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The Insider’s Guide To Starting Starting an Import / Export Business

By Timothy Smith

Legal Notices No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,

including photocopying or recording,

or by any information storage and retrieval system,

or transmitted by email without permission in writing from the publisher

While all attempts have been made to verify the information provided in this publication,

neither the author nor the publisher assumes any responsibility for errors,

or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein

This publication is not intended for use as any source of advice such as legal,

The publisher wants to stress that the information contained herein may be subject to varying international,

and/or local laws or regulations

The purchaser or reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information

Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations,

state and local governing professional licensing,

and all other aspects of doing business in the US,

Canada or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the purchaser or reader

Neither the author nor the publisher assume any responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of the purchaser or reader of these materials

Any perceived slight of any individual or organization is purely unintentional

One last thing before we begin

You do not have reprint rights to this manual

You may not give this manual away

You paid for it,

and only you should be reading it

Caroline Silver has worked hard on this material,

so please respect this copyright by keeping these materials to yourself


Types of Export/Import Entities

Customs Bonded Warehouse

45 Sales

Selling yourself

Introduction Why start an Export Import Business

? What business can be started with little financial investment and yet gets you rich dividends along with a distinction of being connected globally

? The answer lies in the Import Export sector

A home-grown business of import/export exemplifies the evergreen business mantra of thinking globally and acting locally

The most important factors that act as a catalyst in the success of the business are also the simplest

good organizational skills and determination to make it work

Most manufacturers based in the United States supply goods in North America

Those who have managed to find markets for their produce in foreign shores constitute a small percentage of entrepreneurs who are exporters


lays a great opportunity that can work wonders,

Your role will be that of a bridge between domestic manufacturers and foreign shores or even foreign manufactures and the United States market

As an importer/exporter your earnings can be extremely lucrative at 10 per cent of the deal

Whether you are looking at an export/import market for machinery,

raw materials or computers the 10 per cent can well be around $500,000 or even a million U

Types of Export/Import Entities Broadly,

there are three categories that you need educate yourself about before going into this form of entrepreneurial venture

Export Management Company (EMC) that represents a package deal where the domestic manufacturer participates only with his/her desire to sell produce in foreign markets


responsibilities are many: •

Advertising and promotion of the product in the target market

Hiring dealers,

distributors and marketing executives

Supervising marking and packaging

Shipping arrangements

(Financial necessities of domestic manufacturers are also looked after by EMCs) Selection of EMC type is need and ability based

EMCs can be found in different variations from specialist firms dealing in a particular product or a particular market to ‘general practitioner’ EMCs that deal in a variety of goods in different markets across the globe

It depends on the EMC and its client on the mode of payment

commission or retainer fee with commission,

the earnings are usually very good

Export trading company (ETC) is focussed on gauging the demands of a foreign buyer

This requires a good deal of knowledge of market conditions,

consumer demands and changes in foreign markets

The ETC has to know the pulse of the foreign consumers and which products make them feel like spending money

Once this initial market survey is complete,

ETC concentrates its energies on identifying domestic manufacturers who can fulfill this demand and are willing to export

This type of export oriented companies sometimes adopt the distributor’s role in selling goods in foreign markets,

while the same set up is equally viable for commission-based services

Import/Export merchant is an international entrepreneur who works as a freelancer

There are no limitations or specifications usually associated with an import/export merchant when it comes to describing his/her client base

Versatility is the essence of the merchant

An import/export merchant first purchases goods from a domestic or a foreign manufacturer

The merchant relies on himself for packing and shipping of the goods

His final job is to sell the products

In this form of import/export business the risk factor is quite high,

Are you cut out for International Trade

? Do you think you have the capabilities that are so essential for International Trade

? Here are some points to consider

do you have the ability to convince and sell products with a diplomatic approach

? If your answers to these queries are in the affirmative,

then you certainly have got a new horizon awaiting you in the import/export business at U

In the span of a very short time you can start making good money with minimum overhead expenditures

Researching your Target Market Your target clientele will be domestic or foreign companies that are hampered by their limitations in reach,

The opportunities are plenty with hundreds of manufacturers looking for a distribution network in foreign countries

Electronic gadgets,

even tools for that matter can be imported and exported

The only two pre-conditions that need to be considered are

Setting up an export oriented enterprise in the United States will be aided by helpful government agencies

Not surprising,

since the United States Government encourages exports which helps keep balance of payments with expenditures incurred in import of goods

