the path to finding better experts

How to Get a Kitchen Built Outside

When you’re trying to stay up to date on all of the different kinds
of outdoor landscaping ideas that are floating around, you’ll notice
that outdoor kitchens are becoming especially popular. The truth is that
there’s nothing quite like being able to have people over to your home
and giving them the chance to see you cook their food from a kitchen
that’s sitting right in your back yard.

You should be sure to hire the best possible contractors, though, if
you’re serious about getting an outdoor kitchen that suits all of your
particular needs. You’ll have to know where to start looking for these
kinds of workers. By using the information in this article, it’s going
to be a lot easier for you to get a sense of where to begin.

If you’re trying to figure out how to find the kinds of outdoor
contractors that you want to trust with your outdoor kitchen, you should
first turn to the internet. The truth is that the best contractors are
going to be very easy to find once you’ve been able to get online and
see what kinds of information is available out there. You can do a quick
online search and come upon all kinds of great contractor websites that
will clue you in to the experience and the general know-how that these
contractors have. It’s also possible to find many online reviews that
can give you even further insight into their abilities.
What Do You Know About Services

It’s easy to see that there are many considerations to keep in mind
when you’re looking to develop the right sort of outdoor kitchen
project. Once you’ve managed to find the right kinds of outdoor
landscaping and construction teams who can handle the work you have in
mind, there is no doubt that you’re going to start seeing some
incredible results in no time.

10 Gadget Trends For 2009

One of the most interesting things about the beginning period of any year is looking forward to what might happen for the next twelve months.

While electronics have been a solid prospect with buyers in previous years some are looking at the current economic conditions and wondering how they will fare for 2009

Without wanting to jinx anything things don’t look like they will be as bad as people think with electronics remaining on many people’s wish lists for the next twelve months.

Outside of that, what else is likely to happen in 2009?

Here are 10 events and trends I think we will see in 2009:

Prediction#1 High definition and high resolution gadgets will continue to gain in popularity

The high definition TV or a HD camcorder used to be outside of many people’s price range but that has changed.

It is now possible to find a HDTV in the sub US five hundred dollar mark and high definition camcorder for around US$200.

It goes without saying that more and more will be buying high definition 1080i TVs, HD camcorders and high resolution cameras in the coming months as even more mid-ranged products go high res.

Prediction#2 Digital TV will take off

The world is currently in the midst of a digital television revolution.

The DTV process started in 2003 and the first wave of countries converted is expected to finish the process between 2012 and 2013.

As a result, 2009 is an important year for many countries.

The US shifted from NTSC to ATSC US in February, with other countries being at around the half-way point of their DTV conversion.

Not everybody knows the ins and outs of the digital TV standards yet… ATSC, DVB-T and other digital TV standards around the world are a mystery to many.

However, people are actively searching for the televisions Digital TV tuners and DTV peripheral devices and will continue to do so in 2009.

Prediction#3 Projectors will gain in popularity

It used to be that you wouldn’t see a projector in anybody’s house, but technological and manufacturing developments have changed all that.

You can now get a multimedia projector or a LCD projector for less than 300 dollars US and there are several pico projectors on the market which will fit in peoples’ pockets.

Home projector and projector home theater will continue to be popular through 2009 as projector gets more coverage and consumers make their nests more comfortable.

Prediction#4 Blue Ray will get closer towards the mainstream.

The big news on the high definition disc last year was the format wars between Blue Ray and HD.

And even though HD had conceded defeat early in 2008 at CES Blue Ray hasn’t really made that much of a splash in the market outside of getting titles and players ready to ship to the populous.

2009 will be the year when almost everybody makes the shift to blue ray.

Prediction#5 Cell Phones will continue to grow steadily in developing markets.

Outside of the release of big-name cell phones like the 3G iPhone and the HTC G1 (the first phone with Google’s long-touted android OS) the cell phone market in the developed world hasn’t grown that much and doesn’t look like doing so.

Analysts say this is largely because mobile phone markets there have reached saturation point and most people will only be looking for replacement cell phones now.

That’s not the case in developing nations though where cell phones are no where near as commonly seen. In China cell phones are one of the hot ticket items with no contract cell phones being the most popular.

The popularity of the prepaid phone will continue through 2009 and in the foreseeable future.

Most customers wanting to buy no contract cell phones are looking for phones that give them high degrees of freedom and networks don’t tend to have the data support and features that companies like AT&T and Orange do.

The GSM phone and GSM in general is likely to reign supreme as a result.

There will be a new level of importance being placed on the international phone as well, largely because of the wider market.

The quad band phone and quad band telecommunication device will be an almost essential item for anybody looking for a cell phone wholesale company or China cellphones wholesale source because they want to start a mobile phone business.

Prediction#6 Netbooks with 3G connection capabilities will become popular items.

The trend which started with the Asus Eeee for low powered low specd laptop computers suited to surfing the internet and sending emails has taken off.

Now people have realized that notebook computers don’t have to come from a brand name supplier and they are actually seeking out cheaper models.

As a result there is going to be an explosion of 3G netbooks this year. Especially since the rise of Linux has reduced dependency on punishment happy Microsoft.

Which leads me to….

Prediction#7 Linux will gain ground as an operating system

With China electronics manufacturers making many of the entry-level netbooks they will be looking for ways to reduce cost levels without causing any legal difficulties.

As Linux is open source it doesn’t give them the same level of problems as Microsoft or Macintosh.

And as Linux systems become easier to use more people will make the shift, lessening Microsoft’s hold on operating systems.

Prediction#8 WiFi standard 802.11N will finally be released

While Wifi has been gaining popularity like nobody’s business the technology has been less quick to develop.

Manufacturers have been making devices to the G standard since 2003 and have been looking for an improvement.

Signs are good that 2009 will see the release of the WLAN 802.11N standard, with the standards group releasing and signing off on drafts all the way through last year.

Improvements people think the new standard will make include the end of interference from devices like microwaves and a wider reception from more aerials.

Prediction#9 Solid state drive computers will appear

Flash storage prices have been falling faster than Motorola share values in the last couple of years.

As a result there are lots of USB storage and external storage devices that could store the contents of your computer and have room for seconds selling at very reasonable prices (compared to what they were previously).

While the price of SSD isn’t at a low enough position for everyone to have a laptop holding a SSD, they should start to appear.

Prediction#10 People will be on the look out for solar powered gadgets and green gadgets

The electronic world will go even greener in 2009.

