For U.S. companies trading globally, these are uncertain times. Whether you’re a large exporter, a mid-sized manufacturer, or a growing e-commerce venture that’s quickly building cross-border success, you know the tremendous benefits that international commerce brings to the table—and to your bottom line. But you have also witnessed social, political and economic shifts that can complicate even the best-laid plans. Significant policy changes, new regulations, and the continuous negotiation and re-negotiation of trade deals all create questions, complexity, and a certain degree of unpredictability in the global trade equation.
What are the biggest issues impacting global trade today, and what do you need to know about them? We go into depth in our recent webinar where we cover tariffs, U.S.-China trade war, Brexit, USMCA, new market opportunities and more, and below, we’ve outlined some key takeaways and additional insights on the topics discussed.
Partnerships are Key
Especially during these times of international changes, it’s important to work closely with your partners like suppliers, Customs brokers, transportation providers (like DHL) to make sure you’re developing the best risk mitigation strategy. You and all your partners should be aligned with your strategies and they will be able to help guide you throughout.
Invest in Relationships
Leveraging relationships with your local Chambers of Commerce, Export Councils, existing long-term customers and regulatory authorities will not only help you survive in the short-term during these uncertain times but can position you for long-term success. For example, by participating in your local District Export Council (usaexporter.org), you can connect with similar exporting companies in your regions and learn about best practices and new trade trends. And by meeting with your Port’s officials and Customs agents, you can get information on additional exporting trends.
Additionally, by creating relationships beyond typical first-tier partners like suppliers and distributors overseas, you can cultivate a group of amplifiers and validators for your company. It is critical in this time of risk and vulnerability to have a group of ambassadors that know your company well, especially in markets that can present social-economic and political challenges, so that they can help translate (literally and figurately) messages across to regulators, consumers, potential critics, etc.
Take the Driver Seat
Despite global economic issues that you likely do not have direct control over, you can have a hand in controlling your company’s destiny by developing counter-crises strategies for your business. Understand where the likely vulnerabilities are in your business—what if your sector becomes a topic of a political debate? Build the right infrastructure and countermeasures so that if issues do arise you can seize the opportunity to educate markets and react in a smart, strategic way. Use these obstacles as an opportunity for your company to reinforce the value of your product or services. Start conversations about the importance, long-term, of consistency and quality, tell your story, get out and engage amidst adversity. These types of counter-crises strategies can help companies not just survive during times of turbulence but emerge in a stronger position with reinforced relationships and an elevated brand. This is especially true with small and medium-sized businesses; the ones are willing to get our and engage in a savvy and prepared way are the ones that will succeed during these times.
While the current economic climate will likely cause short-term disruption, don’t loose sight of your businesses’ long-term objectives. Don’t overreact to trade issues and swiftly change your strategies completely as it could impact your business in the long-term. We will get past these erratic times, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the future.