The export/import field is largely unexplored

According to the U

Department of Commerce 96 percent of the U

export market is untapped and wide open for the enterprising entrepreneur

One of the key requirements of achieving success,

is sound market research before you zero-in on a product

This is critical and should be carried out meticulously

Simply put,

an Import/Export Business can be extremely lucrative

The key is to apply the right skills and strategies

The guidelines given in this guide are based on proven strategies that have worked for many

Most dream of establishing their own business but only a few succeed

I’ll show you how to turn your dreams into reality

So let's get started

Starting an Import/Export Business

The Business Structure A business is a legal entity that has rights and responsibilities

Starting a new business requires immense effort and planning

There is a considerable amount of paperwork involved

One of the first tasks of setting up a business is to determine the business or legal structure

Rules and policies governing these legal structures depend on the state you live in

In general,

there are three main types of Legal Structures

These are: •

Sole Proprietorship



Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship is a business run by one person

There is not much distinction between the person and the business in case of sole proprietorship

For instance,

all profits are considered to be your own profits,

and thus all business income is considered as personal income


business losses are considered to be personal losses as well

The business stops operating as soon as you stop working

To start as a sole proprietorship,

you must contact your federal and local regulatory boards

Information on these boards can be obtained by simply searching on the Internet

These boards lay out all rules and regulations pertaining to such a business structure


rules may differ from state-to-state,

there are some common requirements for starting a sole proprietorship


you may require a Business License as per your state policy

Some businesses are exempt from obtaining a business license

The local regulatory

board would be the best source to verify whether your business requires a Business License

Secondly you must register your DBA or Fictitious Business Name

This is crucial in preventing frauds


if you decide to run your Import /Export business from home,

you may require a Zone Permit from the local authorities

The Department of Zoning controls what type of businesses can be run from residential places

Apart from these,

there are other legal considerations for International Trade

These are discussed in detail in subsequent sections of this book

Sole Proprietorships are the most common and simplest forms of businesses,

especially in the case of small businesses

These are easy to set up and operate


the initial costs involved in setting up a sole proprietorship are quite low

There are,

The most prominent disadvantage is that if your company suffers a loss,

you pay out of your own pocket

This can be extremely substantial


if you intend to grow in the future,

sole proprietorship may not be the best option


Partnership is very similar to the above business structure


in the case of sole proprietorship,

partnership can be considered to be a proprietorship business run by two or more people

Most of the legal requirements and documents required to establish a partnership (such as Business License,

and so on) are similar to sole proprietorship


there is one additional requirement which can also termed to be the most important legal requirement of Partnerships – The Partnership Agreement

The Partnership Agreement is essential for any business

It delineates in legal terms what role each partner plays in the business

It lays out the job assignments,


it also presents a roadmap to resolve disputes,

and death of any of the partners


you would be starting your website design business to make profits and grow

Even if you have friends or family as your partners you MUST enter into a Partnership Agreement with all of them

Partnership businesses have all the benefits of a sole proprietorship structure

In addition,

it helps you share the burden of your work,

provides additional experience that is so crucial in the success of a business,

and helps in raising more funds

Like the sole proprietorship structure,

partnership also has similar disadvantages

All partners bear the brunt of losses themselves


in case of partnerships any partner is liable for 100% of the business debt

In other words,

if your partner is responsible for the entire business debt,

you would have to accept equal responsibility and pay out of your own pocket

This is certainly not a good thing

It is thus imperative that if you decide to enter into a partnership,

you have partners that are completely trustworthy


This is the most legally sound business structure

Corporation by itself is a legal entity which is distinct from you

Unlike in the cases of proprietorships and partnerships,

the corporation (and not you) makes profits,

This way your personal assets are safe even if your corporation experiences losses

In a nutshell,

you are the representative of the corporation but not the corporation itself

This provides much higher legal stability as compared to the options discussed above


you can grow to no bounds if you form a corporation


forming corporations requires more time and money

What is the best option when it comes to Import/Export

? There are many factors such as location,

and so on that must be taken into account before deciding on the structure

Forming a corporation would not be such a bad idea,

even if it means higher expenses

The legal stability you get with corporations is unmatched and can propel you to grow your business very well

Deciding on a Business Name

The name of your business should represent everything you are within a few words

These words should be few but very powerful

! It is extremely important that you pick a name that people can easily pronounce and remember

Avoid using geographical areas unless you plan on working in one geographical area for the rest of your life,

One great myth is that the more elaborate the name,

! The key is that you want a name that is catchy,

Many times your name is the only information a customer will see


the name of your business should clearly identify the services you provide

Give some special time and consideration when choosing your business name

Once you’ve decided on a name,

make sure you are happy with it because it will stick with you

It is difficult to change your name once you have already begun to establish your business

