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Global Business Assignment!

Homework is due by tomorrow, December 25th @ 8:00 pm New york time. It is one paper and answer to journal question (not exceeding 100 words for journal answer)


Based on reading of the Greenfield Venture or Acquisition Section on chapter 13 and 14 attached,  on pages 434-438, your Assignment is to address the following in your paper




  1. Discuss the pros of both options (acquisitions versus Greenfield ventures) for Zip-6
  2. Discuss the cons of both options (acquisitions versus Greenfield ventures) for Zip-6
  3. State your choice of options to pursue and your reasons for this choice.

This is the link to initial scenario:


Respond in a minimum of one page in APA format to this Assignment.



Journal question

Perhaps the most significant import into the United States is oil! This Journal Activity asks you to examine the following government energy site:


Go to website of The U.S. Energy Information Administration, then go to the “Sources & Uses” at the top of the website, select “Petroleum”, then scroll down to the “Energy in brief articles” on the left hand bar and choose the article, “How dependent are we on foreign oil?”

After reading this information and the “Learn More” links at the bottom of the web article, journal your thoughts and impressions in 100 words.





After you have read this chapter you should be able to:

1 Explain the promises and risks associated with exporting.

2 Identify the steps managers can take to improve their firm’s export performance. 3 Identify information sources and government programs that exist to help exporters. 4 Recognize the basic steps involved in export financing.

5 Describe how countertrade can be used to facilitate exporting. LE A








part 5 Competing in a Global Marketplace

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opening case

V ellus Products was founded in 1991 in Columbus, Ohio, by Sharon Doherty to sell shampoo for pets. Doherty’s original insight was that shampoos for people don’t work well on pets because the skin of most animals is more sensitive than that of humans and becomes easily irritated. Because of her experience showing dogs, she knew that most existing pet shampoo left dog hair unmanageable and lacking the glamour needed for a dog show. Working with her nephew, who had a Ph.D. in chemistry, Doherty developed salon-type formulas specially suited to dogs (shampoo for horses was added later). Doherty booked Vellus’s first export sales in 1993 when a Taiwanese businessman, who had bought the shampoo in the United States, ordered $25,000 worth of product, which he wanted to sell at dog shows in Taiwan. Before long, Doherty was getting calls from people around the world, most of whom heard about Vellus’s products in dog shows, and a thriving export busi- ness was born. As the volume of inquiries built up, Doherty realized she needed to gain a better under- standing of foreign markets, export potential, and financing options, so she contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service offices in Columbus. “As business has grown, I have gone from ordering country profiles to requesting customized exporting and financing strategies tailored to maximize export potential,” she says. Today Vellus exports to 28 nations, although the bulk of the firm’s international business operates through distributors in Sweden, Finland, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Iceland, where the products are marketed at pet shows and exhibitions. The company has registered its trademark in 15 European countries, and international sales account for more than half the firm’s total. “I credit the Commercial Service for helping me to expand my exports, as it would have been much more difficult on my own,” Doherty says.

Vellus Products

Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade

13 c h a p t e r

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444 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

Reflecting on her international success, Doherty has some advice for others who might want to go down the same road. First, she says, know whom you are dealing with. Relationships are important to successful exporting. Doherty says she gives advice and guidance to her distributors, sharing her knowledge and helping them to be successful. Second, having being duped by a man who falsely claimed he knew the pet market, she advocates doing background checks on potential business partners. “Gather as much information as you can,” she says. “Don’t make any assumptions; the wrong choice can cost your business valuable time and money.” Third, Doherty believes it is important to learn the local culture. Vellus products are adapted to best suit different groom- ing techniques in different countries, something she believes has helped to make the company more successful. Finally, Doherty says, enjoy the ride! “I love exporting because it has enabled me to meet so many people from other cultures. Exporting has made me more broad-minded, and I have developed a great appreciation for other cultures and the way others live their lives.” • Sources: U.S. Department of Commerce Web site, “Vellus Products Inc.,”, accessed March 16, 2010; C. K. Cultice, “Best in Show: Vellus Products,” World Trade , January 2007, pp. 70–73; and C. K. Cultice, “Lathering up World Markets,” Business America , July 1997, p. 33.

Introduction In the previous chapter, we reviewed exporting from a strategic perspective. We consid- ered exporting as just one of a range of strategic options for profiting from international expansion. This chapter is more concerned with the nuts and bolts of exporting (and importing). Here we look at how to export. As the opening case makes clear, exporting is not just for large enterprises; many small entrepreneurial firms such as Vellus Products have benefited significantly from the money-making opportunities of exporting.

The volume of export activity in the world economy has increased as exporting has become easier. The gradual decline in trade barriers under the umbrella of GATT and now the WTO (see Chapter 6) along with regional economic agree- ments such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (see Chapter 8) have significantly increased export opportunities. At the same time, modern communication and transportation technologies have alleviated the lo- gistical problems associated with exporting. Firms are increasingly using the World Wide Web, toll- free phone numbers, and international air express services to reduce the costs of exporting. Conse- quently, it is no longer unusual to find small com- panies that are thriving as exporters.

Another Per spect i ve

Autarky: Not in the Vocabulary of Globalization! The word autarky refers to the belief that a country should be self-sufficient and avoid trade with other nations. Most econ- omists regard autarky as an idealistic, but impractical, goal. Throughout history, countries have tried to achieve autarky, but soon discovered they could not produce the wide range of goods their population wants and make those goods avail- able at competitive prices. In fact, those countries found themselves worse off economically than nations that engage in international trade. Word to the wise: Unless your country can efficiently produce everything it needs, it needs to trade. (“Economics A-Z,”

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 445

Nevertheless, exporting remains a challenge for many firms. Smaller enterprises can find the process intimidating. The firm wishing to export must identify foreign market opportunities, avoid a host of unanticipated problems that are often associated with doing business in a foreign market, familiarize itself with the mechanics of export and import financing, learn where to find financing and export credit insurance, and learn how it should deal with foreign exchange risk. The process can be made more problematic by currencies that are not freely convertible. Arranging payment for ex- ports to countries with weak currencies can be a problem. This brings us to the topic of countertrade, by which payment for exports is received in goods and services rather than money. In this chapter, we will discuss all these issues with the exception of for- eign exchange risk, which was covered in Chapter 10. We open the chapter by consid- ering the promise and pitfalls of exporting.

The Promise and Pitfalls of Exporting The great promise of exporting is that large revenue and profit opportunities are to be found in foreign markets for most firms in most industries. This was true for the com- pany profiled in the opening case. The international market is normally so much larger than the firm’s domestic market that exporting is nearly always a way to increase the company’s revenue and profit base. By expanding the size of the market, exporting can enable a firm to achieve economies of scale, thereby lowering its unit costs. Firms that do not export often lose out on significant opportunities for growth and cost reduction. 1 Studies have shown that while many large firms tend to be proactive about seeking opportunities for profitable exporting, systematically scanning foreign markets to find ways to leverage their technology, products, and marketing skills in foreign countries, many medium-sized and small firms are very reactive. 2 Typically, such reactive firms do not even consider exporting until their domestic market is saturated and the emergence of excess productive capacity at home forces them to look for growth opportunities in foreign markets. Also, many small and medium-sized firms tend to wait for the world to come to them, rather than going out into the world to seek opportunities. Even when the world does come to them, they may not respond. An example is MMO Music Group, which makes sing-along tapes for karaoke machines. Foreign sales accounted for about 15 percent of MMO’s revenues of $8 million, but the firm’s CEO admits that this figure would probably have been much higher had he paid attention to building international sales. Unanswered faxes and phone messages from Asia and Europe often piled up while he was trying to manage the burgeoning domestic side of the business. By the time MMO did turn its attention to foreign markets, other competitors had stepped into the breach and MMO found it tough going to build export volume. 3 MMO’s experience is common, and it suggests a need for firms to become more proactive about seeking export opportunities. One reason more firms are not proac- tive is that they are unfamiliar with foreign market opportunities; they simply do not know how big the opportunities actually are or where they might lie. Simple igno- rance of the potential opportunities is a huge barrier to exporting. 4 Also, many would- be exporters, particularly smaller firms, are often intimidated by the complexities and mechanics of exporting to countries where business practices, language, culture, legal systems, and currency are very different from the home market. 5 This combination of unfamiliarity and intimidation probably explains why exporters still account for only a tiny percentage of U.S. firms, less than 5 percent of firms with fewer than 500 employees, according to the Small Business Administration. 6 To make matters worse, many neophyte exporters run into significant problems when first trying to do business abroad, and this sours them on future exporting ventures. Common pitfalls include poor market analysis, a poor understanding of competitive

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 1 Explain the promises and

risks associated with exporting.

