Passages

The International Trade Blog

U.S. Trade Hits Record Levels Amid Supply Chain Woes and Global Uncertainty

2021 could have been known as the year of continued uncertainty. The combination of an ongoing pandemic, erratic economic conditions and lingering global tensions worked in concert to create a roller-coaster environment for international trade. In the United States, inflation climbed, the supply chain was stretched thin and scores of workers quit their jobs.

In spite of this, U.S. imports and exports were higher than ever. Now, policy makers in the United States must figure out how to manage an influx of commerce while keeping the domestic economy from overheating and navigating international relations.

What exactly happened in 2021?

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Freight Forwarder vs. Customs Broker: What's the Difference?

Many importers and exporters, especially beginners, assume that freight forwarders and customs brokers are two names for the same thing. I'm afraid that's not true.

Freight forwarders and customs brokers provide specific types of services, and each play an important role in international trade and international shipping. Many international transactions use the services of both forwarders and brokers, and sometimes a single company will do both.

Here's what you need to know about forwarders and brokers, how they fit in the international shipping process and specific examples of how they may be used.

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World Trade Month 2022 Is in May and You Are Invited

Global trade drives the world’s economy. If you’re an importer or exporter, a freight forwarder or a customs broker, you see this play out every day. And you did long before the rest of the world took notice thanks to several years filled with volatility. That’s why, since 1935, May has been designated World Trade Month. It’s a chance to recognize the important role international trade plays in the U.S. economy. It's also a time for people learn about getting started as exporter or expanding their existing business.  

In honor of World Trade Month, the World Trade Month Association publishes a calendar of events taking place during May. Many of these events are free and most of them give importers and exporters an opportunity to learn more about the various aspects of global trade.

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Introducing Passages: The International Trade Blog

Passages. We use them to move from one place to the next. We highlight them when we read to further our understanding of the world. We note them in our journals to remember where we've been and where we are headed.

Passages are an opportunity to move forward, improve our knowledge and prepare for what's next. That's why we've renamed our blog, Passages: The International Trade Blog. We want the name to reflect our goal to provide information that people involved in international trade can use to help solve a particular problem, get a better understanding of the import-export landscape, and move their careers forward.

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Selecting International Suppliers through E-auctions: Benefits and Drawbacks

Choosing the best suppliers can be a time-consuming process, but companies that excel in this area of supply chain management (SME) can reap savings to their bottom line. The more traditional procurement process typically involves issuing a request for proposal (RFP) or request for quotation (RFQ). If you’re looking to compare several different suppliers, each would need to submit a full proposal, and negotiations could go on for weeks.

On the other hand, an increasing number of importers, exporters and transport companies are using e-auctions to find the most competitive prices for goods and services. E-auctions use internet-based technology to help select suppliers, based on price alone or on other criteria that are important to the buyer (product selection, quality, delivery schedules or volume allocation, for example).

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A Glossary of International Shipping Terms

Shipping products seems simple, right? You simply package the product and send it to your customer. But did you know there are different types of shipment?

Depending on the size of your shipment, it may be considered parcel, less-than-load (LTL) or a full truckload (FTL) shipment. Your shipment may be too small for certain carriers, or conversely, if you have a large shipment, you may have to rely on a carrier certified to ship large containers. There are also unique considerations depending on the mode of transport—whether you’re shipping via air, sea, road or rail.

The wide variety of terms that relate to the process of moving goods through a supply chain may seem overwhelming. Understanding the different types of shipment and related terms is crucial to ensure your goods get shipped on time, within compliance and in good shape.

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What is Landed Cost?

If you are involved in international shipping at your company, chances are you’ve heard mention of the term “landed cost.” Understanding the landed cost of your international transactions is a key factor in making strategic business decisions. But what exactly is landed cost?

This blog post explains what landed cost is, why it’s important, the role of Incoterms in determining landed cost, how to calculate landed cost, and the benefits of using landed cost software.

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HS Codes 2022: What Every Exporter Needs to Know

As new products come on the market and existing products change, the harmonized system numbers used to classify them need to be updated. To make these changes, the World Customs Organization (WCO) undertakes a formal process.

On Jan. 1, 2022, a new version of HS numbers, called HS 2022, went into effect. In this article, we’ll discuss the changes to HS classification and how exporters can stay up-to-date when classifying products.

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How Sourcing Impacts the Supply Chain

Sourcing is an upstream part of the supply chain: It’s the process of strategically choosing the right services and goods that a company needs to run their business. Sourcing is also the act of buying goods, including seller selection, contract negotiation and measuring the long-term performance of your suppliers.

Sourcing greatly impacts an organization’s operations, so establishing long-term relationships will help companies gain a competitive advantage. Because after all, suppliers impact a company’s operations on many levels: finances, inventory levels, quality of goods and timely arrival. A stable sourcing process ensures your inventory levels will meet market supply and demand.

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U.S. and EU Seal Deal on Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Announced during the G-20 summit in Rome, European Union (EU) and United States negotiators reached an agreement over the long-standing issue of Section 232 tariffs on EU exports of steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) to the US.

Originally limited to "mill" products when imposed in 2018 by President Trump, the tariffs were later expanded to cover "derivative" products such as nails and wire.

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