Laws, marketing, human resources, customs… commercializing products or services abroad should be part of a structured and well-reasoned strategy, failing which your project will inevitably collapse!In this article, Upela is aiming at giving you an in-depth insight into some key rules you should always keep in mind. This article will become available for download in PDF format.
Rely on a commercial agent
Entering a new market is always full of uncertainties. For this reason, relying on a commercial agent may be a good option to consider. You can penetrate a new market without possessing any structure locally. The agent will explore new commercial opportunities on your behalf, thereby generating sales and providing you with new leads. The golden rule here is to set up a Commercial agency contract (also known as Agency contract). This agreement will be different if the agent is working within the European Union or not.
Inside the EU: A 1986 EU directive provides a common framework for all Members States regarding the Agency contract regulation. It defines the commercial agent as « a self-employed intermediary who has continuing authority to negotiate the sale or the purchase of goods on behalf of another person, [...] called the ‘principal’, or to negotiate and conclude such transactions on behalf of and in the name of that principal ». Other articles harmonize and clarify certain aspects of the contract which were subject to considerable disparities prior to the directive.
Outside the EU: Regulations vary according to countries only, there is no existing international law. The nationality of your commercial agent will be the prime factor. It can be particularly interesting to hire an agent in his country of birth, especially because some countries do not authorize foreign commercial agents to work within their borders (i.e. Middle East). Generally, the law applicable to agency contracts is the current law in the territory in which the agent is working. A number of compulsory statements must be included in the contract which may even be registered. The best way to establish a specific contract is to contact the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) or a specialist lawyer.
Prior to thinking about importing or exporting goods, must make sure they can actually cross the border. Some commodities (weapons, batteries, household appliances, ...) are subject to a compulsory export licence and some countries to an embargo (Syria, North Korea...), and therefore cannot receive or ship good from their territory.A comprehensive list of restricted or prohibited goods is available here. Besides, each country sheet details the products that cannot be imported. Go to the related country sheet to make sure you are allowed to ship your product!
Distance Selling via the Internet
Marketing shouldn't be pushed into the background of your international business plan.