No we’re not talking about the occasional solar powered calculator or torch this will be a stronger shift towards things currently known as green gadgets.

There can be no doubts there have been leaps and bounds in solar technology with solar panels turning up on everything from bags to the windows of buildings.

In fact a solar charger and solar battery for cell phones and smaller gadgets has gone from being a rarity to being rather common place and the number of devices that use solar power or solar energy to keep going has increased tenfold.

Solar lights are even turning up in gardens at Christmas now.

Gadgets powered by other forms of alternative energy, like dynamo-powered gadgets, and electronic appliances made with other materials, like the wooden cell phone and iPod re-encased in wood, are turning up.

People are looking for these devices too and you can bet that many solar lights and clean green gadgets will be appearing on many people’s wish list for at least the next year.

So there you go. 10 things which are likely to happen in the electronics world.

An Analysis of Iran’s Trade Regime, and its Economic Ties to Key Global Players

As Iran continues to move forward with its nuclear program, and as attempts at diplomacy have given way to more aggressive rhetoric, the specter of economic sanctions has once again stepped out on to the international theatre’s main stage. Unlike previous sanctions, though, the current US proposal being circulated among UN Security Council members would reportedly call for an outright ban on specific transactions between UN countries and the Islamic Republic, in an attempt to more precisely target the banking, insurance and shipping sectors under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG).

The debate rages on, however, over how effective a new slate of sanctions would be in halting or even deterring Iran’s uranium enrichment efforts. While most Western powers have come out in favor of the proposed sanctions, support from Russia and China remains critical. Not coincidentally, both hesitant, veto-wielding countries also have significant economic interests within Iran’s borders.

The debate may be shrouded in political discourse, but it’s unquestionably driven by economics. And while experts and policy-makers may continue to disagree over the capacity of sanctions to bring about real political change, the only way to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of prospective economic sanctions is from the bottom, with a more detailed excavation of the Iranian trade climate and the trade relations governing it.

Iran’s Trade Landscape

With a full 10% of the world’s known oil reserves within its vast borders, Iran’s economy revolves, not surprisingly, around energy. In 2007, the Iranian state pulled in $57 billion in oil export revenue, comprising about half of all governmental revenue. Oil currently comprises about 80% of all Iranian exports.

Under the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, though, the country’s domestic economy has staggered under the weight of enormous government subsidies, rising unemployment, and double-digit inflation levels. Without proper infrastructure to refine its massive supply of crude oil, the country has been forced to import gasoline. According to a recent Reuters report, Iran imported 23% more gasoline in February of 2010 than it did during the same month last year.

While many agree that sanctions targeting the IRCG would exert some deleterious effect upon the Iranian economy, others believe that sanctions could actually benefit specific partners. Dr. Arang Keshavarzian, associate professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, claims that “the tightening of sanctions will benefit three groups-traders based in free trade zones in the Gulf (especially in Dubai), business interests in countries able to resist or skirt sanctions 9especially in East and Southeast Asia), and large parastatal organizations in Iran.”

Since 1996, when the US government unilaterally passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ISLA), Iran has greatly expanded its trade relations with specific partners. Although the EU and the People’s Republic of China lead the list of Iran’s top trade partners, recent years have seen a surge in Iranian trade with other developing countries, such as Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and India.

With the prospect of multilateral economic sanctions once again looming over Iran, two of the Islamic Republic’s trade partners-Russia and China-have each stepped in to particularly pivotal political roles, warranting a closer look at their economic ties to Tehran.

Russian Uncertainty

Russian-Iranian trade stems primarily from a similar abundance in natural gas. The two countries possess the two largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and have developed strong economic relations in an effort to capitalize on their endowment. In October 2008, Russia, Iran and Qatar, together comprising a full 40% of the world’s natural gas reserves, entered into a formal agreement to strengthen their energy related economic bonds. In addition to their energy related endeavours, Russia and Iran have, since 2008, expanded trade in agriculture, telecommunications, and aviation.

Although the Russian government officially supported each of the three previous rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, it has openly helped the Islamic Republic develop its nuclear facilities in Bushehr, which will reportedly be completed in 2011. After vehemently arguing against bringing economic sanctions up for Security Council deliberation in 2005, Russia promptly voted in favour of the measures in 2006. Once again, Russian diplomats have expressed discontent over current proposals, while acknowledging the danger that a nuclear Iran could present.

The most contentious issue surrounding Russo-Iranian relations remains the impending delivery of air defense missile systems to Iran, which were guaranteed under a 2005 contract signed between Tehran and Russia’s state owned Rosoboron export agency. The deal has been met with derision from Western leaders, who argue that Russia is merely giving Iran the safety net incentive it needs to pursue uranium enrichment.

There has also been considerable concern expressed over Russia and Iran’s comparatively blatant exchange of scientific knowledge. For years, Iran has been allowing Russian and Ukrainian scientists free entry into the country via what policy experts call an “underground tunnel” of suspicious visa policies. Unlike other commodities traded across Russian and Iranian borders, it’s virtually impossible to gauge the true value of this knowledge exchange, although a 2009 CIA report firmly claims that the assistance of Russian experts has “helped Iran move toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles.”

The Chinese Enigma

While the EU has long been Iran’s largest trading partner, accounting for over $35 billion of total trade in 2008, China appears poised to overtake the Europeans-if it hasn’t already. According to a February article in the Financial Times, China may have officially accounted for only $29 billion of Iran’s 2008 trade, but the actual figure is probably much higher, since a substantial portion of Iranian-Chinese trade flows are funnelled through the UAE. When these shipments are taken into account, experts estimate the grand total value of trade flows to be at least $36.5 billion.

Much of Iran’s imports from China consist of consumer goods and machinery, while Iran, in turn, provides roughly 12% of China’s energy needs, as evidenced by the 23 million tons of crude oil it exported to the People’s Republic in 2009. According to recent projections from the China National Petroleum Corporation, Chinese imports of Iranian oil could rise by as much as 9.1 percent in the coming year.

Iran, crippled by its inadequate refinery infrastructure, has begun importing greater amounts of refined fuel from China. According to a September report from the Financial Times, somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 barrels of Chinese petrol arrive in Iran on a daily basis, usually via third party intermediaries.

Much like Russia, China’s outward approach to Iran has often been orthogonal to their economic and commercial actions. Although China has supported the three previous sets of sanctions, in recent years, it has only stepped up economic cooperation with Tehran. Several Chinese firms have assisted in developing Iran’s energy capacities, including last year’s $1.76 billion contract to development of the North Azadegan oil field, and a $3.39 billion deal to produce liquefied natural gas in the South Pars field, agreed to in March 2009.