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446 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

conditions in the foreign market, a failure to customize the product offering to the needs of foreign customers, lack of an effective distribution program, a poorly executed pro- motional campaign, and problems securing financing. 7 Novice exporters tend to under- estimate the time and expertise needed to cultivate business in foreign countries. 8 Few realize the amount of management resources that have to be dedicated to this activity. Many foreign customers require face-to-face negotiations on their home turf. An ex- porter may have to spend months learning about a country’s trade regulations, business practices, and more before a deal can be closed. The accompanying Management Focus, which documents the experience of FCX Systems in China, suggests that it may take years before foreigners are comfortable enough to purchase in significant quantities. Exporters often face voluminous paperwork, complex formalities, and many poten- tial delays and errors. According to a UN report on trade and development, a typical international trade transaction may involve 30 parties, 60 original documents, and

Management FOCUS

FCX Systems’ Success Story

Founded with the help of a $20,000 loan from the Small Business Administration, FCX Systems is an exporting success story. FCX makes power converters for the aero- space industry. These devices convert common electric utility frequencies into the higher frequencies used in air- craft systems and are primarily used to provide power to aircraft while they are on the ground. Today the West Virginia enterprise generates over half of its $20 million in annual sales from exports to more than 50 countries. FCX’s prowess in opening foreign markets has earned the company several awards for export excellence, including a presidential award for achieving extraordinary growth in export sales. FCX initially got into exporting because it found that for- eigners were often more receptive to the company’s prod- ucts than potential American customers. According to Don Gallion, president of FCX, “In the overseas market, they were looking for a good technical product, preferably made in the U.S., but they weren’t asking questions about ‘How long have you been in business? Are you still going to be here tomorrow?’ They were just anxious to get the product.” In 1989, soon after FCX’s founding, the company signed on with an international distribution company to help with exporting, but Gallion became disillusioned with that com- pany, and in 1994 FCX started to handle the exporting pro- cess on its own. At the time, exports represented 12 percent of sales, but by 1997 they had jumped to more than 50 percent of the total, where they have stayed since. In explaining the company’s export success, Gallion cites a number of factors. One was the extensive assistance that FCX has received over the years from a number of federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Development Office of West Virginia.

These agencies demystified the process of exporting and provided good contacts for FCX. Finding a good local repre- sentative to help work through local regulations and cus- toms is another critical factor, according to Gallion, who says, “A good rep will keep you out of trouble when it comes to customs and what you should and shouldn’t do.” Persis- tence is also very important, says Gallion, particularly when trying to break into markets where personal relationships are crucial, such as China. China has been an interesting story for FCX. Recently the company has been booking $2 million to $3 million in sales to China, but it took years to get to this point. China had been on Gallion’s radar screen since the early 1990s, pri- marily because of the country’s rapid modernization and its plans to build or remodel some 179 airports between 1998 and 2008. This constituted a potentially large market for FCX, particularly compared with the United States where perhaps only three new airports would be built dur- ing the same period. Despite the scale of the opportunity, progress was very slow. The company had to identify airports and airline projects, government agencies, cus- tomers, and decision makers, as well as work through different languages—and make friends. According to Gallion, “Only after they consider you a friend will they buy a product. They believe a friend would never cheat you.” To make friends in China, Gallion estimates he had to make more than 100 trips to China since the early 1990s, but now that the network has been established, it is starting to pay dividends.

Sources: J. Sparshott, “Businesses Must Export to Compete,” The Washington Times, September 1, 2004, p. C8; “Entrepreneur of the Year 2001: Donald Gallion, FCX Systems,” The State Journal, June 18, 2001, p. S10; and T. Pierro, “Exporting Powers Growth of FCX Systems,” The State Journal, April 6, 1998, p. 1.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 447

360 document copies, all of which have to be checked, transmitted, reentered into various information systems, processed, and filed. The United Nations has calculated that the time involved in preparing documentation, along with the costs of common errors in paperwork, often amounts to 10 percent of the final value of goods exported. 9

Improving Export Performance Inexperienced exporters have a number of ways to gain information about foreign mar- ket opportunities and avoid common pitfalls that tend to discourage and frustrate novice exporters. 10 In this section, we look at information sources for exporters to increase their knowledge of foreign market opportunities, we consider the pros and cons of using ex- port management companies (EMCs) to assist in the export process, and we review various exporting strategies that can increase the probability of successful exporting. We begin, however, with a look at how several nations try to help domestic firms export.

AN INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON One big impediment to exporting is the simple lack of knowledge of the opportunities available. Often there are many mar- kets for a firm’s product, but because they are in countries separated from the firm’s home base by culture, language, distance, and time, the firm does not know of them. Identifying export opportunities is made even more complex because more than 200 countries with widely differing cultures compose the world of potential opportunities. Faced with such complexity and diversity, firms sometimes hesitate to seek export opportunities. The way to overcome ignorance is to collect information. In Germany, one of the world’s most successful exporting nations, trade associations, government agencies, and commercial banks gather information, helping small firms identify export opportuni- ties. A similar function is provided by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which is always on the lookout for export opportunities. In addition, many Japanese firms are affiliated in some way with the sogo shosha, Japan’s great trad- ing houses. The sogo shosha have offices all over the world, and they proactively, con- tinuously seek export opportunities for their affiliated companies large and small. 11 German and Japanese firms can draw on the large reservoirs of experience, skills, in- formation, and other resources of their respective export-oriented institutions. Unlike their German and Japanese competitors, many U.S. firms are relatively blind when they seek export opportunities; they are information disadvantaged. In part, this reflects historical differences. Both Germany and Japan have long made their living as trading nations, whereas until recently the United States has been a relatively self-contained conti- nental economy in which international trade played a minor role. This is changing; both imports and exports now play a greater role in the U.S. econ- omy than they did 20 years ago. However, the United States has not yet evolved an institutional structure for promoting exports similar to that of either Germany or Japan.

INFORMATION SOURCES Despite institutional disadvantages, U.S. firms can increase their awareness of export opportunities. The most comprehensive source of information is the U.S. Department of Commerce and its

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 2 Identify the steps managers

can take to improve their firm’s export performance.

Another Per spect i ve

Product Safety: An Exporting Pitfall Manufacturers in China have experienced a string of re- calls from products they exported in recent years. Among the unsafe items were toys containing lead paint; pet food contaminated with melamine; packaged dumplings found to have traces of insecticide; and high levels of toxic cad- mium in children’s jewelry. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development advised homeowners in several states to replace certain types of Chinese-made drywall. Used widely by contractors after hurricanes swept through the South, the drywall has been linked to respiratory and elec- trical problems because of unsafe levels of hydrogen sulfide. (Javier C. Hernandez, “U.S. Urges Homeowners to Remove Chinese Drywall,” The New York Times, April 2, 2010,

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 3 Identify information sources

and government programs that exist to help exporters.

Sogo Shosha Japan’s great trading houses.

