Guide Language As Commodity: Global Structures, Local Marketplaces

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Throughout human history, languages have been in competition with each other. As the world becomes more globalized, this trend increases.
Table of contents

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Dewey: W, and Rani Rubdy. London: Continuum, APA: Tan, P. Language as commodity : global structures, local marketplaces. London: Continuum. Chicago: Tan, Peter K. Countertrade can also be used to stimulate home industries or where raw materials are in short supply.

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It can, also, give a basis for reciprocal trade. Countertrade is the modem form of barter, except contracts are not legal and it is not covered by GATT. It can be used to circumvent import quotas. Countertrade can take many forms. Basically two separate contracts are involved, one for the delivery of and payment for the goods supplied and the other for the purchase of and payment for the goods imported. The performance of one contract is not contingent on the other although the seller is in effect accepting products and services from the importing country in partial or total settlement for his exports.

There is a broad agreement that countertrade can take various forms of exchange like barter, counter purchase, switch trading and compensation buyback. Information on potential exchange can be obtained from embassies, trade missions or the EU trading desks. Barter is the direct exchange of one good for another, although valuation of respective commodities is difficult, so a currency is used to underpin the item's value.

Barter trade can take a number of formats. Simple barter is the least complex and oldest form of bilateral, non-monetarised trade. Often it is called "straight", "classical" or "pure" barter. Barter is a direct exchange of goods and services between two parties. Shadow prices are approximated for products flowing in either direction.

Generally no middlemen are involved. Usually contracts for no more than one year are concluded, however, if for longer life spans, provisions are included to handle exchange ratio fluctuations when world prices change. Closed end barter deals are modifications of straight barter in that a buyer is found for goods taken in barter before the contract is signed by the two trading parties. No money is involved and risks related to product quality are significantly reduced. Clearing account barter, also termed clearing agreements, clearing arrangements, bilateral clearing accounts or simply bilateral clearing, is where the principle is for the trades to balance without either party having to acquire hard currency.

In this form of barter, each party agrees in a single contract to purchase a specified and usually equal value of goods and services. The duration of these transactions is commonly one year, although occasionally they may extend over a longer time period. The contract's value is expressed in non-convertible, clearing account units also termed clearing dollars that effectively represent a line of credit in the central bank of the country with no money involved.

Clearing account units are universally accepted for the accounting of trade between countries and parties whose commercial relationships are based on bilateral agreements. The contract sets forth the goods to be exchanged, the rates of exchange, and the length of time for completing the transaction. Limited export or import surpluses may be accumulated by either party for short periods. Generally, after one year's time, imbalances are settled by one of the following approaches: credit against the following year, acceptance of unwanted goods, payment of a previously specified penalty or payment of the difference in hard currency.

Trading specialists have also initiated the practice of buying clearing dollars at a discount for the purpose of using them to purchase saleable products. In turn, the trader may forfeit a portion of the discount to sell these products for hard currency on the international market. Compared with simple barter, clearing accounts offer greater flexibility in the length of time for drawdown on the lines of credit and the types of products exchanged.

Counter purchase, or buyback, is where the customer agrees to buy goods on condition that the seller buys some of the customer's own products in return compensatory products. Alternatively, if exchange is being organised at national government level then the seller agrees to purchase compensatory goods from an unrelated organisation up to a pre-specified value offset deal. The difference between the two is that contractual obligations related to counter purchase can extend over a longer period of time and the contract requires each party to the deal to settle most or all of their account with currency or trade credits to an agreed currency value.

Where the seller has no need for the item bought he may sell the produce on, usually at a discounted price, to a third party. This is called a switch deal. In the past a number of tractors have been brought into Zimbabwe from East European countries by switch deals. Compensation buy-backs is where the supplier agrees to take the output of the facility over a specified period of time or to a specified volume as payment. For example, an overseas company may agree to build a plant in Zambia, and output over an agreed period of time or agreed volume of produce is exported to the builder until the period has elapsed.

