Step One: THE PLAN
The first step when importing is to determine why you are importing. Ask yourself the following three questions:
- Is the product(s) you need to conduct your business available domestically?
- Have you discovered a lucrative and untapped domestic market for an imported product?
- Does importing a product increase your competitiveness as a business?
Once you have determined that importing certain goods can benefit your business, the next process in Step One is to develop a thorough business plan.
When building your business plan determine the domestic target market, evaluate government regulations and pay attention to the nature of the product to determine the proper Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) product classification.
The HTS compiled by the US Government will better enable you to understand applied tariffs assessed to your merchandise. Most tariffs applied to merchandise are ad valoreom, which equates to a certain percentage of duty on the invoiced cost of your imported product.
For comprehensive HTT tariff access FedEx.com, and sign up for the Global Trade Manager. In the business plan process you need to determine if the government of the imported product has any imposed quota restrictions to protect various domestic industries, or there might be restrictions because the product may be harmful to human, animal or plant health. Without properly researching this information you may be stuck with boxes of un-sellable merchandise at Customs.
To further your research, the US Census Bureau of Foreign Trade Statistics at www.census.gov , The US Chamber of Commerce at www.uschamber.org and the Library of congress (www.loc.gov) offer in depth business and demographic research and business reference links for your country of interest.
The following list of websites will be helpful in the business planning process.
Market Research Reference Tools : Foreign Trade Online and World Trade Magazine Online are informational resources for conducting market research on specific industry related, trade leads and topics. It can act as a helpful tool for identifying competitors both national and international. You can access this information through www.foreign-trade.com
World Trade Magazine Online is an good resource for current global trade information www.worldtrademag.com For specific written materials on importing and exporting, the Department of Commerce Business and International Trade Bookstore can be a great resource and can be accessed at http://trade.gov/publications
The Electronic Embassy website, www.embassy.org is helpful is routing you to international embassies, detailed information on Washington D.C. logistics and other useful information.