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448 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

One of the biggest challenges for U.S. businesses trying to go global is finding the right information. The U.S. government provides assistance and links to other helpful sources on its Web site.

district offices all over the country (as noted in the opening case, Vellus Products used these services and credits them with the company’s international successes). Within that department are two organizations dedicated to providing businesses with intelligence and assistance for attacking foreign markets: the International Trade Administration and the United States and Foreign Commercial Service. These agencies provide the potential exporter with a “best prospects” list, which gives the names and addresses of potential distributors in foreign markets along with businesses they are in, the products they handle, and their contact person. In addition, the Department of Commerce has assembled a “comparison shopping service” for 14 countries that are major markets for U.S. exports. For a small fee, a firm can receive a customized market research survey on a product of its choice. This survey provides information on marketability, the competition, comparative prices, distribution chan- nels, and names of potential sales representatives. Each study is conducted on-site by an officer of the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce also organizes trade events that help potential exporters make foreign contacts and explore export opportunities. The department

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 449

organizes exhibitions at international trade fairs, which are held regularly in major cit- ies worldwide. The department also has a matchmaker program, in which department representatives accompany groups of U.S. businesspeople abroad to meet with quali- fied agents, distributors, and customers. Another government organization, the Small Business Administration (SBA), can help potential exporters (see the accompanying Management Focus for examples of the SBA’s work). The SBA employs 76 district international trade officers and 10 regional interna- tional trade officers throughout the United States as well as a 10-person international trade staff in Washington, D.C. Through its Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program, the SBA also oversees some 850 volunteers with international trade experience to provide one-on-one counseling to active and new-to-export businesses.

Management FOCUS

Exporting with a Little Government Help

Exporting can seem like a daunting prospect, but the reality is that in the United States, as in many other countries, many small enterprises have built profitable export busi- nesses. For example, Landmark Systems of Virginia had virtually no domestic sales before it entered the European market. Landmark had developed a software program for IBM mainframe computers and located an independent distributor in Europe to represent its product. In the first year, 80 percent of sales were attributed to exporting. In the second year, sales jumped from $100,000 to $1.4 million— with 70 percent attributable to exports. Landmark is not alone; government data suggest that in the United States by 2007, nearly 97 percent of the 240,000 firms that exported were small or medium-sized businesses that employed fewer than 500 people. Their share of total U.S. exports grew steadily over the last decade and reached 29 percent by the mid-2000s. To help jump-start the exporting process, many small companies have drawn on the expertise of government agencies, financial institutions, and export management companies. Consider the case of Novi, Inc., a California- based business. Company President Michael Stoff tells how he utilized the services of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of International Trade to start exporting: “When I began my business venture, Novi, Inc., I knew that my Tune-Tote (a stereo system for bicycles) had the potential to be successful in international markets. Although I had no prior experience in this area, I began researching and collecting information on international markets. I was willing to learn, and by targeting key sources for information and guidance, I was able to pene- trate international markets in a short period of time. One vital source I used from the beginning was the SBA.

Through the SBA I was directed to a program that dealt specifically with business development—the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). I was assigned an adviser who had run his own import/export business for 30 years. The services of SCORE are provided on a continual basis and are free. “As I began to pursue exporting, my first step was a thor- ough marketing evaluation. I targeted trade shows with a good presence of international buyers. I also went to DOC (Department of Commerce) for counseling and information about the rules and regulations of exporting. I advertised my product in ‘Commercial News USA,’ distributed through U.S. embassies to buyers worldwide. I utilized DOC’s World Traders Data Reports to get background information on po- tential foreign buyers. As a result, I received 60 to 70 inqui- ries about Tune-Tote from around the world. Once I completed my research and evaluation of potential buyers, I decided which ones would be most suitable to market my product internationally. Then I decided to grant exclusive distributorship. In order to effectively communicate with my international customers, I invested in a fax. I chose a U.S. bank to handle international transactions. The bank also provided guidance on methods of payment and how best to receive and transmit money. This is essential know-how for anyone wanting to be successful in foreign markets.” In just one year of exporting, export sales at Novi topped $1 million and increased 40 percent in the second year of operations. Today, Novi, Inc., is a large distributor of wireless intercom systems that exports to more than 10 countries.

Sources: Small Business Administration Office of International Trade, “Guide to Exporting,”; U.S. Department of Commerce, “A Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies, 2000–2001,” February 2003, report available at trade/aip/index.html#profile; and The 2007 National Exporting Strategy (Washington, DC: U.S. International Trade Commission, 2007).

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450 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

The SBA also coordinates the Export Legal Assistance Network (ELAN), a nationwide group of international trade attorneys who provide free initial consultations to small busi- nesses on export-related matters. In addition to the Department of Commerce and SBA, nearly every state and many large cities maintain active trade commissions whose purpose is to promote exports. Most of these provide business counseling, information gathering, technical assistance, and financing. Unfortunately, many have fallen victim to budget cuts or to turf battles for political and financial support with other export agencies. A number of private organizations are also beginning to provide more assistance to would-be exporters. Commercial banks and major accounting firms are more willing to assist small firms in starting export operations than they were a decade ago. In addition, large multinationals that have been successful in the global arena are typically willing to discuss opportunities overseas with the owners or managers of small firms. 12

UTILIZING EXPORT MANAGEMENT COMPANIES One way for first-time exporters to identify the opportunities associated with exporting and to avoid many of the associated pitfalls is to hire an export management company (EMC). EMCs are export specialists who act as the export marketing department or international department for their client firms. EMCs normally accept two types of export assignments. They start exporting operations for a firm with the under- standing that the firm will take over operations after they are well established. In another type, start-up services are performed with the understanding that the EMC will have continuing responsibility for selling the firm’s products. Many EMCs specialize in serving firms in particular industries and in particular areas of the world. Thus, one EMC may specialize in selling agricultural products in the Asian market, while another may focus on exporting electronics products to East- ern Europe. MD International, for example, focuses on selling medical equipment to Latin America. In theory, the advantage of EMCs is that they are experienced specialists who can help the neophyte exporter identify opportunities and avoid common pitfalls. A good EMC will have a network of contacts in potential markets, have multilingual employees, have a good knowledge of different business mores, and be fully conver- sant with the ins and outs of the exporting process and with local business regula- tions. However, the quality of EMCs varies. 13 While some perform their functions very well, others appear to add little value to the exporting company. Therefore, an exporter should review carefully a number of EMCs and check references. One drawback of relying on EMCs is that the company can fail to develop its own exporting capabilities.

EXPORT STRATEGY In addition to using EMCs, a firm can reduce the risks associated with exporting if it is careful about its choice of export strategy. 14 A few guidelines can help firms improve their odds of success. For example, one of the most successful exporting firms in the world, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (3M), has built its export success on three main principles—enter on a small scale to reduce risks, add additional product lines once the exporting operations start to become successful, and hire locals to promote the firm’s products (3M’s export strat- egy is profiled in the accompanying Management Focus). Another successful ex- porter, Red Spot Paint & Varnish, emphasizes the importance of cultivating personal relationships when trying to build an export business (see the Management Focus at the end of this section).

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 2 Identify the steps managers can take to improve their firm’s export performance.

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 2 Identify the steps managers can take to improve their firm’s export performance.