Most critical to diplomatic negotiations, though, are rumoured Chinese sales of missile technology to the Islamic Republic. China, like Russia, has a long history of arms trade with Iran, dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The ability of Chinese scientists to reverse engineer military technology has allowed them to reproduce old Soviet missile technology, and funnel the end products to Iran.

Just last year, an investigative report by the AP bureau in Taipei revealed that Chinese merchants had successfully delivered over 100 pressure transducers to Iran, via an elaborate chain of delivery that masked the end destination of the devices. According to nuclear experts, the only logical explanation for a country purchasing that many transducers at one time would be for uranium enrichment activities. The Chinese government maintains it knew nothing of the clandestine trade, but many have read their defense as a veiled, diplomatic attempt to avoid ruffling Iran’s feathers.

For the moment, then, the fate of a new round of economic sanctions remains, rather ironically, dependent upon support from two of Iran’s most prominent trade partners. Furthermore, while the set of sanctions currently under consideration would not directly affect Iran’s energy sector, it’s clear that the complexity of its political economy goes far beyond oil. In a diplomatic climate in which words are invalidated by actions, and in which economic figures, on their own, only tell part of the story, separating political from profit-seeking behavior has become a nearly impossible task.

It’s too early to say whether politics or economics will ultimately decide the course of action the international community takes with Iran. But judging from the deeply entrenched trade relations the Islamic Republic enjoys with two enormously important world powers, arriving at a global consensus may only be part of the equation. At the end of the day, holding Iran’s trade partners accountable to their words may prove even more difficult.

First published: Tuesday 06 April 2010.

Study In New Zealand – Universal College of Learning

Many 100s of UCOL’s international alumni from countries all around the world stay in touch with their alma mater in New Zealand and many of them are now in key positions in teaching or working in design, film, television, IT, Nursing, Business and many other industries and professions.

The Universal College of Learning – known as UCOL – is one of the most progressive Institutes of Technology in New Zealand: Main aim is to help people succeed in life, by equipping them with the right skills and knowledge – and the right attitude. The success of its students – studying either as International students or as people who have immigrated to New Zealand – proves the point.

Tiffany Chew from Malaysia is a good example. While she was studying at UCOL’s Whanganui School of Design in the beautiful city of Wanganui, she won the students’ section of a top national design competition.

Her work, called Spinobot (which stands for spin about) took the Tertiary Student Award in the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) Business Internet Awards. The awards acknowledge innovation and excellence in research and development in digital and interactive media.

Tiffany created Spinobot in her final year of study for a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design. Now back in her homeland, she works for a leading interactive design company in Kuala Lumpur, developing websites and other online resources.

Many students from India have completed their Nursing degrees at UCOL and now work in hospitals and Health Care Centres all over New Zealand. UCOL has New Zealand’s largest nursing school and an international reputation in this vocational rich area.

Trevor Salang took a different path in life. He first learned to cook on Borneo Island with only a machete as a cooking implement.

His earliest lesson in cooking came from his father and his grandparents who still use traditional tribal methods, with a wood fire and two metal bars to stop the pot from dropping into the fire. “From my father I learnt how to kill chickens, wild boar, catch fresh fish and gather vegetables from the forest, and cook them with nothing but a machete.”

Trevor came to study in New Zealand when he was 16, finished secondary school and decided on a career as a chef. He liked the idea that he could also develop his artistic bent through food presentation.

Trevor would like to try his hand working overseas in a few years time. “One day I would like to have my own restaurant – always serving a superior product.”

Another student from Malaysia, San Tan wanted to go abroad to study and decided on New Zealand, because she wanted to experience a new culture.

San had always wanted to work with animals, and had a science background so she chose the vet nursing course at UCOL in Palmerston North.

During her placement in a local vet clinic, San found the practical skills she’d learned at UCOL helped her get her first vet nursing job. “I started work at my placement vet clinic as a locum straight after I finished my course.”

San has enjoyed study in New Zealand. “The people are good, they’re fun. And I’ve enjoyed experiencing New Zealand culture: it’s quiet and peaceful, and there’s not so much rushing.”

Bruce Osborne, who heads UCOL’s International unit, is not surprised that international students do well at UCOL. “They work very hard and have a good attitude to study and life,” he says. “And of course they have the support of UCOL. We value students from other countries because they bring new experiences and points of view- and that’s good for all of us.”

Bruce stresses that UCOL is there to help all of its students succeed, in whatever field they choose. “Right now we are celebrating the success of students and staff from our Bachelor of Visual Imaging programme in Palmerston North. They took seven awards, including Institute of the Year for the fifth year running, in the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers national awards.”

UCOL Catering and Hospitality students also took 10 medals (including three Gold) at the National Culinary Fare in Auckland. “We’re proud of them all,” says Bruce.

Other features that make UCOL different include its range of employment-related programmes, its regional range across three campuses in the North Island of New Zealand, the passion of its lecturers.

UCOL offers more than 100 programmes, available on campus and online, from certificates and diplomas to degrees, across a range of trade, professional and creative qualifications. They include chef training and hospitality, fashion, hairdressing, business, computer technology, sport and exercise, fine furniture making, graphic design, fine arts, early childhood training, nursing, performing arts, applied science and trades.

Small classes are the norm and programmes are built around a combination of practical experience and theory.

The Era of Cyber-Warfare

The tip of the Iceberg was revealed in 2010, when the “Suxnet” virus was discovered and found culpable of setting back Iran’s Uranium enrichment program. Many subsequent hints gave responsibility of its creation to Israel and the USA. The sophisticated virus infected many systems worldwide but about 60% of them were in Iran. It specifically targeted software from the Siemens Company’s products, but no other customer of theirs has been affected. The only damage was to Iran’s sophisticated centrifuges, which was based on embargoed hardware that was procured secretly. The virus had caused the centrifuge to spin faster than planned, and, in so doing, destroyed them. All experts agree that the Suxnet virus is an extremely specific and sophisticated weapon, designed by leading experts backed by governmental resources. It is very precise in its target and efficient in its dissemination. Iran has admitted some damage and stated publicly that “an electronic war has been launched against Iran”. It is mildly ironic, as Iran has also boasted in the past to have “the world’s second largest cyber- army”.

