As we come to the end of 2016 and face the beginning of 2017, what corporate practices are wise ones to adopt across the globe? How can we be both savvy to international business policies and mindful of best cross-cultural practices? Finally, what industries translate across languages and cultures to emerge as wise investments or industries to pursue, either as a practitioner or a financial investor?
Global Tax Law
It’s enormously helpful to be familiar with international tax law, especially if your company does business with companies abroad. The first and perhaps most obvious application of global tax laws is knowledge of what goods and services should be taxed and which shouldn’t. Increasingly, multinational companies are under increased scrutiny, especially because of their reputation for investing in corporate tax havens and abusive tax planning. Because of these historical abuses, countries are attempting to work together in order to prevent evasion of tax laws.
The recent Global Tax Policy Conference emphasized the importance of transparency and global relationships. It seems important that corporations from different countries view each other as financially supportive partners, rather than rivals. This last distinction is especially important, given the historical advantage that large, multinational corporations have had, tax-wise, as a result of what Fortune terms their “Armies of lawyers and accountants to circumvent if not the letter of the tax law, then at least its spirit.” Specifically, this was brought up in reaction to Apple’s hefty record of back-taxes owed to Ireland.
This past June, a large number of policymakers, business executives, and tax professionals attended the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) International Tax Conference, where they discussed “the OECD’s international tax initiatives and their impact on global trade and investment.” Notably, the United States Congress has still not passed legislation allowing the U.S. to sign on to the common reporting standard (CSR).
Language & Business
Business professionals wanting to brush up on international law might consider continuing education in global tax policy in conjunction with a foreign language like Spanish or Mandarin in order to gain the opportunity to develop relationships with international executives from countries like Spain or China. Because of the aforementioned, relatively new emphasis on international cooperation, when it comes to fair tax and business practices, it’s of vital importance that corporate accountants become well-versed in advanced treaty concepts, taxation of foreign losses, and taxation of foreign currency transactions.
Moreover, because of the new global nature of the economy, it ups a company’s credibility to ensure all corporate documents and materials are well-translated into whatever language necessary, in order to come across as competent and well-prepared, as well as internationally-savvy. Avoid relying on faulty Internet-based translation programs. Rather, you should ensure that your site is translated into both English and Spanish, for example, which not only makes you appear more professional to potential clients who are also Spanish-speaking, but you’ll also appear to be a more stable investment for corporate firms looking to invest or partner with like-minded or related businesses in similar or complementary industries.
The fact that you bothered to translate your materials and site will lend instant credibility to your company, in the eyes of international businesses interested in working with yours. Also, your company is likely to gain a positive reputation from being a resource for non-native English speakers. Potential clients will also appreciate not having to rely on Internet translations of your site, since such automatic translations are often unreliable.
I would say that all things local, natural, and organic are always a good bet, investment-wise, especially considering the modern interest in companies with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Older folks, especially, appreciate a sense of historical significance in their grocery bags or weekend shopping trips, so products with an old-world feel to them like lavender-infused oils or bath salts can be especially appealing. Apparently, lavender is the most popular essential oil in the world, in part because of its universally sought-after soothing and calming abilities. Perhaps another reason for its popularity is its ability to serve multiple functions: as medicinal salve, aromatherapy oil, or culinary herb.
Related to natural herbs and flowers, community supported agriculture (CSAs) memberships not only help benefit farmers, directly, but they also help the communities in which those farmers live and work. If you’d like to support international farmers and food products, consider researching Fair Trade USA, which works with food-based U.S.-based companies that responsibly source international growers and producers, or Global Goods Partners for handmade goods that benefit women and help them create sustainable change.
Other industries likely to experience growth include those tied to renewable energy, such as solar or wind-power-related companies, or international growth experts in places like Costa Rica, who are revolutionary in terms of the progress they’ve made in the eco-tourism industry. There’s also internationally-based education providers like the Institute of International Education, which helps provide emergency aid for international students and scholars, and it also helps increase opportunities for young Americans to study abroad, as well as access to higher education for women.
Lastly, some of the most profitable business ventures if you are considering striking out on your own or looking for investment opportunities, according to Entrepreneur, include accounting, management, real estate, vehicle rentals and leasing, legal services, dental services, and physicians’ services. For any of these businesses, the knowledge of a second or third language could only help your investments—whether they be financial or time-based. * * *
Globalization has made all of us more connected than ever before, and we’re only likely to become more so as online marketing continues to close the gap created by physical distance, language, and culture. I would be amiss if I failed to mention that the worldwide business of food production and distribution will perhaps be the one most tied to our environmental and economic well-being, and how we choose to move forward in our individual and collective choices could make or break the future of our world.
We must collectively make wise decisions in order to counteract the sense of disconnectedness that too many of us feel to our communities. The more cross-cultural and relatable we can render our places of work, the better. Small, everyday choices can make the difference between sustainable systems of business and out-of-control, hyper-industrialized corporate practices that are hopelessly disconnected from a manageable way of life that makes room for every person on the planet.
Image Source: Mark Doliner