Export Management

Company Export specialists who

act as the export marketing department for

client firms.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 451

The probability of exporting successfully can be increased dramatically by taking a handful of simple strategic steps. First, particularly for the novice exporter, it helps to hire an EMC or at least an experienced export consultant to help identify opportunities and navigate the paperwork and regulations so often involved in exporting. Second, it often makes sense to initially focus on one market or a handful of markets. Learn what is required to succeed in those markets before moving on to other markets. The firm that enters many markets at once runs the risk of spreading its limited management resources too thin. The result of such a shotgun approach to exporting may be a failure to become established in any one market. Third, as with 3M, it often makes sense to enter a foreign market on a small scale to reduce the costs of any subsequent failure. Most importantly, entering on a small scale provides the time and opportunity to learn about the foreign country before making significant capital commitments to that mar- ket. Fourth, the exporter needs to recognize the time and managerial commitment in- volved in building export sales and should hire additional personnel to oversee this activity. Fifth, in many countries, it is important to devote a lot of attention to building strong and enduring relationships with local distributors and/or customers (see the Management Focus on Red Spot Paint for an example). Sixth, as 3M often does, it is important to hire local personnel to help the firm establish itself in a foreign market. Local people are likely to have a much greater sense of how to do business in a given

Management FOCUS

Export Strategy at 3M

The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. (3M), which makes more than 40,000 products including tape, sandpa- per, medical products, and the ever-present Post-it Notes, is one of the world’s great multinational operations. Today over 60 percent of the firm’s revenues are generated out- side the United States. Although the bulk of these revenues came from foreign-based operations, 3M remains a major exporter with over $2 billion in exports. The company often uses its exports to establish an initial presence in a foreign market, only building foreign production facilities once sales volume rises to a level that justifies local production. The export strategy is built around simple principles. One is known as “FIDO,” which stands for First In (to a new market) Defeats Others. The essence of FIDO is to gain an advantage over other exporters by getting into a market first and learning about that country and how to sell there before others do. A second principle is “make a little, sell a little,” which is the idea of entering on a small scale with a very modest investment and pushing one basic product, such as reflective sheeting for traffic signs in Russia or scouring pads in Hungary. Once 3M believes it has learned enough about the market to reduce the risk of failure to reasonable levels, it adds additional products. A third principle at 3M is to hire local employees to sell the firm’s products. The company normally sets up a local sales subsidiary to handle its export activities in a country. It then

staffs this subsidiary with local hires because it believes they are likely to have a much better idea of how to sell in their own country than American expatriates. Because of the implementation of this principle, less than 200 of 3M’s 40,000-plus foreign employees are U.S. expatriates. Another common practice at 3M is to formulate global strategic plans for the export and eventual overseas pro- duction of its products. Within the context of these plans, 3M gives local managers considerable autonomy to find the best way to sell the product within their country. Thus, when 3M first exported its Post-it Notes, it planned to “sample the daylights” out of the product, but it also told local managers to find the best way of doing this. Local managers hired office cleaning crews to pass out samples in Great Britain and Germany; in Italy, office products dis- tributors were used to pass out free samples; while in Malaysia, local managers employed young women to go from office to office handing out samples of the product. In typical 3M fashion, when the volume of Post-it Notes was sufficient to justify it, exports from the United States were replaced by local production. Thus, after several years 3M found it worthwhile to set up production facilities in France to produce Post-it Notes for the European market.

Sources: R. L. Rose, “Success Abroad,” The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 1991, p. A1; T. Eiben, “US Exporters Keep On Rolling,” Fortune, June 14, 1994, pp. 128–31; 3M Company, A Century on Innovation, 3M, 2002; and 2005 10K form archived at 3M’s Web site at

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452 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

country than a manager from an exporting firm who has previously never set foot in that country. Seventh, several studies have suggested the firm needs to be proactive about seeking export opportunities. 15 Armchair exporting does not work! The world will not normally beat a pathway to your door. Finally, it is important for the exporter to retain the option of local production. Once exports reach a sufficient volume to justify cost-efficient local production, the exporting firm should consider establishing production facilities in the foreign market. Such localization helps foster good relations with the foreign country and can lead to greater market acceptance. Exporting is often not an end in itself, but merely a step on the road toward establishment of foreign production (again, 3M provides an example of this philosophy).

Export and Import Financing Mechanisms for financing exports and imports have evolved over the centuries in re- sponse to a problem that can be particularly acute in international trade: the lack of trust that exists when one must put faith in a stranger. In this section, we examine the financial devices that have evolved to cope with this problem in the context of international

Management FOCUS

Red Spot Paint & Varnish

Established in 1903 and based in Evansville, Indiana, Red Spot Paint & Varnish Company is in many ways typical of the companies that can be found in the small towns of America’s heartland. The closely held company, whose CEO, Charles Storms, is the great-grandson of the founder, has 500 employees and annual sales of close to $90 million. The company’s main product is paint for plastic compo- nents used in the automobile industry. Red Spot products are seen on automobile bumpers, wheel covers, grilles, headlights, instrument panels, door inserts, radio buttons, and other components. Unlike many other companies of a similar size and location, however, Red Spot has a thriving international business. International sales (which include exports and local production by licensees) now account for between 15 percent and 25 percent of revenue in any one year, and Red Spot does business in about 15 countries. Red Spot has long had some international sales and once won an export award. To further its international business, Red Spot hired a Central Michigan University professor, Bryan Williams. Williams, who was hired because of his foreign-language skills (he speaks German, Japanese, and some Chinese), was the first employee at Red Spot whose exclusive focus was international marketing and sales. His first challenge was the lack of staff skilled in the business of exporting. He found that it was difficult to build an inter- national business without in-house expertise in the basic mechanics of exporting. According to Williams, Red Spot needed people who understood the nuts and bolts of

exporting—letters of credit, payment terms, bills of lading, and so on. As might be expected for a business based in the heartland of America, no ready supply of such individu- als was in the vicinity. It took Williams several years to solve this problem. Now Red Spot has a full-time staff of two who have been trained in the principles of exporting and international operations. A second problem that Williams encountered was the clash between the quarter-to-quarter mentality that fre- quently pervades management practice in the United States and the long-term perspective that is often neces- sary to build a successful international business. Williams has found that building long-term personal relationships with potential foreign customers is often the key to get- ting business. When foreign customers visit Evansville, Williams often invites them home for dinner. His young chil- dren started calling one visitor from Hong Kong “Uncle.” Even with such efforts, however, the business may not come quickly. Meeting with potential foreign customers yields no direct business 90 percent of the time, although Williams points out that it often yields benefits in terms of competitive information and relationship building. He has found that perseverance pays. For example, Williams and Storms called on a major German automobile parts manu- facturer for seven years before finally landing some busi- ness from the company.

Sources: R. L. Rose and C. Quintanilla, “More Small U.S. Firms Take Up Exporting with Much Success,” The Wall Street Journal, December 20, 1996, p. A1, A10; and interview with Bryan Williams of Red Spot Paint.

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 4 Recognize the basic steps involved in export financing.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 453

trade: the letter of credit, the draft (or bill of exchange), and the bill of lading. Then we will trace the 14 steps of a typical export–import transaction. 16

LACK OF TRUST Firms engaged in international trade have to trust someone they may have never seen, who lives in a different country, who speaks a different lan- guage, who abides by (or does not abide by) a different legal system, and who could be very difficult to track down if he or she defaults on an obligation. Consider a U.S. firm exporting to a distributor in France. The U.S. businessman might be concerned that if he ships the products to France before he receives payment from the French business- woman, she might take delivery of the products and not pay him. Conversely, the French importer might worry that if she pays for the products before they are shipped, the U.S. firm might keep the money and never ship the products or might ship defec- tive products. Neither party to the exchange completely trusts the other. This lack of trust is exacerbated by the distance between the two parties—in space, language, and culture—and by the problems of using an underdeveloped international legal system to enforce contractual obligations. Due to the (quite reasonable) lack of trust between the two parties, each has his or her own preferences as to how the transaction should be configured. To make sure he is paid, the manager of the U.S. firm would prefer the French distributor to pay for the products before he ships them (see Figure 13.1). Alternatively, to ensure she receives the products, the French distributor would prefer not to pay for them until they arrive (see Figure 13.2). Thus, each party has a different set of preferences. Unless there is some way of establishing trust between the parties, the transaction might never occur.

