In 2011, China surpassed Japan to become the world’s #2 economy based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), second only to the United States. That was a very significant event for America, since it means that we now need to shift the focus of our international trade to China, and significantly increase our export to this emerging and largest market in the world as well.
For Tennessee, China is currently ranked 3rd in the amount of trade it does with our state, exceeded only by Canada and Mexico. Each year, TN trades $1.3 billion worth of goods with China. However, though this number is impressive, it is in fact still quite insignificant compared to what the US imports from China annually ($250 billion).
The number one priority of businesses of yesterday was internal, i.e., how to make a product. However, the number one priority of businesses today is external, i.e., how to sell a product. A company today can not be successful if it can not sell its product. And accordingly, a country can not be successful either if it can not export its product. And, the first step in selling a product is to understand customers and that is where America is falling short. While the rest of the world is studying hard about us, we have been largely uninterested in understanding them, who they are and what they need. Understanding other cultures and people is no longer the right thing to do as a world citizen, it is an economic necessity now since the people in the rest of the world are our customers now!