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Married to a Ukrainian wife: What global business environment taught me

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As a business professional, I’m married to a very elegant Ukrainian wife who runs an international business with me. Because 2019 and 2020 have witnessed some dramatic changes in the global business environment, I’d like to discuss how these discoveries made me more enlightened and made my marriage so much better!

What I learned from the tech war in 2019 (Foxconn: The Taiwanese Role within the Sino-American Tech War)

Taiwan is home to technological firms that operate as contract manufacturers. As the biggest tech company in Taiwan, Foxconn has major factories in Mainland China. However, currently, Foxconn faces a range of challenges internationally; therefore, this report will focus on the solutions to these problems.

Indeed, there are several key issues that need to be addressed.

Firstly, the largest Taiwanese electronic company Foxconn is a contract manufacturer that makes silicon-related products for other firms such as Apple. The global political economy dramatically influences Foxconn’s business, partly because Foxconn has big factories in Mainland China, and partly because China and the United States have started a technological cold war. Consequently, Foxconn probably has to move its factories to other countries such as India. Yet this increases the cost of logistics as well as the cost of shipping.

Here are my thoughts on marriage: never start a cold war with a Ukrainian wife because people from Ukraine value honesty and straightforward communication.

According to Hill and Hult (2017), the United States is the biggest free market economy in the world. In contrast, China is best characterized by a command economy: China is the typical example of state capitalism. If China actually becomes the world’s largest economy, this world will have a non-English speaking country, a non-Western country, a non-liberal democratic country as the largest economy (TED 2015). The rise of China will significantly affect the way in which the world operates in the future. As a consequence, the United States sees China as a potential threat to the West. Meanwhile, China understands that Western countries such as the United States fundamentally disagree with the Chinese political system. Hence, the Chinese government has strictly implemented media control and Internet censorship as a way to manage the stability of the Chinese society.

President Donald Trump is keen to start the technology cold war with China so more factories will be built in the United States, thereby offering Americans more jobs. Because President Donald Trump had been a businessman for several decades, he tends to use business and economics as tools to play political games. Because of the Sino-American tech cold war, Foxconn has received significantly fewer orders. Thus, Foxconn possibly has to move its factories from Mainland China to other countries where policies are more beneficial.

All pillars in an economy (and a relationship with a Ukrainian lady)are actually intertwined.

Obviously, the current Sino-American tech cold war is more than international business – it is also related to international politics and international security. It is clear that international business, international politics and international security are intertwined. To be more exact, Hill and Hult (2017) imply that the economic, political and legal systems of a country are interdependent as they interact with each other and influence each other in various ways. In doing so, these elements affect the level of economic wellbeing and business growth. Moreover, Spalding (2019) argues that the consequences the United States faces as a result of its economic connections to a command economy (a totalitarian state) whose government openly opposes Western core values are serious. Apparently, it is almost impossible to have a global free market system when the second biggest economy in the world (China) is not a participant. Worse still, electronics and sensors are being created for American consumers that send data to China to feed the government’s artificial intelligence systems (Spalding 2019). Because the United States claims that China is stealing its technology, the US government has already decided to ban American companies from doing business with China’s Huawei Technologies. Actually, I oftentimes see a marriage as dynamics – when one element in it is changing, other elements in it must change accordingly. That’s how my Ukrainian wife and I operate.

Extra insights on global business and international relationships:

Secondly, the trade sanction severely affects Taiwanese manufacturers and workers in China. To be more specific, Foxconn has suffered from profit loss to a large extent and more than one million workers in China have been affected as well, for now Foxconn has to look at other locations to build factories. Shan (2019) states that February 2019 was when the trade war started to have a major impact; September 2019 was when the US’s tariff increased another $125 billion worth of Chinese imports and China’s tariff increased additional $75 billion worth of American goods.

Thirdly, labor costs in China have dramatically increased recently. It is reported that the minimum wage in China has increased by 64% since 2011 (Trading Economics 2019). Although inland provinces in China lack the same infrastructure and their labor costs are lower, highly developed provinces in China have significantly increased their workers’ wages these days. Clearly, due to China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, Chinese workers have benefited from continuously increasing wages for years (Koty& Zhou 2019). In this day and age, a regular factory worker’s daily wage in China is $27.50; a regular factory worker’s daily wage in Indonesia is $8.60; a regular factory worker’s daily wage in Vietnam is $6.70; a regular factory worker’s daily wage in the Philippines is $5.50; a regular factory worker’s daily wage in Mexico is $5.10; a regular factory worker’s daily wage in India is $4.86 (Bureau of Foreign Trade 2019). Thus, the lowest prices for manufacturing can be found in India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico nowadays (Yan 2017). Nevertheless, China’s seas do make shipping timely and cost-efficient. Apart from that, China and Taiwan share the same language and culture. More importantly, both Mainland China and Taiwan benefit from the economic implications of Confucianism. Hill and Hult (2017) claim that three values central to the Confucian system of ethics benefit businesses tremendously – reciprocal obligations, loyalty and honesty in dealings with others. In Confucian thought, loyalty to an employee’s superiors is considered to be a sacred duty which is also seen as an absolute obligation. In a company based in Confucian culture, the loyalty which binds employees to the leaders of their company could reduce the conflict between management team and labor which is often found in class-conscious societies. As a result, cooperation between labor and management can be achieved at a relatively low cost in a culture where loyalty is highly valued. Also, reciprocal obligations are the glue that keeps networks together, meaning long-term business relationships can be built and maintained effectively in Mainland China and Taiwan. As for honesty in Confucian ethics, this element allows companies to trust each other more; hence, the costs of doing business are reduced in many ways (e.g. expensive lawyers are usually not required to resolve severe disputes). Hill and Hult (2017) indicate that Confucianism is the culture of Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan and South Korea. Nonetheless, Japan and South Korea have much higher labor costs; as a consequence, these two countries are not going to be considered when it comes to relocating Foxconn’s factories. Therefore, it is clear that there are many aspects to consider in this regard.

“Ukrainian women are not high-maintenance women.”

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