French importer American exporter

2 Importer pays after the goods are received

1 Exporter ships the goods 13.2 figure

Preference of the French Importer

French importer American exporter

2 Exporter ships the goods after being paid

1 Importer pays for the goods 13.1 figure

Preference of the U.S. Exporter

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454 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

The problem is solved by using a third party trusted by both—normally a reputable bank—to act as an intermediary. What happens can be summarized as follows (see Figure 13.3). First, the French importer obtains the bank’s promise to pay on her be- half, knowing the U.S. exporter will trust the bank. This promise is known as a letter of credit. Having seen the letter of credit, the U.S. exporter now ships the products to France. Title to the products is given to the bank in the form of a document called a bill of lading. In return, the U.S. exporter tells the bank to pay for the products, which the bank does. The document for requesting this payment is referred to as a draft. The bank, having paid for the products, now passes the title on to the French importer, whom the bank trusts. At that time or later, depending on their agreement, the im- porter reimburses the bank. In the remainder of this section, we examine how this system works in more detail.

LETTER OF CREDIT A letter of credit, abbreviated as L/C, stands at the center of international commercial transactions. Issued by a bank at the request of an importer, the letter of credit states that the bank will pay a specified sum of money to a beneficiary, normally the exporter, on presentation of particular, speci- fied documents. Consider again the example of the U.S. exporter and the French importer. The French importer applies to her local bank, say, the Bank of Paris, for the issuance of a letter of credit. The Bank of Paris then undertakes a credit check of the im- porter. If the Bank of Paris is satisfied with her creditworthiness, it will issue a letter of credit. However, the Bank of Paris might require a cash deposit or some other form of collateral from her. In addition, the Bank of Paris will charge the importer a fee for this service. Typically this amounts to between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the value of the letter of credit, depending on the importer’s creditworthiness and the size of the transaction. (As a rule, the larger the transaction, the lower the percentage.) Assume the Bank of Paris is satisfied with the French importer’s creditworthiness and agrees to issue a letter of credit. The letter states that the Bank of Paris will pay the U.S. exporter for the merchandise as long as it is shipped in accordance with spec- ified instructions and conditions. At this point, the letter of credit becomes a financial contract between the Bank of Paris and the U.S. exporter. The Bank of Paris then sends the letter of credit to the U.S. exporter’s bank, say, the Bank of New York. The Bank of New York tells the exporter that it has received a letter of credit and that he

3 exporter ships “to the bank,” trusting bank‘s promise to pay

1 Importer obtains bank’s promise to pay on importer’s behalf

2 Bank promises exporter to pay on behalf of importer

5 Bank gives merchandise to importer

4 Bank pays exporter

6 Importer pays bank

BankFrenchimporter American exporter

figure 13.3

The Use of a Third Party

Letter of Credit Issued by a bank,

indicating that the bank will make payments

under specific circumstances.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 455

can ship the merchandise. After the exporter has shipped the merchandise, he draws a draft against the Bank of Paris in accordance with the terms of the letter of credit, at- taches the required documents, and presents the draft to his own bank, the Bank of New York, for payment. The Bank of New York then forwards the letter of credit and associated documents to the Bank of Paris. If all of the terms and conditions contained in the letter of credit have been complied with, the Bank of Paris will honor the draft and will send payment to the Bank of New York. When the Bank of New York receives the funds, it will pay the U.S. exporter. As for the Bank of Paris, once it has transferred the funds to the Bank of New York, it will collect payment from the French importer. Alternatively, the Bank of Paris may allow the importer some time to resell the merchandise before requiring payment. This is not unusual, particularly when the importer is a distributor and not the final consumer of the merchandise, since it helps the importer’s cash flow. The Bank of Paris will treat such an extension of the payment period as a loan to the importer and will charge an appropriate rate of interest. The great advantage of this system is that both the French importer and the U.S. exporter are likely to trust reputable banks, even if they do not trust each other. Once the U.S. exporter has seen a letter of credit, he knows that he is guaranteed payment and will ship the merchandise. Also, an exporter may find that having a letter of credit will facilitate obtaining preexport financing. For example, having seen the letter of credit, the Bank of New York might be willing to lend the ex- porter funds to process and prepare the merchandise for shipping to France. This loan may not have to be repaid until the exporter has received his payment for the merchandise. As for the French importer, she does not have to pay for the merchan- dise until the documents have arrived and unless all conditions stated in the letter of credit have been satisfied. The drawback for the importer is the fee she must pay the Bank of Paris for the letter of credit. In addition, since the letter of credit is a financial liability against her, it may reduce her ability to borrow funds for other purposes.

DRAFT A draft, sometimes referred to as a bill of exchange, is the instrument normally used in international commerce to effect payment. A draft is simply an or- der written by an exporter instructing an importer, or an importer’s agent, to pay a specified amount of money at a specified time. In the example of the U.S. exporter and the French importer, the exporter writes a draft that instructs the Bank of Paris, the French importer’s agent, to pay for the merchandise shipped to France. The per- son or business initiating the draft is known as the maker (in this case, the U.S. ex- porter). The party to whom the draft is presented is known as the drawee (in this case, the Bank of Paris). International practice is to use drafts to settle trade transactions. This differs from domestic practice in which a seller usually ships merchandise on an open ac- count, followed by a commercial invoice that specifies the amount due and the terms of payment. In domestic transactions, the buyer can often obtain possession of the merchandise without signing a formal document acknowledging his or her obligation to pay. In contrast, due to the lack of trust in international transactions, payment or a formal promise to pay is required before the buyer can obtain the merchandise. Drafts fall into two categories, sight drafts and time drafts. A sight draft is payable on presentation to the drawee. A time draft allows for a delay in payment—normally 30, 60, 90, or 120 days. It is presented to the drawee, who signifies acceptance of it by writing or stamping a notice of acceptance on its face. Once accepted, the time draft becomes a promise to pay by the accepting party. When a time draft is drawn on and

Bill of Exchange An order written by an exporter instructing an importer, or an importer’s agent, to pay a specified amount of money at a specified time; also called a draft.

Draft An order written by an exporter instructing an importer, or an importer’s agent, to pay a specified amount of money at a specified time.

Sight Draft A draft payable on presentation to the drawee.

Time Draft A promise to pay by the accepting party at some future date.

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456 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

accepted by a bank, it is called a banker’s acceptance. When it is drawn on and ac- cepted by a business firm, it is called a trade acceptance. Time drafts are negotiable instruments; that is, once the draft is stamped with an acceptance, the maker can sell the draft to an investor at a discount from its face value. Imagine the agreement between the U.S. exporter and the French importer calls for the exporter to present the Bank of Paris (through the Bank of New York) with a time draft requiring payment 120 days after presentation. The Bank of Paris stamps the time draft with an acceptance. Imagine further that the draft is for $100,000. The exporter can either hold onto the accepted time draft and receive $100,000 in 120 days or he can sell it to an investor, say, the Bank of New York, for a discount from the face value. If the prevailing discount rate is 7 percent, the exporter could receive $97,700 by selling it immediately (7 percent per year discount rate for 120 days for $100,000 equals $2,300, and $100,000 2 $2,300 5 $97,700). The Bank of New York would then collect the full $100,000 from the Bank of Paris in 120 days. The exporter might sell the accepted time draft immediately if he needed the funds to finance mer- chandise in transit and/or to cover cash flow shortfalls.

BILL OF LADING The third key document for financing international trade is the bill of lading. The bill of lading is issued to the exporter by the common carrier transporting the merchandise. It serves three purposes: it is a receipt, a contract, and a document of title. As a receipt, the bill of lading indicates that the carrier has re- ceived the merchandise described on the face of the document. As a contract, it specifies that the carrier is obligated to provide transportation service in return for a certain charge. As a document of title, it can be used to obtain payment or a written promise of payment before the merchandise is released to the importer. The bill of lading can also function as collateral against which funds may be advanced to the exporter by its local bank before or during shipment and before final payment by the importer.