You will have to change it on your web site,

billing statements and advertisements,

which can cost hundreds of dollars

Once you have decided on a business name that works for you,

it’s a good idea to check with your state business licensing department or Secretary of State to make sure you’re not using a name that is already being used or trademarked

You can check for trademarked names online by visiting the Patent and Trademark online Web site located at http://www

Legal Requirements and Business Know-How The Legal Requirements The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Export Administration (BXA) has simplified the official procedure to get a clearance to export domestic products

Newly drafted regulations make it easy for you to determine whether you require a licence for the export

To ascertain whether you require a licence you need to classify the products you wish to export

The country which you chose to export is also crucial for licensing

A product classification can be easily carried out according to the rules set by the BXA

You would then have to compare these with a chart to determine if you require applying for a licence to

export goods to your target country

Export Administration Regulations (EAR) control transactions of export-oriented products

Lending an ear to the needs of the exporting community,

BXA has moulded EAR in a manner beneficial to the exporting units,

especially for those new to this trade

Export controls have also been liberalized on products manufactured by U

companies that are popular in foreign markets

EAR puts forth a list of 10 categories for export items,

Each category has several entries that have Export Control Classification Numbers

The Commerce Control List and the Country Chart define export items that are subject to export control norms

The control norms are based on technical characteristics of the product and the destination country

The items that do not require a licence can be easily spotted on the CCL,

Some products require a licence because EAR is not the same for all countries in context with issues that are important for United States at large

These issues include national security,

non-proliferation and foreign policy considerations

Another point to remember is that service is a very important part of many types of representation agreements

Quality of after-sales services in a foreign country affects the U

manufacturer's reputation there

Employing a representative supervising sale and distribution in a foreign market is also possible

However agreements with any representative for your company at a foreign shore should be very clear on the nature of repair and service facility that is available in the target market

Keeping an eye out for details is essential for this aspect too

training facilities and cost associated with maintenance of such the support network

Your credibility depends on delivering what you promise


will keep changing for different countries in keeping with available service facilities there

Your agreement with the foreign representative should also detail the training you will provide to him

This detail should be specific on frequency of training,

where the training is to be provided,

and which party absorbs travel and per diem costs

Business Know-How

- A primer

! International trading requires that you be an enthusiastic sales executive who can make his sales pitches in a diplomatic fashion

If you cannot make a convincing sales pitch,

or sales talks make you blanch,

For being a good international trader,

you have to develop excellent organizational skills

An eye for detail is a critical factor for any export/import trader

You have to put your energies to tracking down invoices and shipping receipts,

if you cannot stomach this chase then better keep away

For an enthusiastic international trader the impetus to stretch out to the horizon comes from the desire to gain valuable experience while dealing with people of diverse cultures

Of course,

it always helps if you already have a background in import/export

this has not prevented new entrepreneurs from joining the U

This trade is largely based on a very simple logic

companies in foreign countries

The rewards of being part of this international trading arena are growing by leaps and bounds

If the world is getting smaller by the day,

cash registers of export/import business are ringing ever louder

Import/Export is big business in U

According to the U

Department of Commerce the import sector accounts for more than $870 billion in goods and services

Exporting is equally big with American companies exporting $349 billion worth of merchandise to 226 foreign countries

Right from beverages to any other commodity,

export possibilities are plenty

A savvy trader

is easily able to track down foreign markets transform domestic products into global merchandise

A very large portion (96 per cent according to U

Department of Commerce) of the export sector remains untapped,

and thus open to an entrepreneur

There are three reasons that contribute to the growth of International Trade in the U

(a) There are many popular products that are not grown or produced in the domestic market,

and subsequently have to be imported

For example bananas have to be imported in Alaska

(b) Certain other cachet items are imported because it makes the goods more appealing for the consumers

For instance,

champagne and caviar are more acceptable within the domestic market if they are imported

This is owing to the “image” associated with such goods

Imported German beer or French perfumes are always considered classier in comparison to the home grown variety

(c) Certain goods like Korean toys and Mexican clothing are cheaper when imported

These products represent that group which costs far less if manufactured and assembled at factories in foreign countries

A thumb rule that is often associated with this trade is,

those goods and services that are inexpensive to manufacture in the domestic circuit are fit to be exported

While services and goods that can be produced more efficiently elsewhere and have a demand in domestic market are imported

Resources and technology are the two factors that decide whether manufacture of a particular product will be inexpensive enough to export

