Sorry, Can’t Hear You… There’s an Elephant in the Room

A trade summit with China last week neglected to address the most pressing trade problem facing our two nations head on: how to resolve the conflict surrounding the US’ tariff on Chinese-manufactured car tires, which (of course) is linked to their hitting us with a similar tariff on chickens. There’s nothing to do but escalate and retaliate, it seems… in response to the US’ 35% tariff on imported tires imposed in September, the Chinese will start an anti-dumping investigation on US-made cars.

There’s a succinct piece in the 1 November wsj.com’s Opinion Asia section that lays it out nicely. My sense is that there are too many political rumbles taking place on both sides of the Pacific for either side to back down. It’s a matter of what the country’s respective adiminstrations deem to be worth fighting over. We’re in for a long period of “happy ears” diplomatic and trade meetings between envoys with no skin in the game but only the need to sustain their influence. There’ll be dropping and adding tariffs and investigations, until one side lets the free market reign. Wouldn’t hold my breath.

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Stalking Healthy Alternatives at 2009 Natural Products Expo West

There are no bad days at a trade show where a potluck of world delicacies is featured as giveaways. There’s a spring in my step whenever I enter Expo West in Anaheim, CA. Maybe it’s the thrill of rubbing elbows with über-healthy people who are passionate about nutrition and keeping bodies in good working order, inside and out. Or, it could be that I’m like a fine thoroughbred heading for the feed bag.  Where else can you tantalize your tongue with smoky tapas of Spain’s finest jamón Serrano and wash it down with Ayala’s Herbal Water, (Lavender Mint flavor, by the way…) which was created by a pediatrician on a quest to provide healthy, tasty beverages for her family and friends?

In every aisle, “chow-n-chat” sessions proved that sellers and makers of healthy, organic foods and personal care products see gold in the modern consumer’s quest for balanced living and responsible consumerism.  All those “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” moments reminded me that the natural food and personal care industry is full of innovative folks with can’t-lose attitudes and the guts to make products that are both healthy and tasty. The result? Smart, novel, and tasty products like new Buddy Fruits fruit paste in a squeeze tube from Ouhlala in France (as in Ooh La La!), perfect for lunches; Pukka Herbs, from clever Brits who craft herbal teas and personal care; and Fruitwell, freeze-dried fruit snacks from the Pacific Northwest, aka God’s Country (so says Grandma Julie).

Stories of regional allure abound at Expo West. Hawaii Kai, maker of pure sea salts from Molokai, tells of their microeconomic business model that honors the island’s quest for the delicate balance between nature and commerce, while resurrecting the time-honored Hawaiian craft of salt making. Also on hand was the self-described “rocket-scientist-turned-spice connoisseur” whose Awaken Savor handcrafted blends enhance regional cuisines. Canaan Fair Trade’s delicacies and personal care lines from Palestine promote Fair Trade.

The presence of marquee exhibitors like Clif Bar and Aubrey Organics sets a smart, confident tone that rubs off on smaller exhibitors, and reminds everyone who has a stake in the game that growth, success, and brand dominance are within reach. 

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