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The plant then becomes the property of Zambia. Khoury 6 categorises countertrade as follows see figure 7. These are ever growing in size. Despite these problems countertrade is likely "to grow as a major indirect entry method, especially in developing countries. Foreign production Besides exporting, other market entry strategies include licensing, joint ventures, contract manufacture, ownership and participation in export processing zones or free trade zones. Licensing: Licensing is defined as "the method of foreign operation whereby a firm in one country agrees to permit a company in another country to use the manufacturing, processing, trademark, know-how or some other skill provided by the licensor".

It is quite similar to the "franchise" operation. Coca Cola is an excellent example of licensing. In Zimbabwe, United Bottlers have the licence to make Coke. Licensing involves little expense and involvement. The only cost is signing the agreement and policing its implementation. Those who decide to license ought to keep the options open for extending market participation. This can be done through joint ventures with the licensee.

Joint ventures Joint ventures can be defined as "an enterprise in which two or more investors share ownership and control over property rights and operation". Joint ventures are a more extensive form of participation than either exporting or licensing. If the partners carefully map out in advance what they expect to achieve and how, then many problems can be overcome. However, as mentioned earlier, repatriation of earnings and capital has to be carefully monitored.

The more unstable the environment the less likely is the ownership pathway an option. These forms of participation: exporting, licensing, joint ventures or ownership, are on a continuum rather than discrete and can take many formats. Anderson and Coughlan 8 summarise the entry mode as a choice between company owned or controlled methods - "integrated" channels - or "independent" channels. Integrated channels offer the advantages of planning and control of resources, flow of information, and faster market penetration, and are a visible sign of commitment.

The disadvantages are that they incur many costs especially marketing , the risks are high, some may be more effective than others due to culture and in some cases their credibility amongst locals may be lower than that of controlled independents.

Language as commodity: Global structures, local marketplaces

Independent channels offer lower performance costs, risks, less capital, high local knowledge and credibility. Disadvantages include less market information flow, greater coordinating and control difficulties and motivational difficulties. In addition they may not be willing to spend money on market development and selection of good intermediaries may be difficult as good ones are usually taken up anyway.

Once in a market, companies have to decide on a strategy for expansion. One may be to concentrate on a few segments in a few countries - typical are cashewnuts from Tanzania and horticultural exports from Zimbabwe and Kenya - or concentrate on one country and diversify into segments.

Other activities include country and market segment concentration - typical of Coca Cola or Gerber baby foods, and finally country and segment diversification.

Questions remain

Another way of looking at it is by identifying three basic business strategies: stage one - international, stage two - multinational strategies correspond to ethnocentric and polycentric orientations respectively and stage three - global strategy corresponds with geocentric orientation.

The basic philosophy behind stage one is extension of programmes and products, behind stage two is decentralisation as far as possible to local operators and behind stage three is an integration which seeks to synthesize inputs from world and regional headquarters and the country organisation.

Whilst most developing countries are hardly in stage one, they have within them organisations which are in stage three. This has often led to a "rebellion" against the operations of multinationals, often unfounded. They are primarily an investment incentive for would be investors but can also provide employment for the host country and the transfer of skills as well as provide a base for the flow of goods in and out of the country. One of the best examples is the Mauritian EPZ 12 , founded in the s. And plastics. In job employment the results have been startling, as at , 78, were employed in the EPZ. Export earnings have tripled from to and the added value has been significant- The roots of success can be seen on the supply, demand and institutional sides.

On the supply side the most critical factor has been the generous financial and other incentives, on the demand side, access to the EU, France, India and Hong Kong was very tempting to investors. On the institutional side positive schemes were put in place, including finance from the Development Bank and the cutting of red tape. In setting up the export processing zone the Mauritian government displayed a number of characteristics which in hindsight, were crucial to its success. Organisations are faced with a number of strategy alternatives when deciding to enter foreign markets. Each one has to be carefully weighed in order to make the most appropriate choice.

Every approach requires careful attention to marketing, risk, matters of control and management. A systematic assessment of the different entry methods can be achieved through the use of a matrix see table 7. Special features of commodity trade As has been pointed out time and again in this text, the international marketing of agricultural products is a "close coupled" affair between production and marketing and end user. Certain characteristics can be identified in market entry strategies which are different from the marketing of say cars or television sets. Such arrangements have improved the flow of money, information and technologies, and very importantly, shared the risk between producers and exporters.