For instance,

a company with abundance of oil resources may need to import clothing

Developing contacts is the most important step in this trade

A person who is well informed about global business can take a very lucrative ride on the crest of worldwide trends

Relatives in a foreign country can easily become a starting point for building contacts

Even an idea about what product could sell in a particular market will set you going

Foreign consulates in the United States are a good place to start your search

Unites States embassies across the globe are other potential information points to begin finding contacts for commercial distribution

These government departments can also help you research a company's solvency and reputation before striking a deal

The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of any city is another avenue for locating good contacts for international trade

The trick is to start small

Usually researching about what American goods can sell in other countries,

or what countries have the merchandise you want to import is critical

Studying demand patterns in various countries is very helpful before taking a plunge

The next step is to start mailing letters to different addresses

Using a tool that is equipped to produce the same letter with different address each time is worth the money

To every potential contact write a letter introducing your company,

explaining your necessity and then requesting for names and addresses of firms that would qualify as your target clientele

When interacting with the target clients,

using an easy-to-fill questionnaire,

usually gets quick and good response

Basic issues to be addressed in this interaction are goods they want to import,

what different kinds of products are imported at present,

how strong are the distribution network

History of the organisation,

details of its activities can be learnt in this process

If the contact company is a manufacturer then it is only fair for you to ask for samples/catalog,

details of existing foreign distribution and demand for products in the target country

In a nutshell,

you should do considerable research to learn the know-how before you venture into this business

The above mentioned tips are elaborated in further detail throughout the course of this book

Start-Up Costs A classy letterhead and a telephone at home can get you started on your export/import business venture

The other requirements too are easily fulfilled with a file system,

Soon as you start trading you might require a cable address

or telex connection If you are wondering about the “classy letter head” part,

then it has proved to be a very practical and rewarding move

Till you have managed to get going and establish personal contacts it is your letter head that creates an impression about your company in the minds of your clients

Lending a professional touch to the letter head is recommended

gold leafed are different styles that are adopted frequently

Determination to achieve your goal is one factor that is absolutely essential for success

Going is bound to be slow at first,

as is in many business ventures

In order to optimise your resources and contacts a planned and organised approach is needed for making good contacts and also for selling yourself to the international and domestic players

All this perspiration will be well rewarded soon enough

Make a few sales and clinch some exclusive contracts and you will find that the labours are well paying

The other expenditure and effort you need to make is keeping in touch with trade publications,

magazines and financial reports

Keeping yourself updated about demands in foreign markets and the players in the arena

We would not go too much into detail about the cost of your inventory

This is something that is covered later

Simply put,

the cost can be kept minimal by starting with only a few products

You may buy these at wholesale prices and import them


with only a few items you can easily store them in your own cellar or spare room

With the right contacts,

you may be able to start your Import/Export Business for as low as $1000

The Market Research Plan

Market research for export/import traders starts from climatic,

easy availability of raw materials,

different degrees of purchasing power and the local government’s restrictions on import

Testing the potential of foreign markets for domestic products sums up the ‘market research’

The idea is to identify prospective buyers and opportunities in foreign countries while keeping an eye on the government-imposed constraints

You can conduct your research using primary and secondary data sources

Primary market research can be defined as a company collecting data directly from the foreign market through interviews and surveys

This method is apt for tailor-made products and needs of the exporter


the process is time consuming and often expensive too

Secondary market research is all about collecting data from various sources like trade statistics of a foreign market or a particular product

While this method is less expensive,

it also allows you to focus your energies on marketing the products

The catch in this mode of market research is data available from trade or government sources is often found to be more than a couple of years old

While statistics could be distorted due to inefficient data-collection techniques,

in many foreign markets such statistical trade data is not available

secondary research is found to be more effective and practical

Market research is used to determine which foreign markets have the best potential for U

Valuable information is procured about which are the largest markets for the selected produce or which are the fastest growing markets,

market conditions and practices

Knowing about other firms and products with whom the U

exporter will compete with are also part of this research

You can also approach the U

Department of Commerce and other government agencies to obtain experts’ advice

Attending seminars,

workshops and international trade shows is also recommended

Hiring an international trade and marketing consultant and speaking to other exporters of similar products are other practical approaches to know the nuances of trading in foreign markets chosen by you

To screening potential export markets will need you to obtain export statistics that will indicate where U

Census Bureau can help exporters in this regard

Trade statistics are also available at the National Trade Data Bank (NTDB)

The final word on this strategy is to have it in black and white after arriving at a decision

Strengths and weaknesses of a particular strategy are more evident when you write it,

enabling you to work to strengthen the weak links

Easy to remember,

hard to overlook are just a few of the other benefits of having a written marketing strategy

