An international trade agent acts as a representative for companies that want to do business in other countries. Such agents can facilitate every step of the deal, from locating a supplier to verifying shipment. Depending on where they work, they may need to bear credentials or certifications from the government. Their services can include a range of options for clients of different sizes and needs.
Companies are not required to work through an trade agent in many cases, but they may find it helpful to do so. This type of agent has representatives and offices in many foreign countries and is familiar with the pertinent laws, including trade restrictions, tariffs, and so forth. Working with an international trade agent may allow a company to avoid some common trading pitfalls, such as filling out declarations incorrectly or paying an unusually high tariff on a load of goods.
Agents can assemble collectives of companies with products to sell and connect them with potential buyers outside the country. Buyers can contact them to request samples and pricing information. The agent provides this information along with delivery estimates and other data that might be important for the buyer to have in the process of making a decision. If the buyer decides to move ahead with a purchase, the agent can set up shipping and delivery to the buyer's warehouse or a local port or airport.
Buyers can also approach an international trade agent to ask for help locating sellers who may not be specifically affiliated with the agent. In this case, agents scour their countries for potential sources and bring back information to the buyers they represent. This can be useful for buyers who cannot travel to personally meet sellers, inspect their facilities, and negotiate deals. With help, they can access more information and may find the process of finalizing the deal easier.
Attorneys sometimes work as international trade agents or consultants to firms offering these services. Working with an attorney can be helpful, as there may be legal matters to consider, and some trade declarations require legal forms and appropriate witnesses. In cases where the agent cannot offer legal services, he or she can typically provide referrals to local legal partners who can help with this aspect of a deal, if necessary. Trade agents typically establish relationships with a variety of businesses in their home nation to cover legal needs, shipping concerns, and other issues like veterinary or agricultural inspections, if necessary.