When looking to start or even continue international trading it is useful to have a Checklist against which to Check your progress.

For each international contract of sale or purchase some, or all, of the Categories below could be applicable. It is a useful tool with similarities to 5S or 5Y’s but with an application for exporters and/or importers.

Look at what the successful companies do well, where are they and, where are they selling?
Capture information for your market research. Collect and collate as much information as you can so that you can make informed decisions.
Define who your customers are – will they be the end user or an intermediary.  Identify sectors, markets and countries.
Leverage your connections, can they help you?  Linked in is a useful tool to make connections.
Understand if your company can actually meet anticipated demand. Understand the metrics of lead time.
Do you have enough resource to allow you to approach another country? A skills audit and potential training programme for employees will make sure that there is a Responsible Person on the payroll, a requisite of HMRC.
Do you have enough cash to increase production, to pay for resource and to fund a significant marketing campaign?
Internally communications will make sure that everyone invests in the idea of trading internationally.  Externally, should you consider a PR and/or a Social media campaign on the appropriate platform?
Your buyer may insist on an Incoterm that involves insurance.  Do you know the difference between the Cargo clauses?  How will you cover the risk of transport and/or of non-payment?
Customs compliance is mandatory, certain documents will be needed for the country you intend to approach.  Your company should be prepared to use such documents as a C88 but also be aware of the need to make customs declarations.
To avoid paying too much duty on imports or exports it is critical to ensure that you have the right classification for your goods.  A mistake here could be costly and/or result in action by HMRC.
Understand the difference between domestic contracts and those with an international focus.  Jurisdiction is key to remedies for non-performance.   Further note should be made of Trade Marks and Patent protection.
Getting the goods to market can be challenging in difficult climates or with certain products.  Investigate the best way to get your goods to market by getting quotations from several Freight Forwarders.  Selection of a trusted FF should be evidenced with a letter of appointment.
Mostly covered above in Customs but beware of non-tariff barriers to trade.  It is also imperative to ensure that any Origin documents are correct in support of a preferential tariff.
Think wider when looking to approach new markets than to just approach China or the US.  Commonwealth countries have shared legacies and values.
Look at Trade groupings, there are a great deal of multi-national and pluri-national agreements that offer ease of access points

Please note that this is not exhaustive – it is a prompt for Consideration.  Please feel free to Communicate and Circulate

By Linda Middleton Jones

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