Before you sign a contract to ship industrial equipment to or from an unfamiliar international market, consider the legal, language, cultural and political barriers, as well as the state of the county’s infrastructure and ethical standards.  Anyone of those can make completion of a profitable deal more challenging than expected.

Here’s what exporters report about the unpredictability of doing business in some fast-growing developing markets:

  • There may be no defined procedure that outlines what products or equipment need to be reviewed by which government agency.
  • Sometimes, rules are not uniformly followed by customs officials.
  • Goods are regularly detained in ports without explanation.
  • There are impromptu strikes by customs officials.
  • There is limited air capacity for freight.
  • The bureaucracy can hold up a shipment for weeks.
  • There may be rampant corruption.
  • Taxation can be unpredictable.
  • The local labor force may consist of unskilled or underage workers whose treatment will reflect on your business

“We’ve learned that unless you have a strong in-country team that can anticipate trouble and steer around it, your business experience in some countries is likely to go bad,” says Neil Clavano, International Operations Specialist at ICAT Logistics Detroit.

Simple details can go overlooked as they were recently by a company that wanted to import work gloves from China, says Clavano.  The Chinese manufacturer could make them for much less than anywhere else.  “Our client was ready to sign until we did some research and found that there is an embargo on shipping work gloves from China — an important fact the manufacturer neglected to mention.”

Clavano says that Brazil and India currently have reputations for having convoluted and, at times, corrupt policies for handling freight into and out of the country.

“We have knowledgeable partners in both of those countries.  In fact, we have them all over the globe,” he says.  In Brazil, for example, ICAT’s partner used to work for Brazil customs and can anticipate and find solutions for any challenge that may arise.

“We’re not only doing our homework, anticipating every possible hitch, we’re on the ground building relationships so that we’re able to avoid delays, unanticipated expenses and frustration.”

Information is power in the freight and logistics business.

“We work every shipment as a team,” says Clavano.  “It’s an advantage that is hard to beat.”

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