El pasado viernes acudí invitado a la presentación del 11 Programa Anual “Building Competitve Advantage in the Global Market USA-Spain”

Es un programa organizado de manera conjunta por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid y  Harvard University en el que durante cuatro días, normalmente en Mayo reúne en el Harvard Faculty Club a empresarios, directivos tanto de USA como de España en un entorno académico de alto nivel para reflexionar sobre las relaciones comerciales de estos dos países en el mercado global en el que todos estamos.

La Directora del Programa Marisa del Pozo es sin duda una de las principales razones por las que este Programa gana cada año en prestigio asentándose como un producto de alta calidad y muy necesario para que dos grandes naciones se conozcan, se aprecien y hagan buenos negocios juntos.

Reencontré en la presentación a Esther Diz, fundadora y directora de Covalingua y Covalingua Services, una empresa hispano americana creada para ayudar a las empresas españolas interesadas en implantarse en USA.

Ella, Esther, me ha pasado las notas de la interesante conferencia que dio el Profesor Krishna G. Palepu consejero del Presidente de Harvard en Globalización y una eminencia que pasa seis meses en Shangai y seis meses en Harvad dando clases, aunque ahora esté en el IESE de Barcelona.

Krishna Palepu Harvard professor in Globalization – transcription from lecture at the US Embassy. Madrid, January 18th

What does it take to be relevant and impactful these days?

I make an effort to continually learn from the world and to be at the center of global talk.

I will share my impressions from my past months in Shanghai.

I am an optimistic. No crisis is as bad as it seems when you are in the middle of it and no boom is as good as it seems when you are in the middle of it.

Where is China heading? There is great optimism due to the fact that theirs is the highest growth rate in the world.
Many people in china in their 50s still tend to pigs these days. There are 2 Chinas: urban and rural and they seldom mix.
They are working hard on improving productivity and to attract more and more FDI. The reason why China increases FDI is because they open themselves to the world and invest in infrastructure. Productivity improvement ultimately leads to wage increases and/or to the increase or share holders benefit.  20% of their improvement has had an impact on wages and therefore consumers.

Chinas’ obsession with productivity increase is based on an obsession to sell more and more to end consumers, particularly Americans.
That is why the US has a great deficit with China. I can by a huge tv in the US for 700 USD  while in China I must pay 3000 USD for the same TV.

At some point this game needs to change.
When? How is china going to shift?
There is a more consumption based economy for domestic consumption. There will be a dramatic change but it is not clear when and how and the impact that this change will have in the rest of the world. Japan for example has not been able to make the change easily in the past 20 years. Now there are two chinas the rural china and he urban china. China is at the point of inflexion but change is always hard to take place.

The US has experience with expanding location. The US has become too consumption led whereas China has become too production led.
Chinese companies are afraid to rise prices and the US has been borrowing too much from China.

China continues to finance the US deficit because it won’t raise it’s prices.
The US has had a tremendous real estate crisis. Unprecedented. Yet, only 5 years later things looks very good.
US economy is willing to change, reabsorb and reinvent itself.
The energy boom came from small entrepreneurs selling new technologies. Today it has become a big story. By the next decade the US will be the largest energy producer as per the past energy department report.

Imagine a world where the US does not depend on thirds for energy. The US guarantees energy supply for the rest of the world.
US Economy is driven by its willingness to change, innovate and it’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Now lets talk about Europe and Spain.
The stories about China rising from asses and its current relation with the US tell us that the crisis is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. It gives politicians and excuse to make changes and forces people to be more strategic. Lets reconsider what the end result can be. The most important is to teach my children that we are living in a highly dependent and interconnected world. We need to learn from each other and understand that competition is now global. If that lesson must be fundamentally internalized.

You cannot succeed in Latin America unless you have a presence in the US because the relationship and  business mindset is deeply interconnected.

People always ask me about the key to succeed in emerging markets. What people in emerging markets are looking for is reasonably priced solutions of good quality.

They cannot afford high prices used in the west and are willing to use second quality solutions. Nestlé is selling different products in china and India. Fair/good quality for a reasonable price is what emerging markets are looking for. It is a great opportunity for Spanish companies.

American consumers just like everyone else today want good quality for reasonable prices. They are in many cases selling at cost. The promise nowadays is

I buy at 1 dollar and sell at 1.07

I am a Costco member

People are not willing to pay a dime more for anything and are too smart shoppers. This way they can afford vacation, a new watch, etc.

For instance you want to buy Don perignon today you go to Costco today and not to the medium size wine store.

About Small entrepreneurs

(Texas, nine years ago)

During dinner a friend of mine tells me that he has sold his farm to an oil company. Which company is it? He told me the name. It was not a well known company. Three years ago he told me that he sold land under his house to a gas drilling company. Now, who would allow companies to drill under their House? Texas people are willing to sign up and allow it. At the end of the day this is about ordinary people willing to change and take risks. This is the best example of US ordinary people who are willing to sell to unknown companies. In Europe people are not willing to sign up for unproven things this way.

China (continued)

This china reality might be taken to excess. Outsourcing to china and china manufacturing has been taken to the extreme. Global supply chain and global manufacturing is a global symphony despite the US efforts to bring manufacturing back home.

Transportation costs will have a great impact on the future of global supply chain. Manu other countries besides china are looking for their opportunity to contribute to the global supply chain symphony.

The global supply chain structure will be based on the productivity and innovation  capabilities of each country.
Productivity is a very important issue
Innovation is the other point.
Most products offer solutions and a big part of comsumption trends are based on the solution that you are offering focused on productivity and innovation.

Gracias Esther

Saludos