Is your company ready to Import/Export As stated earlier,

evaluating the export potential for a particular product is very important

If your product has unique features that have not been duplicated elsewhere then your product is likely to record good sales in the overseas’ markets

Such a product will have little competition while the demand could be high due to its type and quality

To gauge whether your company is ready to export its products,

you can ask yourself these questions: •

What amount of profit does the company want to make from exporting

Will exporting be consistent with other company goals

Exporting produce will mean additional demand

What kind of pressure will this put on your company’s resources and production capacity

? Are you ready to cope with these factors

Finally you should evaluate if the additional expenditure is worth incurring as compared to the profits or whether if you should focus on developing new domestic business

If you are decided on exporting then the next step is to balance your company’s goals by optimising capabilities and reducing constraints

Viability of an export plan is also rooted to the consent of the real executors of your plan

Before you take the plunge,

be sure to go through this checklist: •

List of products selected for export development

List containing selling price of the products chosen for export

Modifications to be made to adapt the firm’s product-quality for overseas markets

List of target foreign markets for sales promotion

Customer profile of each market

List supply channels used to reach your products to the foreign consumers

Unique factors (like competitors,

import restrictions) associated with each market and strategy to act accordingly

Number of personnel and list of company resources dedicated to exporting

Expenditure incurred to implement each phase of your export and sale plans

When to evaluate the results of your enterprise should also be premeditated so that modifications are made in plans to improve performance

For beginners,

the export plan can be simple with considerable clarity of thought

As you learn more about exporting and the needs of foreign markets,

you keep adding to the basic plan


! Do not start your export activities without market screening and research

You may take this liberty,

but only if your product has already got orders from suppliers in a foreign market

While this process could make or break an exporter,

what is more important is that even if you are experiencing a degree of success,

you should still aim at improving on your profits

By not researching and applying your mind to minute details you might be passing up on more lucrative export opportunities

To form a practical export-strategy base,

your efforts on gathering reliable information

Proper assessment of this data base is also extremely essential

These rather commonsensical management techniques help you in the long run by pointing towards the right way to optimise use of resources

Right planning is the best way to success

You are now familiar with the basics of International Trade

We would now get into the specifics of this industry

In the next chapter,

we take a look at some of the different methods that can be employed for effective trade

Employing Different Methods and Channels Handling Distribution in Foreign Countries For an export company to succeed it is very important to handle distribution in foreign countries efficiently

An export company can distribute its products in foreign markets in a number of ways by hiring representatives of the company in the foreign country

These include (a) Sales Representatives (b) Agents/Representatives (c) Distributors and (d) Foreign Retailers Sales Representatives: Overseas,

a sales representative is the equivalent of a manufacturer's representative in the United States

The representative uses the company's product literature and samples to present the product to potential buyers

A representative usually handles many complementary lines that do not conflict and usually works on a commission basis

Agents: The widely misunderstood term "agent" means a representative who normally has authority,

perhaps even a power of attorney,

to make commitments on behalf of the firm he or she represents

It is important that any contract state whether the representative or agent does or does not have legal authority to obligate the firm

Distributors: The foreign distributor is a merchant who purchases goods from a U

exporter and resells it for a profit

The foreign distributor generally provides support and service for the product

The distributor usually carries an inventory of products and a sufficient supply of spare parts and also maintains adequate facilities and personnel for normal servicing operations

Foreign Retailers:

A company may also sell directly to foreign retailers,

although in such transactions,

products are generally limited to consumer lines

The growth of major retail chains in markets such as Canada and Japan has created new opportunities for this type of direct sale

This method relies mainly on traveling sales representatives who directly contact foreign retailers,

although results might also be achieved by mailing catalogs,

Types of Export The most common types of exporting are indirect selling and direct selling In indirect selling,

an export intermediary such as an export management company (EMC) or an export trading company (ETC) normally assumes responsibility for finding overseas buyers,

In direct selling,

producer deals directly with a foreign buyer

The way your company chooses to export its products can have a significant effect on its export plan and specific marketing strategies

There are at least four approaches,

which may be used alone or in combination: Passively filling orders from domestic buyers who then export the product These sales are indistinguishable from other domestic sales as far as the original seller is concerned

Someone else has decided that the product in question meets foreign demand

That party takes all the risk and handles all of the exporting details,

in some cases without even the awareness of the original seller

Seeking out domestic buyers who represent foreign end users or customers Many U

foreign distributors and retailers,

and others in the United States purchase for export

These buyers are a large market for a wide variety of goods and services

In this case a company may know its product is being exported,

but it is still the buyer who assumes the risk and handles the details of exporting

