s career has spanned multiple posts and positions within Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including high-ranking roles at embassies in Canada, Australia, Pakistan and Egypt. His most recent posting was as assistant vice minister of justice in Tokyo, serving as deputy director-general for the Immigration Bureau.

    Kinefuchi is a graduate of the National Defense Academy of Japan, and holds advanced degrees from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

    The Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville has jurisdiction over five states – Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The office provides consular services to Japanese nationals, as well as cultural and educational outreach, and encourages deeper economic relationships between Japan and the U.S. Japan is Middle Tennessee’s largest foreign investor nation, with approximately 65 companies employing more than 15,000 people. The Chamber's International Business Council looks forward to continuing our close ...

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  • Cherry Blossoms, Exporting to Europe and More International Happenings in Nashville

    by Lori Odom | Apr 09, 2015

    International events and opportunities are abundant in Middle Tennessee over the next few weeks. Here’s a sampling of what’s in store.  

    Celebrate Japanese cultural connections at this Saturday’s Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival. This family-friendly, free event features more than 20 food trucks and Japanese food vendors; shopping; and cultural lectures and displays, along with taiko drummers and a day packed full of entertainment. The weather promises to be beautiful, and free parking is available at LP Field – check it out!

    Joining this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival will be a delegation from Nashville’s sister city of Kamakura, Japan. This group has embraced the cultural side of the relationship by forming the Nashville-Kamakura Friendship Band, who will perform on the main stage at 10:35 a.m. If you are interested in learning more about the Kamakura-Nashville exchange, check out Sister Cities of Nashville.

    Closing out the weekend on Sunday, April 12, is “Blossoms and Brews,” a celebration of spring, cherry blossoms, Japanese culture and local delicious beer. Presented by JAST Young Professionals, the event takes place at Yazoo Brewery from 2 to 5 p.m.

    On Wednesday, April 15, Lipscomb University will host Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former secretary general of NATO, at ...

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  • White House Official Visits Nashville Region to Discuss Impact of Trade

    by Lori Odom | Mar 19, 2015
    I recently joined Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper and Jerry Abramson, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, for a tour of Goodlettsville-based manufacturer Des-Case and a discussion of how exports to overseas markets promote U.S. job growth.

    The Des-Case visit comes as President Obama is proposing expanded trade promotion authority to three of America’s top four export markets: Canada, Mexico and the U.K. The White House is also asking Congress to approve new trade agreements with the European Union and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Des-Case has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Nashville Export Assistance Center to expand its reach to markets in Central and South America, and, more recently, to Australia and the Philippines.

    Nashville is among the top 40 exporting metro areas in the U.S., exporting nearly $9 billion of locally produced goods around the globe. The Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) saw exports grow by more than 35 percent from 2012 to 2013, the most recent year for available statistics. More than 1,600 companies in the Nashville MSA are exporters of products or services to foreign markets; 82 percent of those are classified as small or ...
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  • Proposed Transatlantic Trade Agreement a 'Game-Changer'

    by Lori Odom | Feb 25, 2015
    The EU and U.S. economies combined represent half the world's global GDP, and the two economies have long enjoyed a mutually beneficial trade relationship. On Feb. 25, members of our International Business Council heard from an expert panel about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its implications on the global economy.

    TTIP is a proposed comprehensive free trade agreement between the U.S. and the 28 member states of the European Union. Guest panelists Klint Alexander, of Baker Donelson's Global Business Team; Consuls General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Christoph Sander of Germany; and David Short, FedEx Express, described TTIP as a "game-changer" that will level the playing field for U.S. and EU businesses.

    The agreement seeks to streamline the trading process between the two global economic giants by reducing or eliminating tariffs and harmonizing regulatory standards for health and safety -- both of which currently create bureaucratic costs that are passed along to consumers. Our experts predicted that the successful negotiation of TTIP will usher in a new era in transatlantic relations, and would also increase exports, create jobs, boost production and grow the economies of all the nations involved.

    If successful, TTIP can ...
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  • Take Your Business Global With Free Exporting Advice

    by Lori Odom | Jan 26, 2015
    Did you know that 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, and that 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is outside the U.S.?

    Exporting is an excellent way to grow your small or midsized business. If there is a market for your product in the U.S., there is definitely a market for your product overseas. Going global can only grow your market and increase its receptivity. Getting involved internationally decreases your business’ sole reliance on the American economy, thereby increasing opportunity for longevity and stability. As trade grows exponentially and trade barriers fall, staying domestic means missing opportunities.

    TNTrade provides free services to help Tennessee businesses expand internationally. Since 2012, the state-run program has helped more than 200 businesses connect with companies in Mexico, the UK, the EU and China. With the support of in-state export specialists and foreign offices, a company can receive one set of services from up to two different markets per year. These can include market checks, market strategies, market entry requirements, business partner searches, and trade events and travel assistance. The best part? These services are offered at no cost to you.

    To make exporting easy for Tennessee businesses, ...
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  • Foreign Diplomats to Highlight U.S.-EU Trade Relations

    by Lori Odom | Jan 20, 2015
    Fact of the day: The U.S. and EU economies together account for nearly half of global GDP and about one-third of all international trade. This translates to $2.7 billion in goods and services flowing each day and $4 trillion invested in each other's economies, supporting more than 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU. The successful negotiation of the new TTIP is projected to create a market force of 800 million consumers and the potential for billions of dollars in new exports and thousands of new jobs in the United States and Europe, helping not just large companies and workers, but the small and medium enterprises that make up the backbone of both economies.

    The Chamber's International Business Council, in partnership with Baker Donelson, invites you to learn more about TTIP on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. A panel discussion featuring Great Britain and Northern Ireland Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford and Consul General Christoph Sander of Germany will highlight U.S. and EU trade relations and offer an update on TTIP. For ...
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  • Hong Kong Economic and Trade Officials Visit Nashville

    by Lori Odom | Nov 14, 2014
    Steve Barclay, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO), made his first trip to Nashville this week. Based in New York, he is responsible for promoting and strengthening the business, trade and cultural ties between Hong Kong and 31 eastern states of the United States.

    Barclay was appointed in August of this year. He has served in a wide variety of posts within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, with policy responsibilities including consumer protection, intellectual property, housing and environmental protection. Most recently, Barclay served as director of the HKETO in Sydney, Australia.

    Along with meeting Chamber leadership, Barclay’s visit to Nashville included attending the Governor’s Conference on Economic and Community Development and speaking engagements at Vanderbilt and Lipscomb.

    Hong Kong-owned companies account for approximately 200 jobs in the Nashville MSA and a state trade relationship valued at more than $292 million.


    L-R: Gene Hanratty of the Hong Kong Information Center Atlanta and Steve Barclay

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