New viruses, related by experts to Suxnet, have been discovered since: “Duqu” in 2011 and “Flame” in 2012. Those seem to have more spying purposes, collecting data from the infected computers. The Flame virus did contain a “kill” function to make it disappear when discovered. Information has surfaced linking all those viruses in a joint US-Israeli operation code-named: “Olympic Games”. The US and Israel are therefore probably at war with Iran right now; albeit only a cyber-war, but war nonetheless. It should be noted by the reader that the USA explicitly considers a cyber-attack as a casus belli for conventional war!

The US has set-up the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) to coordinate all aspects of cyber-warfare. It is clear that the Department of Defense takes the matter very seriously. And things are happening below the quiet surface: a Chinese-based spying computer network named “GhostNet” was identified. This followed Operation Aurora, in which Chinese hackers targeted Google and at least twenty other US companies, on the background of a row with Chinese policies. It is well-known to US Intelligence that China invests hugely in Cyber-warfare. Their cyber-warfare units spread viruses and malware, mainly to collect information from civilian and governmental companies. And many cases of industrial espionage have been documented.

But all the many examples that have filtered to the media are very mild when compared to what could be done in case of open warfare or a terrorist operation. Besides the obvious espionage and data gathering possibilities that a modern society offers to hackers, there are real physical dangers. All the infrastructure of a modern country is based on computers and telecommunications. A well-targeted virus could cripple the power distribution network for weeks. Communications can be virtually brought to a halt. Planes, cars and other modes of transportation are highly dependent on microchips that could be destroyed by an Electro Magnetic Pulse bomb, or hijacked. The military could be crippled, its drones hi-jacked, its planes made un-operational. Doomsday scenarios are only limited by the reader’s imagination. If the Israelis have succeeded in remotely crippling Iranian centrifuges in a deeply buried secret bunker, what is out of reach?

The importance of spyware, cyber-security and cyber-warfare will only become clearer as time passes. More examples of below-the-surface skirmishes will gradually find their way to the media. We are now in the era of electronic war. New ways will be found to infect our computers and spy on us. One of the looming threats is the hardware virus: a little tweaking with a very complex microchip can make for an undetectable virus. This is the basis of the new thriller by Marc Brem: “Rain Fund”. The reality described therein is just around the corner…

Yuan Settlement: Widespread Adoption Unlikely in Short Term

The limited number of eligible suppliers and impractical policies are making it difficult for yuan trade settlement to become a viable option in China’s export manufacturing industry.

More than a year after the yuan trade settlement pilot program was launched, and very few China suppliers are quoting prices in the local currency.

Both manufacturers and buyers are willing to settle payments in the yuan. On the part of the makers, doing so eliminates currency exchange losses whenever the yuan gains against the US dollar. For clients, this means export quotes will remain stable, regardless of how fast the yuan appreciates.

But current policies make it impractical for both sides to do so. Most companies in China export to buyers in the US and the EU, where the yuan is not widely circulated. They cannot see how their customers, who are already used to dealing in US dollars, would be willing to switch to the yuan when it may not always be available in their home countries. It is often clients from South and Southeast Asia who are willing to transact in the yuan, but the majority of China manufacturers have few customers from those regions.

Mike Bellamy, general manager of PassageMaker and board member of the China Sourcing Information Center, said there could be more buyers using the yuan in transactions if individuals and not only corporations could open a yuan account in their home countries. It would also help if conversion fees are not too high.

Further, HSBC’s chief economist for China Hongbin Qu said more measures are needed in the months ahead to facilitate offshore yuan investment. Among these are speeding up development of offshore yuan products, including a deliverable forwards market in Hong Kong and a mini-QFII scheme. Unlike the full version of the qualified foreign institutional investors program, the mini-QFII allows fund managers in Hong Kong to invest overseas yuan deposits in stock markets in mainland China.

Qu believes China also needs to implement more liberal policies, including opening the domestic market further to widen the access for foreigners investing in the yuan. Such depositors should be able to transfer funds from yuan accounts in their home countries.

US dollar continues to dominate transactions

To widen the opportunities for yuan settlement, the China government expanded coverage in June 2010 to include at least 1,000 companies in 20 provinces, and opened it to all countries worldwide, instead of limiting it to ASEAN members. Suppliers were chosen based on their export scale, credit record and years of experience.

Despite this move, most eligible exporters still do not settle transactions in the yuan. Consumer electronics maker Konka Group Co. Ltd has few customers in Southeast Asia. International business division president Dong Chang believes it would be hard to convince buyers outside of the region to pay in the yuan.

Timely Electronics Ltd’s managing director Albert Mak said the company asked its buyers if they are willing to transact in the yuan as early as August 2009, when it was included in the pilot program. But none of the mobile phone supplier’s clients, many of whom are based in Africa and South America, have been willing to do so. Timely’s buyers are more willing to accept higher quotes in US dollars. They believe the conversion rate of the yuan against other currencies is affected significantly by government policies, making it difficult to project how much the yuan will appreciate over a period of time.

Statistics covering 12 months to June 2010 show that of the total yuan settlements recorded in the period, only 9 percent or 1.98 billion came from the export industry. Some of the successes from other sectors include telecommunications company ZTE, which was the first in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to receive yuan remittances from Hong Kong via the Bank of China.

HSBC also completed its first UK cross-border yuan trade settlement transaction, a month after the program’s coverage was expanded.

Electronics Gadgets – 13-Plus Disclaimers and Disclaimer Templates to Keep You Out of Trouble

Selling electronic gadgets can be a tricky business, because the products tend to be both physically fragile and can be prone to malfunction. One way to protect yourself is by using disclaimers.

Article Ref: S01GDR

Customers could begin returning defective gadgets in large numbers – disclaimers can protect you from being liable for a replacement or refund.

You must also look at packaging and your transit company’s shipping warranties, as deficient products and services in this regard can lead to damaged goods reaching the customer.

Some issues that may require disclaimers include:
* Laws in different countries
* Electronic standards used in different countries,
* Different operational methods
* The difficulty of installation
* Potential health hazards

A Typical Disclaimer

Usually labelled as Terms & Conditions, Important Terms, Disclaimers, Warranty and Exchange Information, or something similar. It’s usual to use several disclaimers to cover as many of your requirements as possible:

* Condition of the item being sold. Condition of the packaging.
* Shipment restrictions – which countries will you ship to? Is there a shipping warranty?
* Recommendations for restrictions on the products use – not to be used around pets or by small children, for example.
* Accepted payment methods.
* Availability of refunds, exchanges and warranties.
* Legal restrictions on the products use.