Exporting indirectly through intermediaries With this approach,

a company engages the services of an intermediary firm capable of finding foreign markets and buyers for its products

international trade consultants,

and other intermediaries can give the exporter access to well-established expertise and trade contacts

Exporting directly This approach is the most ambitious and difficult,

since the exporter personally handles every aspect of the exporting process from market research and planning to foreign distribution and collections


a significant commitment of management time and attention is required to achieve good results


this approach may also be the best way to achieve maximum profits and long-term growth

Seeking Foreign Representatives When taking the route of going through foreign representatives for export,

it is very important that you find the right kind of representatives

Once your company has identified a number of potential representatives in the selected market,

you should write and/or fax directly to each providing detailed information on your company and its products


you should investigate potential representatives carefully before entering into an agreement

Much of this information can be obtained from business associates who currently work with foreign representatives


exporters should not hesitate to ask potential representatives or distributors detailed and specific questions

Your company should also consider other private-sector sources for credit checks of potential business partners

In addition,

you may wish to obtain at least two supporting businesses and credit reports to ensure that the representative is reputable

Reports from a number of companies are available from commercial firms and from the Department of Commerce's International Company


Commercial firms and banks are also sources of credit information on overseas representatives

If your firm has the necessary information,

you may wish to contact a few of the foreign firm's existing U

clients to obtain an evaluation of the prospective representative

To protect itself against possible conflicts of interest,

it is also important for your firm to learn about other product lines that the foreign firm represents

Once your company has pre-qualified some foreign representatives,

you may travel to the foreign country to observe the size,

and location of offices and warehouses

In addition,

you should meet the sales force and try to assess its strength in the marketplace

If traveling to each distributor or representative is difficult,

you should plan on meeting each of them at trade shows in the U

Negotiation and Agreements with Foreign Representatives After your company has found a prospective representative that meets its requirements,

the next step is to negotiate a foreign sales agreement

The agreement may contain provisions such as The foreign representative: •

Not have business dealings with competing firms (because of anti-trust laws,

this provision may cause problems in some European countries)

Not reveal any confidential information in a way that would prove injurious,

Not enter into agreements binding to the U

Refer all inquiries received from outside the designated sales territory to the U

To ensure a conscientious sales effort from the foreign representative,

the agreement should include a requirement that it apply the utmost skill and ability to the sale of the product for the compensation named in the contract

It may be appropriate to include performance requirements such as a minimum sales volume and an expected rate of increase

In the drafting of the agreement,

special attention must be paid to safeguarding the supplier's interests (you,

the exporter) in cases where the representative proves less than satisfactory

It is vital to include an escape clause in the agreement,

allowing the supplier to end the relationship safely and cleanly if the representative does not fulfill the firm's expectations

Some contracts specify that either party may terminate the agreement with written notice 30,

The contract may also spell out exactly what constitutes just cause for ending the agreement (i

failure to meet specified performance levels)

Other contracts specify a certain term for the agreement (usually one year),

but arrange for automatic annual renewal unless either party gives written notice of its intention not to renew

In all cases,

escape clauses and other provisions to safeguard the supplier may be limited by the laws of the country in which the representative is located

For this reason,

you should learn as much as it can about the legal requirements of the representative's country and obtain qualified legal counsel in preparing the contract

Approaching International trade consultants and advisors When you work towards building a network in place to set up an import-export unit,

you must explore and establish as many methods and channels

Besides finding foreign representatives and entering into formal negotiation and agreement with them,

you can also approach international trade consultants and advisors

The international trade consultants and advisors can be the best source to establish networks as they know the market thoroughly and their knowledge can be of immense use to a newentrant in the market

Shortlist a couple of reputed international trade consultants and advisors,

meet up with them and tell them about the kind of import-export you want to get into,

the products you want to deal with and the countries you plan on targeting

It would be better if you chose trade consultants or advisors who have specific hold over the business know-how in the country you are interested in

Ask them how they can be of value in facilitating the work and if they

International trade consultants and advisors will charge you a fee and will help you by advising you about whether importing/exporting a particular product in a particular country would be a profitable venture or not

They can also help by throwing open the business options of a country to you enabling you to make a better decision about the kind of products you would import/export to a particular country

With a foreign representative to work on the ground for you,

and an international trade consultant or advisor to advise,

there are greater chances of you making the right decisions and executing them perfectly

