Our research and experience in working with importers and exporters of all sizes across various industry sectors, points to a trade compliance role that is a composite of responsibilities reflective of both the “big picture” or macro perspective, and the more operational micro view.
In fact, if one were to look at the overall continuum of risk within the context of the global trade business cycle, trade compliance, as both a risk mitigation and opportunity assessment competence, it would be woven throughout all the various stages, and across all timelines.
The Macro Strategic View
The traditional view of the trade compliance professional’s core responsibilities is that of an administrator who monitors the process and “paperwork” relating to a company’s imports of components and finished goods in the supply chain, and exports of finished goods to distributors or ultimate customers.
But the evolution of global trade with its complex array of variables has increased the demands on trade compliance professionals well beyond the role of a “trade traffic cop” focused on operational details, to include the full commercial universe of enterprise activities.
“Some boards maintain a list of the top issues that could potentially impact their company, suppliers, customers, business partners, and associated entities. They monitor global legislative and regulatory agendas around those issues, and develop different scenarios to assess, in advance, the impact these changes may have on their operations, including looking at how regulatory changes may create opportunities and not compliance needs.”
– Deloitte Directors Alert 2013: Time to Take Advantage of the New Business Reality
Ultimately, the trade champion works with senior leadership to integrate compliance into strategic planning where *any type* of global trade compliance consequence is triggered. This can include the strategic priorities that cover the global commercial landscape including:
- Manufacturing Locations
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Strategic Partnerships
- New Markets
- Global Outsourcing
- Supply Chain
Strategic initiatives are the domain of the board and senior leadership, with a focus on the commercial opportunities or risks involved. This is precisely where the trade champion can and must play an integral role: at various stages of the discovery process including initial exploration; strategic planning; operational scenario scoping; implementation; and ongoing assessment.
More specifically, areas of scrutiny at a macro level that require direct oversight and a channel of visibility to senior leadership include such elements as:
- Trade Eligibility/Restrictions
- Valuation/Taxation Implications
- Free Trade Agreement Eligibility
- Duty/Tariff Exposure
- Intellectual Property/Patent Protection
- Liability Exposure
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