A TYPICAL INTERNATIONAL TRADE TRANSACTION Now that we have reviewed the elements of an international trade transaction, let us see how the pro- cess works in a typical case, sticking with the example of the U.S. exporter and the French importer. The typical transaction involves 14 steps (see Figure 13.4).

1. The French importer places an order with the U.S. exporter and asks the American if he would be willing to ship under a letter of credit.

2. The U.S. exporter agrees to ship under a letter of credit and specifies relevant information such as prices and delivery terms.

3. The French importer applies to the Bank of Paris for a letter of credit to be issued in favor of the U.S. exporter for the merchandise the importer wishes to buy.

4. The Bank of Paris issues a letter of credit in the French importer’s favor and sends it to the U.S. exporter’s bank, the Bank of New York.

5. The Bank of New York advises the exporter of the opening of a letter of credit in his favor.

6. The U.S. exporter ships the goods to the French importer on a common carrier. An official of the carrier gives the exporter a bill of lading.

7. The U.S. exporter presents a 90-day time draft drawn on the Bank of Paris in accordance with its letter of credit and the bill of lading to the Bank of New York. The exporter endorses the bill of lading so title to the goods is transferred to the Bank of New York.

Bill of Lading A document issued to the

exporter by the common carrier transporting the

merchandise; it serves as a receipt, a contract, and

a document of title.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 457

8. The Bank of New York sends the draft and bill of lading to the Bank of Paris. The Bank of Paris accepts the draft, taking possession of the documents and promising to pay the now-accepted draft in 90 days.

9. The Bank of Paris returns the accepted draft to the Bank of New York. 10. The Bank of New York tells the U.S. exporter that it has received the accepted

bank draft, which is payable in 90 days. 11. The exporter sells the draft to the Bank of New York at a discount from its face

value and receives the discounted cash value of the draft in return. 12. The Bank of Paris notifies the French importer of the arrival of the documents.

She agrees to pay the Bank of Paris in 90 days. The Bank of Paris releases the documents so the importer can take possession of the shipment.

13. In 90 days, the Bank of Paris receives the importer’s payment, so it has funds to pay the maturing draft.

14. In 90 days, the holder of the matured acceptance (in this case, the Bank of New York) presents it to the Bank of Paris for payment. The Bank of Paris pays.

Export Assistance Prospective U.S. exporters can draw on two forms of government-backed assistance to help finance their export programs. They can get financing aid from the Export– Import Bank and export credit insurance from the Foreign Credit Insurance Association (similar programs are available in most countries).

American exporter French importer

2 Exporter agrees to fill order

12 Bank tells importer documents arrive

Bank of New York Bank of Paris

6 Goods shipped to France

1 Importer orders goods

14 Bank of New York presents matured draft and gets payment

8 Bank of New York presents draft and bill of lading to Bank of Paris

9 Bank of Paris returns accepted draft

4 Bank of Paris sends letter of credit to Bank of New York

13 Importer pays bank

3 Importer arranges for letter of credit

5 Bank of New York informs exporter of letter of credit

10 and 11 Exporter sells draft to bank

7 Exporter presents draft to bank

13.4 figure

A Typical International Trade Transaction

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 3 Identify information sources

and government programs that exist to help exporters.

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458 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

EXPORT–IMPORT BANK The Export–Import Bank, often referred to as Ex–Im Bank, is an independent agency of the U.S. government. Its mission is to pro- vide financing aid that will facilitate exports, imports, and the exchange of commodi- ties between the United States and other countries. In 2010 its financing activities were expanded from $4 billion to $6 billion following a push by the Obama adminis- tration to try to create some 2 million new jobs through exports. Ex–Im Bank pursues its mission with various loan and loan-guarantee programs. The agency guarantees repayment of medium and long-term loans U.S. commercial banks make to foreign borrowers for purchasing U.S. exports. The bank guarantee makes the commercial banks more willing to lend cash to foreign enterprises. Ex–Im Bank also has a direct lending operation under which it lends dollars to for- eign borrowers for use in purchasing U.S. exports. In some cases, it grants loans that commercial banks would not if it sees a potential benefit to the United States in doing so. The foreign borrowers use the loans to pay U.S. suppliers and repay the loan to the agency with interest.

EXPORT CREDIT INSURANCE For reasons outlined earlier, exporters clearly prefer to get letters of credit from importers. However, sometimes an exporter who insists on a letter of credit will lose an order to one who does not require a letter of credit. Thus, when the importer is in a strong bargaining position and able to play competing suppliers against each other, an exporter may have to forgo a letter of credit. 17 The lack of a letter of credit exposes the exporter to the risk that the foreign importer will default on payment. The exporter can insure against this possibility by buying export credit insurance. If the customer defaults, the insurance firm will cover a major portion of the loss. In the United States, export credit insurance is provided by the Foreign Credit Insurance Association (FCIA), an association of private commercial institutions oper- ating under the guidance of the Export–Import Bank. The FCIA provides coverage against commercial risks and political risks. Losses due to commercial risk result from

Export–Import Bank

Agency of the U.S. government whose

mission is to provide aid in financing and

facilitate exports and imports; also referred to

as the Ex–Im Bank.

The Export–Import Bank provides financing aid to companies, such as the example above, that require assistance with imports, exports, and the exchange of commodities.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 459

the buyer’s insolvency or payment default. Political losses arise from actions of governments that are beyond the control of either buyer or seller.

Countertrade Countertrade is an alternative means of structuring an international sale when con- ventional means of payment are difficult, costly, or nonexistent. We first encountered countertrade in Chapter 10 in our discussion of currency convertibility. A government may restrict the convertibility of its currency to preserve its foreign exchange reserves so they can be used to service international debt commitments and purchase crucial imports. 18 This is problematic for exporters. Nonconvertibility implies that the ex- porter may not be paid in his or her home currency; and few exporters would desire payment in a currency that is not convertible. Countertrade is a common solu- tion. 19   Countertrade denotes a whole range of barterlike agreements; its principle is to trade goods and services for other goods and services when they cannot be traded for money. Some examples of countertrade are:

• An Italian company that manufactures power-generating equipment, ABB SAE Sadelmi SpA, was awarded a 720 million baht ($17.7 million) contract by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. The contract specified that the company had to accept 218 million baht ($5.4 million) of Thai farm products as part of the payment.

• Saudi Arabia agreed to buy 10 747 jets from Boeing with payment in crude oil, discounted at 10 percent below posted world oil prices.

• General Electric won a contract for a $150 million electric generator project in Romania by agreeing to market $150 million of Romanian products in markets to which Romania did not have access.

• The Venezuelan government negotiated a contract with Caterpillar under which Venezuela would trade 350,000 tons of iron ore for Caterpillar earthmoving equipment.

• Albania offered such items as spring water, tomato juice, and chrome ore in exchange for a $60 million fertilizer and methanol complex.

• Philip Morris ships cigarettes to Russia, for which it receives chemicals that can be used to make fertilizer. Philip Morris ships the chemicals to China, and in return, China ships glassware to North America for retail sale by Philip Morris. 20

THE INCIDENCE OF COUNTERTRADE In the modern era, counter- trade arose in the 1960s as a way for the Soviet Union and the Communist states of Eastern Europe, whose currencies were generally nonconvertible, to purchase im- ports. During the 1980s, the technique grew in popularity among many developing nations that lacked the foreign exchange reserves required to purchase necessary imports. Today, reflecting their own shortages of foreign exchange reserves, some successor states to the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European Communist nations periodically engage in countertrade to purchase their imports. Estimates of the percentage of world trade covered by some sort of countertrade agreement range from highs of 8 and 10 percent by value to lows of about 2 percent. 21 The precise figure is unknown but it is probably at the low end of these estimates given the increasing liquidity of international financial markets and wider currency con- vertibility. However, a short-term spike in the volume of countertrade can follow periodic financial crisis. For example, countertrade activity increased notably after

LEARNING OBJECTIVE 5 Describe how countertrade

can be used to facilitate exporting.