Disclaimer Examples

The following are somewhat random examples of disclaimers, all taken from eBay. Obviously, you’ll have to tailor each disclaimer to each product and your own shipping/payment/warranty/restriction needs.

** GSM Cell phones:

Online electronics gadgets sellers often need to add disclaimer notices to their cell phones because not all GSM cell phone network uses the same frequency.

With the traditional 2G and 2.5G networks there were four main frequencies: 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 1900MHz.

Phones that used 900MHz, and 1800MHz bands traditionally worked in most countries (with the exception of the US, North America and US territories) while 850MHz and 1900MHz phones traditionally worked in the US, North America and US territories.

The 3G system has further compounded matters by working on a different frequency and not being compatible with some phones being produced now.

A good disclaimer for GSM cell phones would read as follows:

————————————————————————————————————
NOTE: This product is compatible with GSM at the frequencies of 900MHz, 1800MHz. This cellphone will not work in North America.
————————————————————————————————————

** Radar Scanners:

While radar scanners are popular, it is illegal to buy, or use them.

This is largely because their main purpose is to identify speed cameras or police officers to avoid speeding tickets. This essentially explains both its illegality and its popularity.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

————————————————————————————————————
NOTE: Certain countries prevent the use and ownership of these devices. You are solely responsible for finding out whether this product is legal to import and/or use in your country. We will send you the products you order and cannot accept any liability for customs issues or any implications of your ownership or usage of this device.
————————————————————————————————————

** Ni-Cad Batteries:

Ni-Cad batteries have a memory, as a result they work better and have a longer lifespan if they are charged a certain way when they are first used.

As a result this would be a good disclaimer:

————————————————————————————————————
NOTE: Ni-Cad batteries give their best performance if fully un-charged and charged three times after purchase.
————————————————————————————————————

** Cell Phone/Wi-Fi/radio signal blockers:

Like radar detectors these items are not exactly legal in all situations. However, this doesn’t stop them being popular to certain people.

This is a suitable disclaimer to use with blockers:

————————————————————————————————————
These devices may not be permissible to import into certain countries due to licensing of broadcast signals or other restrictions. Please check your country’s telecommunications regulations before placing your order.
————————————————————————————————————

** Thermometers:

You’re not a health professional. The chances are the people buying these electronic gadgets from you won’t be either.

This won’t stop them blaming you if a loved one became seriously ill if they were ‘misdiagnosed’ because of a reading from a thermometer they brought from you.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

————————————————————————————————————
Note: This device is meant for personal uses only, please refer to a physician or health professional.
————————————————————————————————————

** Breathalyzers:

We all know why people buy breathalyzers. It’s for them to check whether or not they are able to drive home, or whether they will need to catch a cab.

As a result, if they fly too close to the wind and get caught they’re going to try to use YOUR device in their defense.

This is a suitable disclaimer to use in this case:

————————————————————————————————————
Note: This is a reference tool only and can not be used as a legal defense.
————————————————————————————————————

** GPS Devices:

The type of disclaimers you need on GPS devices depend on the type of devices you are carrying and the level of support you are willing to give to customers.

If you are dealing with GPS receivers for example and are sourcing from a factory which offers GPS ready devices that don’t come with the necessary maps then you will need to let customers know that they will need to supply their own maps.

It is worth noting that very few vendors from China actually supply the genuine GPS map software and it may be worth getting a test order of a GPS receiver sent to yourself to make sure you’re not selling GPS devices with software that is cracked or a sample.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

————————————————————————————————————
The unit includes evaluation GPS software only. We recommend purchasing a GPS software package from your home country that best covers your region of the world.
————————————————————————————————————

** GPS Trackers

A number of problems can arise from the sale of GPS trackers. If the tracker is small they can be used for nefarious purposes (maliciously keeping track of family members and loved ones for example). A customer may also expect to see GPS software when none is included.

As a result, you may want to include one of the two disclaimers:

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This model does not come with any GPS navigation map software
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Seller takes no responsibility for harm resulting from misuse of this item
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**Heart Rate Monitors:

You’re not a health professional. The chances are the people buying these electronic gadgets from you won’t be either.

This won’t stop them blaming you if a loved one became seriously ill if they were ‘misdiagnosed’ because of a reading from a thermometer they brought from you.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

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Note: This device is meant for personal uses only, please refer to a physician or health professional.
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** Car DVD Players:

If you have ever dealt with car stereos (or anything else to do with cars or electronics) you’ll know how complicated they can be.

You’ll also know that the average consumer loves to blame you for their goof-ups.

As a result it may be a good idea to include this disclaimer with any car DVD players you sell

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For optimum performance we recommend that you have this car DVD unit installed by a professional.
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** Spy Listening Devices:

While spy listening devices may seem cool it is illegal to use them in some locations and courts of law will not allow recordings from them to be used as evidence unless both parties taped have signed release forms.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

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NOTE: Certain countries prevent the use and ownership of these devices. You are solely responsible for finding out whether this product is legal to import and/or use in your country. We will send you the products you order and cannot accept any liability for customs issues or any implications of your ownership or usage of this device.
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** Fish Finders:

Fish are notoriously difficult to find. Even with a fish finder. As a result you will need to protect yourself in case somebody they complain that they haven’t been able to spot any fish.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

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Seller takes no responsibility for environmental factors which may inhibit the performance of this device.
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** Chargers:

Regardless of whether you are selling a back-up battery or a solar charger there are always issues surrounding the connection type the voltage and the specific capacity of devices it is compatible with.

As a result you will need to list all the relevant details that apply to the charger you are listing and include the following disclaimer:

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This charger is only compatible with devices with the specifications listed. Please pay careful attention to the listing.
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** Spy Cameras with Audio:

While surveillance cameras are perfectly legal and respected cameras with audio devices are not.

To be used in a court of law both parties taped have signed release forms.

To cover yourself include the following disclaimer:

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NOTE: Certain countries prevent the use of recorded audio footage to be used as evidence in legal cases. You are solely responsible for learning and adhering to the standards of your country when using this product.
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** Car Electronics:

Depending on the age of electronics used in the car a number of issues may arise.

Most of these issues surround the compatibility between the device you are listing and the car that the potential buyer wants to put them in to.

