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Tips for International Expansion

Expanding your business to another country can help you open up new markets and develop country-specific products, but doing business in foreign markets is not easy.  NPES is here to help you make this transition as smooth as possible.  When you do business overseas, you will need to consider a mix of business and cultural mandates of each country, and also ensure you obey both local and international laws. Below are some tips:

Study the Market
Many American companies have been disappointed to find that their product that is a great success in the U.S. is not successful in other markets. Before you invest money, do market research to determine if your product is a good fit – conduct market specific research with the NPES/PRIMIR “World Wide Market for Print” by the Economic Intelligence Unit and its country-specific studies, the U.S. Commercial Service Research Library, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative country reports.

Know the Culture
Although it is generally accepted that the increase in travel and technology has led to a blurring of some distinctions of culture, there are still clearly definable differences in culture between different countries and ethnic groups.  Cultural differences arise in many areas, such as food, customs, language and entertainment. It is important to understand that culture impacts the ways in which people work and behave and learning some basics of the language and business traditions can be beneficial.

Choose the Right Strategic Partner
Know your goals for strategic business relationships and conduct serious interviewing before choosing an international partner.  Effective relationships are critical in setting the framework for hiring or entering into contracts. Be sure, prospective partners speak the local language and reside, or know intimately, the region and country in which you seek to market products.

There are different websites and sources to do a background search on a potential or existing business partner. Here are a few sources:

Exporting and Tariffs
An export tariff is a tax placed on a good that is exported from a country. Governments use tariffs to create economic barriers to trade. Tariffs raise the overall prices of goods, limiting their production and sale. An export tariff specifically increases the cost to sell domestic goods overseas.

In order for you to find out the tariffs in the country you are looking to export to, you need to go to Schedule B- Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States. A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the United States to classify physical goods for export to another country. The Schedule B is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of 6-digit commodity classification codes. Schedule B numbers are required to be reported in the Automated Export System (AES) when shipments are valued over $2,500 or the item requires a license.
Follow this link to determine your Schedule B number and the tariff in the specific country you are interested in.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) also has some excellent information on tariffs for specific countries.

Get Legal Help
International law is highly complex, and laws regarding trade, taxes, currency conversion and contracts vary from market to market. Certain types of distributorship arrangements may be hard to set up in a particular country.  Ensure that you are following all of the necessary regulations for imports and exports. You may also need help, to navigate local filing and paperwork requirements. Make sure you fill out the correct paperwork if you are filing for a patent, trade mark or copyright protection.
For more information, visit The Patent Cooperation Treaty and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

To make your international expansion and business meetings even more productive check out these websites for additional information:

Information from the World Bank Group

Export-Import Bank of the United States

The U.S. Small Business Administration