Countertrade The trade of goods or services for other goods or services.

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460 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

the Asian financial crisis of 1997. That crisis left many Asian nations with little hard currency to fi- nance international trade. In the tight monetary regime that followed the crisis in 1997, many Asian firms found it very difficult to get access to export credits to finance their own international trade. Thus they turned to the only option avail- able to them—countertrade.

Given that countertrade is a means of financing international trade, albeit a relatively minor one, prospective exporters may have to engage in this technique from time to time to gain access to certain international markets. The governments of develop- ing nations sometimes insist on a certain amount of countertrade. 22 For example, all foreign companies contracted by Thai state agencies for work costing more than 500 million baht ($12.3 million) are required to accept at least 30 percent of their pay- ment in Thai agricultural products. Between 1994

and mid-1998, foreign firms purchased 21 billion baht ($517 million) in Thai goods under countertrade deals. 23

TYPES OF COUNTERTRADE With its roots in the simple trading of goods and services for other goods and services, countertrade has evolved into a diverse set of activities that can be categorized as five distinct types of trading arrangements: barter, counterpurchase, offset, switch trading, and compensation or buyback. 24 Many coun- tertrade deals involve not just one arrangement, but elements of two or more.

Barter Barter is the direct exchange of goods and/or services between two parties without a cash transaction. Although barter is the simplest arrangement, it is not com- mon. Its problems are twofold. First, if goods are not exchanged simultaneously, one party ends up financing the other for a period. Second, firms engaged in barter run the risk of having to accept goods they do not want, cannot use, or have difficulty reselling at a reasonable price. For these reasons, barter is viewed as the most restrictive coun- tertrade arrangement. It is primarily used for one-time-only deals in transactions with trading partners who are not creditworthy or trustworthy.

Counterpurchase Counterpurchase is a reciprocal buying agreement. It occurs when a firm agrees to purchase a certain amount of materials back from a country to which a sale is made. Suppose a U.S. firm sells some products to China. China pays the U.S. firm in dollars, but in exchange, the U.S. firm agrees to spend some of its pro- ceeds from the sale on textiles produced by China. Thus, although China must draw on its foreign exchange reserves to pay the U.S. firm, it knows it will receive some of those dollars back because of the counterpurchase agreement. In one counterpurchase agreement, Rolls-Royce sold jet parts to Finland. As part of the deal, Rolls-Royce agreed to use some of the proceeds from the sale to purchase Finnish-manufactured TV sets that it would then sell in Great Britain.

Offset An offset is similar to a counterpurchase insofar as one party agrees to pur- chase goods and services with a specified percentage of the proceeds from the original sale. The difference is that this party can fulfill the obligation with any firm in the

Another Per spect i ve

CARP Stimulates International Trade Countertrade could soon be booming in Denmark as a result of a recent $4 billion combat aircraft replacement program initiated by the Danish government. Under the terms of the program, Denmark intends to order 30 to 48 combat jets—a purchase that could prove to be a windfall for many of the country’s defense contractors in terms of subcontracts and partnership opportunities. For example, U.S.-based Boeing Company, a leading con- tender for the contract to build those jets, has already expressed interest in fuel-cell products manufactured by Danish defense contractor Falck Schmidt Defence Systems (FSDS). (Gerard O’Dwyer, “Looking for a Ride on F-35,” Defense, December 14, 2009,

Barter The direct exchange of goods and/or services

between two parties without a cash


Counterpurchase A reciprocal buying


Offset A buying agreement

similar to a counterpurchase, but the exporting country

can then fulfill the agreement with any firm

in the country to which the sale is being made.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 461

country to which the sale is being made. From an exporter’s perspective, this is more attractive than a straight counterpurchase agreement because it gives the exporter greater flexibility to choose the goods that it wishes to purchase.

Switch Trading The term switch trading refers to the use of a specialized third- party trading house in a countertrade arrangement. When a firm enters a counterpur- chase or offset agreement with a country, it often ends up with what are called counterpurchase credits, which can be used to purchase goods from that country. Switch trading occurs when a third-party trading house buys the firm’s counterpur- chase credits and sells them to another firm that can better use them. For example, a U.S. firm concludes a counterpurchase agreement with Poland for which it receives some number of counterpurchase credits for purchasing Polish goods. The U.S. firm cannot use and does not want any Polish goods, however, so it sells the credits to a third-party trading house at a discount. The trading house finds a firm that can use the credits and sells them at a profit. In one example of switch trading, Poland and Greece had a counterpurchase agreement that called for Poland to buy the same U.S.-dollar value of goods from Greece that it sold to Greece. However, Poland could not find enough Greek goods that it required, so it ended up with a dollar-denominated counterpurchase balance in Greece that it was unwilling to use. A switch trader bought the right to 250,000 counterpurchase dollars from Poland for $225,000 and sold them to a European sultana (grape) merchant for $235,000, who used them to purchase sultanas from Greece.

Compensation or Buybacks A buyback occurs when a firm builds a plant in a country—or supplies technology, equipment, training, or other services to the country—and agrees to take a certain percentage of the plant’s output as partial pay- ment for the contract. For example, Occidental Petroleum negotiated a deal with Russia under which Occidental would build several ammonia plants in Russia and as partial payment receive ammonia over a 20-year period.

THE PROS AND CONS OF COUNTERTRADE Countertrade’s main attraction is that it can give a firm a way to finance an export deal when other means are not available. Given the problems that many developing nations have in raising the foreign exchange necessary to pay for imports, countertrade may be the only option available when doing business in these countries. Even when countertrade is not the only option for structuring an export transaction, many countries prefer counter- trade to cash deals. Thus, if a firm is unwilling to enter a countertrade agreement, it may lose an export opportunity to a competitor that is willing to make a countertrade agreement. In addition, a countertrade agreement may be required by the government of a country to which a firm is exporting goods or services. Boeing often has to agree to counterpurchase agreements to capture orders for its commercial jet aircraft. For example, in exchange for gaining an order from Air India, Boeing may be required to purchase certain component parts, such as aircraft doors, from an Indian com- pany. Taking this one step further, Boeing can use its willingness to enter into a counterpurchase agreement as a way of winning orders in the face of intense com- petition from its global rival, Airbus. Thus, countertrade can become a strategic marketing weapon. However, the drawbacks of countertrade agreements are substantial. Other things being equal, firms would normally prefer to be paid in hard currency. Countertrade

Switch Trading The use of a specialized third-party trading house in a countertrade arrangement.

Buyback When a firm builds a plant in a country and agrees to take a certain percentage of the plant’s output as partial payment for the contract.

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462 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

contracts may involve the exchange of unusable or poor-quality goods that the firm cannot dispose of profitably. For example, a few years ago, one U.S. firm got burned when 50 percent of the television sets it received in a countertrade agreement with Hungary were defective and could not be sold. In addition, even if the goods it re- ceives are of high quality, the firm still needs to dispose of them profitably. To do this, countertrade requires the firm to invest in an in-house trading department ded- icated to arranging and managing countertrade deals. This can be expensive and time-consuming. Given these drawbacks, countertrade is most attractive to large, diverse multina- tional enterprises that can use their worldwide network of contacts to dispose of goods acquired in countertrading. The masters of countertrade are Japan’s giant trading firms, the sogo shosha, which use their vast networks of affiliated companies to profit- ably dispose of goods acquired through countertrade agreements. The trading firm of Mitsui & Company, for example, has about 120 affiliated companies in almost every sector of the manufacturing and service industries. If one of Mitsui’s affiliates receives goods in a countertrade agreement that it cannot consume, Mitsui & Company will normally be able to find another affiliate that can profitably use them. Firms affiliated with one of Japan’s sogo shosha often have a competitive advantage in countries where countertrade agreements are preferred. Western firms that are large, diverse, and have a global reach (e.g., General Elec- tric, Philip Morris, and 3M) have similar profit advantages from countertrade agreements. Indeed, 3M has established its own trading company—3M Global Trading, Inc.—to develop and manage the company’s international countertrade programs. Unless there is no alternative, small and medium-sized exporters should probably try to avoid countertrade deals because they lack the worldwide network of operations that may be required to profitably utilize or dispose of goods acquired through them. 25

sogo shosha, p. 447 export management company, p. 450 letter of credit, p. 454 bill of exchange, p. 455 draft, p. 455

sight draft, p. 455 time draft, p. 455 bill of lading, p. 456 Export–Import Bank, p. 458 countertrade, p. 459

barter, p. 460 counterpurchase, p. 460 offset, p. 460 switch trading, p. 461 buyback, p. 461

Key Terms

Summary In this chapter, we examined the steps that firms must take to establish themselves as exporters. The chapter made the following points:

1. One big impediment to exporting is ignorance of foreign market opportunities.

2. Neophyte exporters often become discouraged or frustrated with the exporting process

because they encounter many problems, delays, and pitfalls.

