From Fri Dec 31 08:15:09 2004
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 15:54:36 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] News Summary from RHC—Dec 30, 2004
Article: 200561
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

US Businesses Abroad Threatened by Rising Anti-Americanism

Radio Havana Cuba, 30 December 2003

Washington, December 30 (RHC)— Washington's foreign policy may be depriving US corporations of overseas profits, according to a new survey of 8,000 international consumers released this week by the Seattle-based Global Market Insite (GMI) Inc.

The opinion survey shows that brands closely identified with the United States such as Marlboro cigarettes, America Online (AOL), McDonald's, American Airlines, General Motors and Starbucks are particularly at risk. GMI, an independent market research company, conducted the survey in eight countries December 10th through the 12th, contacting consumers over the Internet.

One-third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom said that US foreign policy, especially its so-called “war on terror” and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest negative impression of the United States.

Twenty percent of respondents in Europe and Canada said they consciously avoided buying US products as a protest against those policies. That finding was consistent with a similar poll carried out by GMI three weeks after Bush's November re-election victory.

Whether US foreign policy under Bush is affecting the sales of US corporations overseas is being hotly debated by advertising and public relations firms, as well as the companies themselves. Last month, Kevin Roberts, chief executive of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, told the Financial Times of London that he believed consumers in Europe and Asia were becoming increasingly resistant to having “brand America rammed down their throats.”

Simon Anholt, author of ‘Brand America’ has also predicted a consumer backlash against US foreign policy. He recently told the British trade magazine, ‘Marketing Week’, that four more years of Bush's foreign policy could have grave consequences for US companies' international market share. He told the weekly magazine that there are already been casual protest brands, such as Mecca Cola, which are primarily political—but that there are new situations on the horizon. He said that German restaurants, for instance, are beginning to refuse American Express cards.

Allyson Stewart-Allen, co-author of the book ‘Working with Americans,’ said: “American companies are accused of aggressiveness and arrogance because they insist on imposing the American way of doing things on their international markets; they are inflexible.” She argued that the more US companies distance themselves from their American identity, the better they will survive in the international marketplace.

The latest poll found that more than two-thirds of European and Canadian consumers have had a negative change in their view of the United States as a result of US foreign policy over the last three years. Nearly half believe that the war in Iraq was motivated by a desire to control oil supplies, while only 15 percent believed it was related to terrorism.

Nearly two-thirds of European and Canadian consumers also said they believe US foreign policy is guided primarily by self-interest and empire-building, while only 17 percent believe that the defense of freedom and democracy is its guiding principle.

Half of the entire sample said they distrusted US companies, at least in part because of US foreign policy. Seventy-nine percent said they distrusted the US government for the same reason, while 39 percent said they don’t trust the American people.