There are a number of avenues you may avail for better managing your business

we look at the most critical aspect of an Import/Export business

Legal Issues

has been made relatively easy by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Export Administration (BXA),

especially in terms of the legal barriers

Road blocks have been removed by the department by implementing numerous export control liberalizations

Here are some legal issues to consider

License requirements for export products are linked to its technical characteristics,

Newly drafted regulations make it easy for determining whether you require a licence for exporting your product(s)

The exporter-friendly regulations as specified by the BXA include answers to frequently asked queries along with a detailed guide to finding out if your type of export goods is subject to regulations and also how to apply for a license

Given below is an overview of most of these regulations,

and their implications to trade

Export Regulations The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) regulate export and re-export of items for a number of reasons namely,


only a relatively small percentage of exports and re-exports require the submission of a license application to BXA

Under the EAR the treatment differs from country to country because different countries present different national security,

or foreign policy considerations for the United States

the EAR covers more than exports


items subject to the EAR are controlled for re-export from one foreign country to another

Many items may require a license only to a limited number of countries

Other transactions

may be covered by one or more License Exceptions in the EAR,


a license is required for virtually all exports to embargoed destinations such as Cuba

Part 746 of the EAR describes embargoed destinations and refers to certain additional controls imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls of the Treasury Department

At times,

EAR are referred to as “dual use” regulations — something that can be used for both military and other strategic uses and commercial applications

It’s also used to distinguish the scope of the EAR from items covered by the regulations of other agencies

General Prohibitions The general prohibitions describe certain exports,

subject to the scope of the EAR,

wherein you may not engage unless you have a license from BXA or qualify under part 740 of the EAR for a license exception from each applicable general prohibition paragraph

License Exceptions License exception is an authorization for the export or re-export of some commodities,

or software under certain conditions

This authorizes you to ship certain items subject to the EAR that would otherwise require a license

Eligibility for license exceptions depends on issues like items to be exported or re-exported,

the country of ultimate destination,

Applying for a License and Application Processing If an export license is required,

you must prepare a Form BXA-748P,

“Mulipurpose Application Form,” and submit it to BXA

Forms can be obtained by sending requests on fax 202-219-9179 or by phone on 202-482-3332

A complete analysis of license application along with all documentation submitted in support

of the application will be conducted by BXA in reviewing specific license applications

BXA will consider the reliability of each party to the transaction and review any available intelligence information

The BXA can be contacted for knowing status of your pending certification request,

For advisory opinion requests,

telephone 202-482-4905 or send a fax to 202-219-9179

For license applications and classification requests,

telephone BXA's System for Tracking Export License Applications (STELA) at 202-482-2752

STELA is an automated voice response system that,

upon request via any standard touch-tone telephone,

will provide you with up-to-the-minute status on any license application pending at BXA

Requests for status may be made only by the applicant or the applicant's agent

In an emergency,

the Department of Commerce may consider expediting the processing of an export license application,

but this procedure cannot be used as a substitute for filing of an application

If you feel you qualify for emergency handling,

you should contact the Exporter Counseling Division at 202-482-4811 or by mail to the: U

Department of Commerce Bureau of Export Administration Office of Exporter Services Exporter Counseling Division 14th Street and Constitution Avenue,

Room 2706 Washington,

Export Clearance If you are issued a BXA license,

or you rely on a license exception described in part 740 of the EAR,

you are responsible for the proper use of that license (or license exception) and for the performance of all its terms and conditions

Import Regulations It is important for exporters to know the regulations that apply to their own operations and transactions as import documentation requirements and other regulations of foreign governments differ from country to country

A detailed explanation of the Import Regulations may be obtained by contacting the BXA

Drawback of Customs Duties Drawback (not to be confused with drawbacks or disadvantages of Customs Duties) is meant to enable a manufacturer (or exporter) to compete in foreign markets

Prior to making contractual commitments you must know that you will be entitled to drawback on your exports

The procedure has been designed assure the exporter and protect him/her

Simply put,

if you do not get paid for your exports,

you may avail compensation by applying for a Drawback

Drawback was initially authorized by the first tariff act of the United States in 1789 to encourage American commerce or manufacturers to compete in foreign markets

Despite changes from time to time in the conditions under which it is payable,

There are several types of drawback authorized under section 1313,

Title 19,

United States Code

Given below is a list of processes associated with claiming a drawback

Getting a drawback If you want to get a drawback,

prepare a drawback proposal (statement) and submit it before a Regional Commissioner of Customs for section 1313 (a) drawback and with the Entry Rulings Branch,