3. The way to overcome ignorance is to gather information. In the United States, a number of institutions, most important of which is the Department of Commerce, can help firms gather information in the matchmaking process.

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 463

Export management companies can also help identify export opportunities.

4. Many of the pitfalls associated with exporting can be avoided if a company hires an experienced export management company, or export consultant, and if it adopts the appropriate export strategy.

5. Firms engaged in international trade must do business with people they cannot trust and people who may be difficult to track down if they default on an obligation. Due to the lack of trust, each party to an international transaction has a different set of preferences regarding the configuration of the transaction.

6. The problems arising from lack of trust between exporters and importers can be solved by using a third party that is trusted by both, normally a reputable bank.

7. A letter of credit is issued by a bank at the request of an importer. It states that the bank promises to pay a beneficiary, normally the exporter, on presentation of documents specified in the letter.

8. A draft is the instrument normally used in international commerce to effect payment. It is an order written by an exporter instructing an importer, or an importer’s agent, to pay a specified amount of money at a specified time.

9. Drafts are either sight drafts or time drafts. Time drafts are negotiable instruments.

10. A bill of lading is issued to the exporter by the common carrier transporting the merchandise. It serves as a receipt, a contract, and a document of title.

11. U.S. exporters can draw on two types of government-backed assistance to help finance their exports: loans from the Export– Import Bank and export credit insurance from the Foreign Credit Insurance Association.

12. Countertrade includes a range of barterlike agreements. It is primarily used when a firm exports to a country whose currency is not freely convertible and may lack the foreign exchange reserves required to purchase the imports.

13. The main attraction of countertrade is that it gives a firm a way to finance an export deal when other means are not available. A firm that insists on being paid in hard currency may be at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis one that is willing to engage in countertrade.

14. The main disadvantage of countertrade is that the firm may receive unusable or poor-quality goods that cannot be disposed of profitably.

Critical Thinking and Discussion Questions 1. A firm based in Washington State wants to

export a shipload of finished lumber to the Philippines. The would-be importer cannot get sufficient credit from domestic sources to pay for the shipment but insists that the finished lumber can quickly be resold in the Philippines for a profit. Outline the steps the exporter should take to effect this export to the Philippines.

2. You are the assistant to the CEO of a small textile firm that manufactures quality, premium- priced, stylish clothing. The CEO has decided to see what the opportunities are for exporting and has asked you for advice as to the steps the company should take. What advice would you give the CEO?

3. An alternative to using a letter of credit is export credit insurance. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using export credit insurance rather than a letter of credit for exporting (a) a luxury yacht from California to Canada, and (b) machine tools from New York to Ukraine?

4. How do you explain the use of countertrade? Under what scenarios might its use increase further by 2015? Under what scenarios might its use decline?

5. How might a company make strategic use of countertrade schemes as a marketing weapon to generate export revenues? What are the risks associated with pursuing such a strategy?

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464 Part Five Competing in a Global Marketplace

Use the globalEDGE Resource Desk (http://global to complete the following exercises:

1. The Internet is rich with resources that provide guidance for companies wishing to expand their markets through exporting. GlobalEDGE provides links under a category called Trade Tutorials . Identify three sources listed by globalEDGE and provide a description of

the services available for new exporters through each of these sources.

2. You work for a banking company that hopes to provide financial services in India. After searching a resource that enumerates the import and export regulations for a variety of countries, outline the most important foreign trade barriers your firm’s managers must keep in mind while developing a strategy for entry into the Indian banking market.

Research Task

MD International

Al Merritt founded MD International in 1987. A former sales- man for a medical equipment company, Merritt saw an op- portunity to act as an export intermediary for medical equipment manufacturers in the United States. He chose to focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, regions in which he had experience. Trade barriers were starting to fall throughout the region as Latin governments embraced a more liberal economic ideology, creating an opening for en- trepreneurs such as Merritt. Local governments were also expanding their spending on health care, creating an oppor- tunity that Merritt was poised to exploit. Merritt located his company in south Florida to be close to his market. The company has grown to become the largest intermediary exporting medical devices to the region. Today the company sells the products of more than 30 medical manufacturers to some 600 regional distributors. While many medical equipment manufacturers don’t sell directly to the region because of the sizable marketing costs, MD can af- ford to because it goes into those markets with a broad port- folio of products. The company’s success is in part due to its deep-rooted knowledge and understanding of the Latin American mar- ket. MD works very closely with teams of doctors, biomedi- cal engineers, microbiologists, and marketing managers across Latin America to understand their needs, and what the company can do for them. The sale of products to cus- tomers is typically only the beginning of a relationship. MD

International also provides hands-on training to medical personnel in the use of devices and extensive after-sales service and support. Along the way to becoming a successful exporter, MD International has leaned heavily upon export assistance programs established by the U.S. government. For example, in the early 2000s a shipment to Venezuela was held up by the country’s customs service, demanding proof that the medical devices were not intended for military use. Within two days, staff at the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Miami arranged for the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela to have a letter written and delivered to customs, assuring that the products had no mili- tary applications, and the shipment was released. Merritt has also worked extensively with the Export–Import Bank to gain financing for its exports (the company needs to finance the inventory that it exports). Despite these advantages, it has not all been easy going for MD International. Latin American economies have often been highly cyclical, and MD International has ridden those cycles with them. In 2001, for example, after several years of solid growth, an economic crisis in both Argentina and Brazil, coupled with a slowdown in Mexico, resulted in losses for the year and forced Merritt to layoff one-third of his staff and cut the pay of others, which included a 50 per- cent pay cut for himself. Things started to improve in 2002, and the weak dollar in the mid-2000s also helped to boost export sales. However, the global financial crisis of 2008

closing case

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Chapter Thirteen Exporting, Importing, and Countertrade 465

ushered in another tough period, although prior experience suggests that MD International can not only survive such downturns, but also come out stronger as weaker competi- tors fall by the wayside.

Sources: J. Bussey, “Where Have All the Exporters Gone?” Miami Herald, September 30, 2005, p. C1; M. Chandler, “Dade Firm Seeks to Remake Health Care,” Miami Herald, June 15, 2000; and C. Cultice, “Exports with a Heart,” U.S. Department of Commerce, export success stories, at

Case Discussion Questions 1. How does an intermediary such as MD International

create value for the manufacturers who use it to sell medical equipment in foreign markets? Why do they

want to use MD International rather than export directly themselves?

2. Why did MD International focus on Latin America? What are the benefits of this regional approach? What are the potential drawbacks?

3. What would it take for MD International to start exporting to other regions such as Asia or Europe? Given this, would you advise Al Merritt to continue his regional focus going forward, or to add other regions?

4. How important has government assistance been to MD International? Do you think helping firms such as MD International represents good use of taxpayer money?

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