You may want to include the following disclaimer:

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This device is only compatible with devices with the specifications listed. Please pay careful attention to the listing.
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As I mentioned, these disclaimers are examples of what they should look like – you may want to write a disclaimer that suits your particular needs as a seller, taking into account the qualities of the product in question and both your location and the location of your customer.

Investing In A Structurally Unbalanced World

1. US Net Exports Have to Pick Up — Since 1992 the US has been registering ever larger current account and net export deficits. (Net exports are the major item in the current account.) At the same time other so-called developing countries, notably China in recent years, have registered massive current account and net export surpluses. This trend was only partially reversed by the cyclical fall off in US imports during the Great Recession in 2008. These massive current account and trade deficits have to be financed and this financing has resulted in equally massive dollar reserve holdings by China and other so-called developing countries. They also are also consistent with the view that American manufacturing jobs have suffered from this process.

Simple economic theory would suggest that capital intensive developed countries like the United States run current account surpluses with the relatively less capital intensive developing world. Developing labor intensive countries like China would run current account deficits. Admittedly this simple picture is complicated by the role the dollar plays as the world’s international currency. The United States needs to provide dollars to the world (something it has done with unbridled enthusiasm.)

Still on a structural basis one would expect that this trend of large US current account and net export deficits cannot go on forever. One might expect that the economic signals-including a cheaper dollar against the countries of East Asia– would favor US exports. My forecast would be that US companies that have an international scope and are able to access capital will fare relatively well in the coming years (assuming no major global recession). Moreover US has an expertise in technology. Approaching this from a macro top down perspective, I would conclude that larger companies with comfortable cash positions, global brand names and preferably technology niches would be well positioned as this necessary structural change in the global economic order unfolds.

2. Buy Gold, Sell Treasuries — The international monetary and domestic banking systems will continue to provide an inflationary global bias. In issue after issue of The Dismal Optimist I have argued that the global and domestic financial systems are inherently inflationary and dysfunctional and lack automatic mechanisms to correct imbalances. Thus China can hold down the value of the renmimbi by buying dollars thereby inflating Chinese high powered money supply, increasing Chinese holdings of US dollar assets and lowering US interest rates. Thus the Federal Reserve can get away with reckless printing of US high powered money, aka QEII, and finance the burgeoning US government debt.

Several respected economists, notably Gary Shilling, have argued persuasively that the US will be in a real estate driven debt deflation for the next several years and that long term Treasuries are a good investment. I might agree with this if the United States operated in isolation. But I think the global picture is inflationary thanks to the dysfunctional international monetary system and the army of money printing and currency manipulating central banks around the world. Inflation will creep into the US from abroad even as painful debt deflation continues to affect the domestic consumer. The worst of all worlds.

One can argue about the real factors affecting global inflation and their effects on commodity prices. One can argue that continued technology driven productivity enhancements combined with the addition to the global economy of giant labor pools from countries like India and China will provide what Shilling calls “good deflation.” Offsetting that is the view that all these new Indian and Chinese consumers will add to global demand on agricultural, energy and industrial commodities and thereby provide an inflationary commodity price bias. I tend towards the later view although a Chinese hard landing in 2011 could cut global demand and temporarily slow down the commodity story especially in the non-agricultural area. But either way, the massive increases in global money supplies thanks to our dysfunctional international monetary system are going to push commodity prices up.

I continue to believe gold should be in the typical investor’s portfolio. Fiat money is not trustworthy as the inflationary record of the US shows. For example, what you could buy for $1.00 in 1914-the year the Federal Reserve began operations and the gold standard was by and large abandoned – would cost $21.16 in 2009. What you could buy for $1.00 in 1871-the year financial historians assign to the advent of a universally accepted gold standard – would have cost $.84 in 1914.

I also think nominal interest rates globally will trend up in 2011 in response to the global monetary inflation and disastrous US fiscal situation. The market’s response to QE2 has been higher long term US Treasury interest rates. The world has started to mistrust the US government and its debt. The alternative explanation, paraded endlessly in the financial media, that long rates have risen because QE2 was going to be so successful in stimulating the economy, belongs in the realm of standup comedy.

3. Get Ready for Troubles with US State and Local Governments Over a year ago I wrote that public sector wages, benefits and pension plans would overwhelm the finances of many states and municipalities. This is now old news. The so-called stimulus package last year helped bail out the states. But this year with a Republican House and burgeoning Federal deficits there will be tremendous political resistance to further bailouts. The financial media has now caught up with this issue. Meredith Whitney, the only sell side equity analyst to have correctly called the subprime crisis, is raising warnings on this issue. There’s a lot of pain ahead on this and cuts in public sector wages, benefits and pensions will have to come but they won’t come easily. New York, California and Illinois in particular are three large states in very large fiscal trouble.

My question: Can the stock market do well when bombs are going off in the state and municipal sectors? Will stocks become a place of refuge or do we go back to the “everything goes down” mode of 2008. My best guess is that well capitalized, large cap, export oriented, technology oriented US companies will be seen as a place of refuge. As will gold. Stocks of banks that own large quantities of municipal bonds are another matter.

4. 2011 Looks to Be a Difficult Year for China – Chinese interest rates though still negative in real terms are going up, massive bank lending in 2009 and 2010 must have brought with it significant yet-to-be-revealed non-performing loans, the country has over invested in infrastructure projects and real estate, the currency is still undervalued, inflation is a real problem thanks to strong money growth, environmental problems are legion. The list goes on. Most analysts are debating whether China will have a hard or soft landing in 2011. Nobody knows the answer to this, especially for a country where statistics are sparse and unreliable and transparency is lacking. It is no accident that in renminbi terms the Shanghai A share market was down almost 17% in 2010. The market doesn’t like what it sees.

Longer term I remain very bullish on China. For the last few thousand years, China has gone through long cycles of increasing power, national unity and expansion, followed by slow decline and then national disintegration. And then the cycle repeats. With the ascent of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s and the disaster of the Cultural Revolution imprinted on all minds, the national disintegration phase ended. China is now in the up-phase of increasing power, national unity and expansion. I have no doubt that a nation of 1.3 billion hard working talented people with a religious craving for material improvement is a great long run place to put your money. I regard forecasts of China collapsing due to social unrest or regional problems as fundamentally at variance with the long run historical trend.

The US in the nineteenth century was the world’s rising economic power. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Occasional crises were experienced along the way such as the defaults of the states in the 1840s, the Civil War of 1860-65, the Panics of 1873 and 1893. Foreign investors from time to time lost their collective shirts as the US marched on to greatness. But the US emerged stronger after each crisis as economic and political imbalances were corrected. Crises correct imbalances and force the resolution of heretofore unsolvable political problems. For example, India’s early 1990s ditching of the so-called “License Raj” only came response to a foreign exchange crisis.

