International Trade – Three Simple Messages
As a firm we had no real choice but to expand internationally as we had to respond to the needs of our clients, who required legal support over the different jurisdictions in which they did business. An easy evolution for us; expand or not meet the needs of our clients.
The need to trade internationally is not so clear cut for many businesses, particularly where those businesses are strong in their own domestic markets. The progression to international trade is often tempered with the worry of the unknown and potential complexities of accessing those new markets.
As a general experience of so many who have taken the step to expand internationally, there are three simple messages:
Know what you want to achieve - be clear about the objectives of trading internationally, which allows clarity on the appropriate target market and the steps that need to be taken to access that market. Taking the first steps to international trade does not have to require significant investment - establishing the model and testing the relevant market can often be achieved on a trial basis to see if success is likely;
Look for examples of others who have successfully expanded internationally - you do not always have to break new ground and there are often similar cases of competitors or businesses which have already expanded internationally. If has worked for other businesses, look for reasons why it would not work for your business; and
Seek help where you can - help is available and often easily accessible and free. It is best to get as much of a background knowledge as possible before incurring material costs and there are many guides available to assist in this regard.
In terms of help, the following are some of the obvious:
· international law firms and accountants, along with global banks, are well connected and experienced in providing know how, and contacts and are more than familiar with supporting businesses through the initial thought processes and business cases to make the first steps to international trade; and
· organisations such as the UKTI, chambers of commerce and local authorities are often only to keen to provide businesses support to establish trade links outside of their domestic markets, and often will have contacts in trade associations in the target market.
As you would expect there is much provided on the internet by these organisations (see for example the link to our firm's Going Global publication series https://www.dlapiper.com/en/uk/insights/publicationseries/guide-to-going-global-series/).
Sandra Wallace is UK Managing Partner and practicing international employment lawyer at DLA Piper UK LLP
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