Customs headquarters,

including combination 1313(a) and (b) drawback

At present,

there are several general drawback contracts — published in the Customs Bulletin and Decisions — like orange juice,

available that eliminate any need for submitting a proposal

An ordinary model drawback proposal may be obtained from regional commissioners for section 1313(a) drawback

For other types of drawback you can write to: U

Customs Service,

Entry Rulings Branch,

Franklin Court,





The approval Before you start Exporting/Importing,

you need to file an application of Approval with the U


There are two kinds of Approval

Approval of section 1313(a) proposal is a letter from a Regional Commissioner of Customs to the applicant (you),

approval of a section 1313(b) drawback proposal is a letter from U

Customs Service headquarters to the Regional Commissioner of Customs where you will file claims

You receive a copy of this letter

Synopses of all contracts are published in the Customs Bulletin and Decisions

The proposal and approval together are called a drawback contract or drawback rate

In case you desire to have your contract (rate) changed in any way,

you have to file a new proposal (statement)


Export Procedure A drawback claimant has to establish one thing: The articles on which the drawback is being claimed were exported within five years after importation of the imported merchandise,

which is the basis for the drawback

The Payment After filing all required documents,

the entry will be liquidated by the Regional Commissioner of Customs to decide on the amount of drawback due

Drawback can be paid to you

unless the manufacturer of the product reserves to itself the right to claim the drawback

Accelerated Payment Under certain conditions accelerated payment of drawback is authorized

Accelerated payments ensure that you receive your drawback no later than two months after filing the claim

Accelerated drawback currently applies to same condition drawback

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has been incorporated by the U

Government to stem any unlawful practices in foreign trade

Here is a brief description of this act in laymen terms

The law prohibits a U

firm — this includes any officer,

or agent of a firm or any stockholder acting on behalf of the firm — from offering,

or promising to pay (or to allow any such promise or payment) money or anything valuable to any foreign official (or foreign political party or candidate for foreign political office) to get or retain business

It is against the law to pay any person while knowing that all (or a portion of) the payment will be offered,

or promised — directly or indirectly — to any foreign official,

foreign political party or candidate for foreign political office,

to assist the firm in getting or retaining business

The term “knowing” here,

also means “conscious disregard” and “willful blindness

There’s an exception to the anti-bribery provisions for “facilitating payments for routine governmental action

” The statute lists a number of examples and actions similar to those listed are also covered by this exception

A person accused of violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) may defend his/her case on the grounds that the payment was legal as per the laws and regulations of the foreign country

He/she may also argue that the payment was associated with demonstrating a product or performing a contractual obligation

As per the rulebook,

firms may be fined up to $ 2 million


agents and stockholders are subject to a fine of up to $ 100,000 and five years’ imprisonment

The Attorney General is authorised to initiate a civil action against a domestic concern (and the Securities and Exchange Commission against an issuer) for a fine of up to $ 10,000 as well as any officer,

or stockholder acting on behalf of the firm,

who deliberately breaks the anti-bribery provisions

As per other federal criminal laws individuals may be fined up to $ 250,000 or double the amount of gross gain or gross loss if the defendant derives pecuniary gain from the wrongdoing or causes a pecuniary loss to other

The Attorney General may also initiate civil action to enjoin any act or practice of a domestic concern (and the SEC with respect to an issuer) whenever it seems the domestic concern or issuer (or an officer,

or stockholder acting on behalf of the domestic concern or issuer) is in violation (or about to be) of the anti-bribery provisions

Violation of the FCPA may result in barring a firm or person from doing business with the federal government

indictment alone can invite suspension of the right to business with the U


Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Opinion Procedure was established by Department of Justice — the details are found at 28 CFR Part 77

As per the procedure,

a party may seek a statement of Justice Department’s present enforcement intentions under the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA as far as any proposed business conduct is concerned

For any further queries,

you can contact: Deputy Chief,

Fraud Section,

Criminal Division,

Department of Justice,

Room 2424,

Bond Building,


Besides this,

the Department of Commerce gives general information to U

exporters about the FCPA and international developments related to the FCPA and international bribery

For further information from the Department of Commerce about the FCPA,

you may get in touch with: Chief Counsel for International Commerce or the Senior Counsel for International Finance and Trade,

Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce,

Department of Commerce,

Room 5882,


Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency Requirements (FDA-EPA) In case,

you plan on importing/exporting food products (or drugs),

you must ensure conformation to guidelines and rules set by the FDA and EPA

Here’s an explanation of some of the relevant rules

The Food and Drug Administration enforces U

laws meant to ensure that consumer gets pure food and that drugs,

devices and cosmetics are safe and effective

FDA has promulgated a lot of regula