I am not wishing a crisis on China. But China in my opinion needs to make some tough decisions and these decisions will benefit investors in the long run. China is following what has been called the East Asia Model, i.e. a high degree of protectionism with all kinds of administrative and tariff restrictions on imports, an undervalued exchange rate, an over-emphasis on investment, an over-emphasis on exports, a massive interference in the markets, a predatory approach to foreign technology, an over-accumulation of dollar reserves and over-investment in designated favored industries. This fundamentally mercantilist model takes advantage of the international monetary system which allows countries to hold their currencies below equilibrium levels and the expense of employment in the United States.

The East Asia Model may have reached the end of its usefulness for China. It certainly has for Japan. The time to really load up on Chinese stocks will be when it appears the government has decided to turn away from this model. Whether the government will take the necessary decisions in a gradual, rational way or whether it needs to be forced to do so by a crisis remains to be seen.

5. The Euro Will Survive – Spanish pesetas, Italian liras, Maltese liras, French francs, Belgian francs, Luxembourgian francs, Dutch guilders, Portuguese escudos, German deutschmarks, Finnish markkas, Irish pounds, Cypriot pounds, Danish krones, Austrian shillings, Greek drachmas – yuk! Who needs them all.

In fact, Europe does not. The euro represents huge financial value added as compared with the bewildering smorgasbord of currencies that existed before. History, politics, technology and geography are all lined up in support of the euro. The euro represents a tremendous step forward in European integration. The Europeans spent a good part of the twentieth century killing one another. It’s an unpleasant experience they don’t want to repeat. At the same time telecommunications and transportation technology are bringing the already geographically contiguous European nations even closer together. Don’t underestimate the power of a fiber optic cable! The Germans will pay and pay to support the euro, however contrary to their self interest some of their actions may appear from time to time. And in my opinion, no countries will leave the euro. If you think Greece is having problems now with street demonstrations, just imagine if one day Greeks woke up to find their bank accounts were suddenly denominated in drachmas (draculas?) instead of euros.

Of course the euro does suffer from the same fault as all fiat currencies. Gold is still an investment alternative for euro area investors. But against the dollar the euro will play musical chairs. When Ireland, Greece, Portugal or Spain are in the headlines (Belgium and Italy?) the euro will decline against the dollar. When California, Illinois or New York take center stage, the dollar will down against the euro. I see plenty of opportunities for traders but no trend here.

6. Take a Look at India — India is an emerging market story in its own right. It’s the odd man out in the BRIC thesis. Brazil and Russia supply commodities to China and are part of the China story. To a large extent the fate of Brazil and Russia (and numerous other emerging markets) depends on how China does in 2011. India’s not a major part of this China picture although India-China trade has been growing.

India and China may be in Asia and have a lot of people coming off the countryside, but that’s where the similarity ends. China is homogeneous (92 % Han), relatively monolithic with one national language and with a government that is, in its own mercantilist way, pro-business. India on the other hand is a heterogeneous collection of peoples, cultures and languages. Indian technology firms are global and among the best in the world. The Indian business sector operates in English and compared to China is transparent and follows the rule of law. But from an economic/business viewpoint the bureaucratic, populist Indian government although democratic can be a major obstacle. It is often said that companies succeed in China because of the government while they succeed in India in spite of the government. Still longer term that could be a positive for India. Governments usually support losers and in fact create them by insulating companies from competition and offering subsidized access to capital which encourages low productivity. Examples of this abound in China. With the exception of some state owned firms, Indian companies are private and have to compete for capital and customers without any government coddling.

Indian stocks compared to other emerging markets are not cheap. But I think typical portfolios should have some Indian exposure. In addition, because the India/China stories are not so interwoven, India offers some advantages of diversification.

Essential Information About Doing Business In Shanghai

Over the last decade, businesses in China have gone through remarkable changes. The country’s membership to the World Trade Organization resulted in the liberalization of many industry sectors. Shanghai, more than any part of the country, has led China to great prosperity. The city is notable for reliable infrastructures and business that contributed to the country’s economic growth.

Foreign investors gain interest in doing business in Shanghai because of the new laws and regulations issued after the country’s WTO accession. This led to a great need for investors that could adapt their business operations in China. Investors who operate in logistics, telecommunications, distribution and financial services gain benefits from the WTO liberalization.

Reasons To Do Business In Shanghai

The updated business regulations and tax rules in China resulted to a need for foreign investors in the country. In particular, many businesspersons are interested in doing business in Shanghai because the city is conducive to economic development. Shanghai remains as the country’s most competitive and international city. According to Peter Osborne, Senior Commissioner of Austrade and deputy consul-general in Shanghai, the city offers numerous opportunities for foreign investors. In fact, the Chinese government encourages foreign investment, particularly in priority businesses and industries.

At present, China ranks fourth when it comes to countries with the largest economy. It has sustained an average economic growth of 9.5 percent over the last three decades. In 2007, the country has reached a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $3.4 trillion. It was also during this year when the country had a GDP growth rate of 11.4 percent.

Investment Climate In Shanghai

China utilizes several methods to attract investment in the country. These methods include preferential tax treatment, as well as various incentives provided to investors in high tech industries. Although the government encourages foreign investment, the country also controls and monitors the pace of opening up to other countries. There are still restrictions imposed on foreign investors such as the different requirements for approval, nature and amount of capital contributions. Some sectors also restrict the participation of foreign investors.

The Foreign Investment Catalogue provides an outline that contains information on sectors that encourage, permit, and prohibit investors from other countries. Investment in industries that focus on technology is encouraged, while “prohibited” investment includes the media and other sectors. Nevertheless, the country’s accession to the WTO has caused the narrowing down of areas with investment restrictions. This paves the way for foreign investors to engage in numerous businesses in Shanghai, and other major cities.

How To Enter The Chinese Market

Foreign investors have various options when they intend to enter the Chinese market. For instance, they can consult the Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce for details on investing in the city. Those who plan to obtain the cheapest and easiest way to start a business is by setting up a rep office. There are limitations, though, because investors are not allowed to sell services and products in the local economy. This type of business only serves as a marketing office for products imported to China by a parent company.

