Pew Survey: U.S. is still leading economic power but China gaining ground


The world’s people believe the global balance of power is shifting, but the United States — not China — is still viewed as the leading economic power, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Pluralities or majorities in 22 of the 39 countries surveyed by Pew viewed the U.S. as the country with the strongest economy. A median of 44 percent gave the United States the top spot, compared to 30 percent for China.

But the American public and the populations of Canada and some of the United States’ closest European allies already view China as the dominant economic power, according to Pew’s global attitudes survey. Forty-four percent of Americans opted for China and 39 percent said the United States was No. 1.

In Britain, 53 percent said China belonged in the top spot, while 59 percent of Germans said China is the leading economy. Only 19 percent in Germany said the United States is the world’s leading economy.

Asian, Latin American and African countries tended to think more highly of the United States’ economic clout, and even a plurality of Chinese agreed. Forty-six percent in China said the United States was the leading economy vs. 30 percent for China.

But when it comes to global image, the United States clearly maintained its dominance, according to the survey. A median of 63 percent said they had a favorable opinion of the United States, while only 50 percent said the same about China.

Building on that sentiment, 59 percent of the populations surveyed said they considered the United States a partner, compared to 39 percent for China.

It appears that at least some of China’s image problems stem from its attitude toward personal freedoms. A median of 70 percent said the United States respected the personal freedom of its people, while only a median of 36 percent gave the same answer for China.

“Since the 2008 financial crisis, perceptions about the economic balance of power in the world have been shifting,’’ the study said.

For example, comparing the 20 nations surveyed in both 2008 and 2013, the median percentage that viewed the United States as the dominant world economic power declined from 47 percent to 41 percent — even as China’s star rose. In the same time frame, the median percentage putting China in the leading position rose from 20 percent to 34 percent.

The survey also found that the populations of 23 of 39 nations thought that China had already or would eventually eclipse the United States as the world’s top superpower.

Tapping the world energy market

How do you build an international energy company from a suburban Miami base?

One route is to look for strategic relationships in international markets a company wants to target.

That’s what Doral-based SoEnergy International, which provides power plants and energy solutions, did this summer when it began a strategic partnership with Masaood John Brown International, a United Arab Emirates company that provides services and maintenance services for industrial gas turbines throughout the world. Most of its work involves overhauling GE frame turbines used in power generation.

“What’s interesting for us is they have lots of business in Africa and the Middle East, but they don’t have coverage in Latin America where we do,’’ said Brett Hall, SoEnergy’s vice president of finance.

Masaood John Brown used to be a joint venture partner of John Brown Engineering, a Scottish company. When GE bought John Brown, the Al Masaood Group didn’t want to sell its 51 percent interest and it now wholly owns Masaood John Brown.

Under the new strategic arrangement, SoEnergy will help MJB sell its turbine rebuilds in Latin America and together the two will pursue projects where they can sell energy.

SoEnergy supplies temporary power plants and also builds permanent power plants that it will turn over to a client on completion or run for a customer.

For its power-generating projects, the Doral company mostly has employed engines, rather than large turbines.

“Using the turbines will basically put us at another level,’’ said Hall, “and enable us to expand our product mix.’’

Meanwhile, MJB will be better able to compete for a piece of the $240 million turbine overhaul market in Latin America.

The new strategic relationship with MJB International isn’t the only change at SoEnergy. It also has a new name. Until recently it was known as Energy International.

“We didn’t want such a generic name. There are several other ones out there,’’ said Hall. So it decided to adopt SoEnergy — the name used by its subsidiaries in Argentina and Brazil. “It was similar to our old name, but different enough to differentiate.’’

SoEnergy has around 1,000 employees worldwide, including 40 at its Doral headquarters where it hopes to add another 10 this year.

“This is really a transitional year for us,’’ said Hall. “We’re trying to bring in investors and we’re trying to create a worldwide company.’’

A business of her own

Where would a woman entrepreneur most likely thrive in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay have the best environments for female entrepreneurs, according to a new index from the Economist Intelligence Unit. It was commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund.

To create the Women’s Entrepreneurial VentureScope index, 20 countries were analyzed for factors that most affect women’s success in entrepreneurship. Among them: business operating risks, the entrepreneurial environment, access to financing, educational advancement by women and the availability of business training and social services such as childcare.

“Latin American women are among the most entrepreneurial on the globe,’’ said Nancy Lee, general manager of the Multilateral Investment Fund, which supports economic growth and poverty reduction in the region. But, she said, women are “still greatly underrepresented” as owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

Chile clinched the top spot in the index because of low economic risks, its strong supplier diversity initiatives and the availability of social services. Peru was a close second because of its strong business networks and technical support programs for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Costa Rica, which ranked sixth overall, had the highest-rated business climate for women entrepreneurs in Central America. With high education levels and good access to financing for women, Trinidad and Tobago ranked first among Caribbean nations and eighth overall.

Havana business fair

The Havana International Fair, a showcase for business products from around the world, will be held Nov. 3-9 at the ExpoCuba fairgrounds on the outskirts of Havana.

U.S. companies began participating in the fair after the United States eased embargo restrictions in 2000, allowing the export of food, agricultural products and medicines to Cuba. Among U.S. brands that were on display at the annual fair last year were Kellogg’s, Hormel, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

During the 2012 edition of the fair, more than 3,000 companies from 62 countries participated with a goal of winning contracts with the Cuban government.

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