Tools of Trade
March 27, 2017 7:11 PM
As companies, especially SMEs, begin their international trade journey, they are frequently challenged to find information and utilize tools that will help them achieve their import/export goals. The biggest challenges include understanding which sources can be trusted, how to find them, and the time it takes bounce from site-to-site and collect meaningful information. Here are a few of WebPort Global’s favorite resources to help you along the way.
Export.gov is the flagship international trade website for the U.S. Government. While created for Americans, anyone can go there and access reports, trade tools and other resources. The site itself lacks personality, doesn’t feature much in the way of timely news, and navigating can be frustrating. But there’s no quibbling when it comes to the value of information compiled there. Agencies from other governments also publish helpful information.
We like the Country Commercial Guides, 100-page plus reports on more than 100 country markets compiled by industry experts and commercial diplomats who are on the ground. The reports are more easily searchable by section, meaning you don’t have to read the whole document if what you want is the section on best prospects for U.S. exporters. These are rather general—auto parts, medical devices, etc. If you want more granular insights, such as the kinds of auto parts and medical devices, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
That place might be—of all places—the U.S. Census Bureau, which compiles information on the number of people living in each U.S. household. Census also collects information on what the U.S. exports to other countries, which can help you do a deeper dive into the kinds of auto parts and medical equipment a given market is buying from U.S. suppliers. It does not drill down to the level of a specific product, such as devices for conducting colonoscopies.
You can compare by year to get a better feel of the volume of specific products exported to specific countries over time. The average price is also provided to help you understand whether you can meet or beat that price, or whether your costs need to better controlled in order to compete.
The system also provides U.S. import data, so if you want to sell products to U.S. buyers you can research what volume of similar products and at what average price have been sold in past years.
Find the full landed cost
Since you need to know your HS or Harmonized Code number in order to ship your products to other countries, we like the tool that lets you find this number. Once found, you can use it to find the estimated duty and tax rate for the target country. You’ll recall from earlier blogs that each HS code has a different duty and tax rate, depending on the country of destination. Many countries add a VAT (Value Added Tax) that in the EU, for example, tops 20 percent of the value of the item sold. Duties average around 6 percent of value, but can be higher depending on the county. You can take this information and put it on your website to help buyers from country X understand the real cost of the item purchased, rather than just the item’s price that you post.
Most business buyers will know to calculate the full landed cost, but many consumers won’t have a clue, and may abandon the shopping cart or return the purchase (at your expense). You want to avoid both of those actions by providing all the information on the final cost to the buyer.
Another useful tool is a section on export.gov devoted to e-commerce. This is an area of the site that does feature frequent updates, which is desirable in this dynamic sector where the pace of change is dizzying. You’ll find there an e-commerce guide for small business, primarily retailers, but muck of the advice is relevant to companies looking for distributors who can purchase much larger quantities. There’s a section on e-commerce activity and trends in a number of important or growing markets. The level of e-commerce activity in these analyses is enough to get the heart rate up. This book is not available for sale, but you get it here for free and can easily print off the chapters of greatest interest, and there probably will be many.
You don’t need expensive consultants to do help get you and your team up to speed on how to grow your international business. Even better, the WebPort Global toolbox includes all of these resources and many more from agencies, organizations and partners, organized in a way to effectively help you as part of your WebPort Global membership. Save time, get answers and use trusted resources.
Join WebPort Global.
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