A joint venture is another type of business that allows a foreign company to have a partnership with a Chinese company. The co-operative joint venture and equity joint venture are among the options that foreigners have when they intend to do business in Shanghai. The only drawback is that there are legal issues associated in this form of investment.

Lastly, the Wholly Owned Foreign Enterprise serves as another investment option. The foreign company owns all the assets and makes a capital investment for the business. However, the government will require the business to demonstrate evidences that it will benefit the Chinese economy.

Russian Consumer Power Attracts U.S. Business

Russian consumers continue to be hungry for Western goods and services. The wealth generated by Russian exports of oil and gas provides Russian consumers with the means to purchase those products. U.S. corporations such as McDonald’s and Starbucks were quick to take advantage of opportunities in Russia. Even Wal-Mart opened a Russian office in January 2009, which is viewed as the company’s first step to opening stores in Russia. Medium-sized U.S. businesses are just beginning to focus on Russian markets.

Russian Consumer Power
How much disposable income do Russian consumers have? Comparing the consumer power of different nations can be difficult because the relative cost of living is so different in various countries. One measure of consumer power is Purchasing Power Parity which takes account the relative cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries. According to the World Bank, Russia is ranked 7th among nations in terms of Purchasing Power Parity, with only the US, European Union, China, Japan, India and the Germany ranked higher. Thus Russia is ranked above powerful consumer nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil Sweden, and Switzerland.

In the past nine years, the growth of the Russian Gross Domestic Product growth has averaged 7%. Russia household consumption and fixed capital investments, which have both grown by about 10% annually since 1999, are now the primary drivers of growth.

The bottom line is that Russia is an important market for consumer goods and many American businesses are targeting Russian markets. U.S. exports to Russia are dramatically increasing; from 2006 to 2008, US exports increased 50%. Direct investment in Russia by U.S. companies and subsidiaries is also increasing significantly; from 2004 to 2008, US investment in Russia increased by 300%.

Russian Consumers
When considering Russian consumer power, the demographics of Russian are awesome. Russia has a population of 140 million. About 73% of all Russians live in urban areas. About 20 million Russians are under 14 years old, which is a huge market for children’s products, such as electronic games. The 100 million Russians aged 15 to 64 are a massive market for consumer products such as televisions, mobile phones, and laptops. About 20 million Russians are over 65 years old, which represents a major market for products such as hearing aids and medicine.

Doing Business in Russia
Good fiscal policy has stabilized the inflation and exchange rates, according to the U.S. State Department. Russia has had a budget surplus every year since 2003 and been able to set up a large stabilization/rainy day fund ($156 billion in 2007).

Russia has been implementing economic reforms in the tax, banking, labor and land codes to improve the business climate. To join the World Trade Organization, Russia has found it necessary to modernize and regularize its regulations and laws to comply with international trade standards. Entrepreneurship in Russia is thriving, and there are more small and medium-sized businesses in Russia. As a result, U.S. companies will find more innovation and less bureaucracy when doing business in Russia.

What Does Russia Import Now?
In 2007, 54% of Russian imports were machinery, equipment and transport equipment. About 14% or Russian imports were chemical products and rubber. Food products and agricultural raw materials were also about 14% of Russian imports.

There was a total of about $27 billion of import/export business in 2007 between America and Russia. In America exported about $7.4 billion in goods to Russia in 2007. This was an increase of 57% increase over 2006, which is a dramatic increase. Among the export markets for US goods, Russia is currently the 20th-largest U.S. export market. U.S. businesses exported machinery, vehicles, meat (mostly poultry), aircraft, electrical equipment, and high-tech products to Russia.

Telecommunications
Wireless communication is extremely popular among Russians. The mobile penetration in Russia is about 100%. There are about 190 million subscribers in Russia with a 131% penetration rate as of February 2009.

The technology used in Russia includes:
1. GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) – most popular international phone technology. The fact that it is used in 212 countries means that subscribers can use their phones in many parts of the world.
2. GPRS ( General packet radio service) – can be upgraded to SMS (Short Message Systems) which are very fast and also Multimedia Messaging Service, which sends messages that include multimedia objects (images, audio, video, rich text).
3. EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) – allows improved data transmission rates. EDGE is considered a 3G radio technology (now deployed by AT&T in the US.)

American businesses will have no problem finding Russian companies that want to purchase mobile phones. Many Russian companies advertise on trading web sites that they want to purchase mobile phones. For example, one Malovatov S.N. has been trading GSM Mobile Phones in Russia since 2001. Malatov buys new new GSM Mobile Phones manufactured and certified for to be distributed in Russian Federation. The Malatov ad states that they are open to any reliable suppliers of brand new GSM mobile phones and provides contact information. Malatov is just one of the companies seeking mobile phone suppliers.

In addition, Russian companies are seeking suppliers of laptops, ipods, pda, televisions, and radios. For example, Lincon Corporation in St. Petersburg is seeking suppliers of certain brands for these products, including Acer, Dell, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba. Another company, Agro Dynamics had an ad that they are seeking suppliers for a range of products including laptops, as well as tractors, buses, cables, mini-trucks, fertilizers, and welding machines.

Many people do not realize that Russia has extensive broadband lines that provide high speed internet access. There are about 4.9 million broadband lines in Russia, as of 2007, of which about 72 % are cable modems and the rest are DSL.

Pharmaceuticals
About 75% of pharmaceuticals sold in Russia are imported, and there is particular demand for innovative drugs. The value of Russian pharmaceutical imports is estimated at $6.1 billion USD in 2006, which is an increase of 43.4% over 2005. Germany and France provided over 30% of imports of pharmaceuticals to Russia. These growth rates represent a big opportunity for US business. While Germany and France are the biggest suppliers of pharmaceuticals to Russia (30%), there is plenty of room for US business in this market. As the 100 million people are in the 15-64 age bracket get older, there will be a continuing and expanding demand for pharmaceuticals that can be supplied by US companies.

Russia is expanding health insurance for its citizens and this is likely to improve their ability to purchase health care products. In January 2005, Russia established a new system of providing drugs to vulnerable population groups. By 2010, Russian plans to implement health insurance that will enable all of her people to obtain free or low-cost prescription drugs. This program will certainly increase demand for pharmaceuticals in Russia.

Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Business
U.S. businesses are already exporting machinery, vehicles, meat. aircraft, electrical equipment, and high-tech products to Russia. Telecommunications and pharmaceuticals are just two examples of the markets in Russia with great potential for the future. U.S. companies seeking to expand sales have every reason to check out the market for their goods and services in Russia.