Crossing Borders

What do French Farmers, Chinese Fisherman, and Russian hackers have in common?

They can all disrupt American firms’ international marketing efforts.

Thousands of supporters and activists gathered recently to show support for a French sheep farmer on trial for vandalizing a local McDonalds. Jose Bove has become an international legend of anti-globalization. Leader of the French Peasant confederation he has demonized the fast food chain as the symbol of American trade “hegemony” and economic globalization. He and nine other farmers served six weeks in jail and paid fines for partially destroying the restaurant. Most recently, Bove has been thrown in jail again, this time for ten months, for damaging fields of genetically modified rice and corn.

Local fisherman demanded suspension of reclamation and dredging of a bay near Hong Kong where Disney has built Hong Kong Disneyland. The fisherman claim that the work has plunged water quality near the site to levels much worse than predicted killing huge numbers of fish. The spokesman for the fisherman claims they have lost some $ 30 million between July and September because of depleted and diseased fish stocks.

St Petersburg has in a decade become the capital of Russian computer hackers. These are same folks that are reputed to have invaded Microsoft’s internal network.

Russia’s science city has become the natural hub for high-tech computer crime. Dozens of students, teachers, and computer specialists hack into computers, seeing themselves as members of an exciting subculture that has flourished since the fall of communism. Before glasnost and perestroika, those who were dissatisfied with official soviet culture trend to samizdat literature and bootleg tapes of Western pop music. But the Gorbachev era left little to rebel against. Today, Russia’s hackers, who even have their own magazine, titled Khacker, have created a new underground culture that perhaps offers more excitement than passing around banned poetry. The city also benefits from being near Baltic States. Programs are copied on the black market; the latest Windows pirate always arrives in Russia months before it appears in the West. Yes, fines and prison terms are consequences if caught. But computers are readily accessible at the universities and increasingly in homes.

The international of US Business:

Current interest in international marketing can be explained by changing competitive structures coupled with shifts in demand characteristics in markets throughout the world. With the increasing globalization of markets, companies find they are unavoidably enmeshed with foreign customers, competitors and suppliers, even within their own borders. They face competition on all fronts from domestic firms and from foreign firms. A significant portion of all CD players, computers, apparel and dinnerware sold in the United States is foreign made. Sony, Laura Ashley, Norelco, Samsung, Toyota, and Nescafe are familiar brands in the United States, and for US industry they are formidable opponents in a competitive struggle for US and world markets.

Many familiar US companies are now foreign controlled or headed in that direction. When you drop in at a 7 Eleven convenience store or buy Firestone tires, you are buying directly from a Japanese company. Some well known brands no longer owned by US companies are Carnation (Swiss) , Chrysler (German) and the all American Smith and Wesson handgun that win the US West, which is owned by a British firm. The last US owned company to manufacture TV sets was Zenith, but even it was acquired by South Korea’s LGY Electronics, Inc., which manufacturers Gold star TVs and other products. Pearle Vision, Universal Studios and many more are currently owned or controlled by foreign multinational businesses (see below)

Foreign Acquisitions of US companies>

US Companies Foreign Owner

Firestone (tires) Japan
Ben & jerry’s (ice cream) UK
Alpo (pet food) Switzerland
Burger King (fast food) UK
Random House (publishing) Germany
Chrysler (autos) Germany
TV Guide (magazine) Australia
New York Post (newspaper) Australia
Oroweat (breads) Mexico
Smith and Wesson (guns) UK
RCA (televisions) France / China
Chef America (Hot Pockets and
Other foods) Switzerland
[IBM] Think pad (personal computers) China
Huffy Corp. ( bicycles) China

Foreign investment in the United States is more than $9.6 trillion, some $ 2.6 trillion more than American overseas investment. Companies from the United Kingdom lead the group of investors, with companies from the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, and Switzerland following in that order.