Strong & Herd LLP articles on key international trade topics is a quick way to get an expert view of matters relating to export, import and customs procedures and related international trade issues.  Written by S&H LLP partners or associates, these articles provide additional information and work in association with our blogs - import/export matters;  EU customs updatesIncoterms 2010 - and News section of the website.

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December 2017

1.  Using Your Website as an Export Sales Tool

It isn't called the World Wide Web for nothing.

As the digital world has gradually become normal, it is already hard to remember what it was like to be a small business twenty years ago, when your market was what you could physically reach in person, by mail or by phone.  Now, even the smallest one man band invariably has a website, which means they have a window on the world.  A shop window.  Customers from Santiago Chile to Moscow can find them. Read more

2.  Exhibitions - Selecting, Planning & Participating

 "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half". John Wanamaker (1838-1922).  Read more

3.  The Slow Migration to Paperless Trade

The subject is not new, we have been talking about paperless trade and e-commerce for almost thirty years but progress has been painfully slow.  Looking at how quickly technology has advanced over the last thirty years it does seem strange that we are still couriering bills of lading all over the world and churning out multiple paper invoices covering every shipment.  The internet, email and mobile phone 'revolutions' have been relatively quick, so why is the international trade process lagging behind so far?  Some readers will recall that BOLERO was extablished in 1998 by a conglomerate of SWIFT, major logistics providers and the insurance industry to provide digital solutions across global supply chains.  The BOLERO system, a private sector venture, has achieved some traction and provides interesting solutions.  However, it is not widely used notwithstanding some excellent innovation and 'thought leadership' within the remit of international e-commerce. Read more

November 2017

1.  Running a Successful Event in Another Country

For the vast majority of exporting businesses, the time comes when staging your own event in another country becomes more or less inevitable.  Although we live in a digital age, where electronic communication is immediate, inexpensive and (if done correctly) highly effective, many will find that face to face contact is crucial when trying to make an impact. Read more

2.  The Rotterdam Rules

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea on 11th December 2018  Read more

3.  Supply Chain Security - Is AEO a Global Solution?

The 'Trusted Trader' concept was established under the World Customs Organisation SAFE Framework of Standards.  The SAFE Framework was a response to terrorist threats to the supply chain with the purpose of mitigating the envisaged risks thus enhancing supply chain secuirty.  Read more

4.  Using Social Media in International Trade

The rise of social media is a great opplortunity for any business to raise its international profile.  Perhaps the best thing about it is that many of the benefits can be enjoyed for little to no cost, but there are downsides as well.  Read more

October 2017

1.  "Magna Carta and all that"

On 15 June 1215, Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede.  King John, who was very unpopular, was encouraged to come to the table with a group of rebel barons.  In part, it was about "feudal payments" to the Crown - taxes on the rich and powerful.  And "encouraged" is putting it politely - I think he could have lost his head if he hadn't come to the table. Read more

2.  Florence and the Magic Roundabout

I'm not talking about the Magic Roundabout, albeit there are similarities, as you will see, but the speech of the UK Prime Minister in Florence, Italy on Friday 22 September 2017.  Read more

3.  Managing Export Customers

To really succeed in exporting, a company needs to be proactive Read more

4.  Incoterms Rules and Revenue Recognition

Despite it not being written for this purpose, why do companies use Incoterms Rules for Revenue Recognition?  some businesses think by that by selling under ExWorks as it is seen as the best Incoterms Rule for early revenue recognition  Read more

5.  Managing Agents and Distributors Part Two - Setting & Achieving Targets

As I said in the previous article, finding a suitable representative in a target market is often half the battle in export success.  Read More

6.  The Global Customs Dilemma - Trade Facilitation versus Revenue Collection & Enforcement

When a customs officer, in any country, is asked 'what is your role?' the official answer should be 'my role is to facilitate legitimate trade'.  Read more

September 2017

1.  Letters of Credit - The Issues of Bank Compliance & KYC

I have just received an interesting call from a frustrated exporting client.  The company sells a range of power products to global markets, including the Middle East, Asia and Africa, where letters of credit are often used to secure payment. Read more

2  Launching a New Product - The International Perspective

 "What's New?" That's the greeting so many of us get when greeting an existing customer or contact, isn't it? And it's so helpful for business relationships, for example at an exhibition or conference, to be able to tell people, or better still show them, a new product or application.  It helps to keep the discussion fresh and to give contacts something else to work on. Read more

3.  Letters of Credit - When will the Advising Bank Pay?

A documentary credit (also known as a letter of credit or L/C) is not only a vital tool enabling exporters to secure payment from overseas buyers, but should also provide a degree of certainty with regard to cash flow.  The standard structure of the L/C includes timings for shipment and presentation, following which (assuming the bank determines that the documents comply with the terms), payment will be forthcoming....

..... or will it? Read more

4.  Redefining Vegetarianism

I am not a vegetarian, although I have had phases and found them beneficial in terms of losing weight and feeling generally purged.  I am mainly pescatarian because my wife, who is mainly vegetarian, is occasionally prepared to eat fish.  Read more 

5.  Managing Agents and Distributors Part One - Motivation Techniques

In this article , we discuss distributors and agents as if they were the same thing.  They aren't of course, but many of the principles of managing such parties are broadly similar.  Read more 

6.  What the Single Window Concept Really Means For Traders

 UNCEFACT Recommendation 33 defines Single Window as "a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements.  If information is electronic, then individual data elements should only be submitted once"  Read more

7.  The Lives of Others

 I've had the pleasure over this last year to visit and work in five countries I had not previously visited.  We all carry preconceptions about a range of things when travelling into the 'unknown': culture, the structure of society and business, the level of English spoken, the food we will eat, etc.  However in reality, where there may be differences in the way our lives have been conditioned, fundamentally people are the same the world over, want the same things and have similar needs   Read more 

August 2017

1.  Coping with Currency - Managing Fluctuations

Every business struggles with uncertainty at one time or another.  A large amount of management time is spent dealing with "what if" scenarios in order to have a plan for unexpected contingencies.  Read more

2.  The Trouble with Brexit

I have never made a secret of my support for continuing membership of the European Union.  You can reform a club if you are a member, but you lose the right if you choose to leave.  Read more

3.  Remote Working - How to Make the Most of Information and Communications Technology

The world of work is changing fast and whatever we may face in the future, the chances are there will be more changes and much of this is being driven by ICT, or information and communications technology.  Read more

 4.  Time Zones & Different Working Weeks

Well it could happen! A number of years ago I was working simultaneously on client projects in North America, Hong Kong and Austrailia.  Potentially my working day could have stretched to as many as 17 hours, with my farthest West customer being in Vancouver and my farthest East being in Sydney.  As I write this now just short of 4pm UK time, the guys in Vancouver will be getting ready for their 8am journey to work and the boys in Sydney may well be in the land of Nod! Read more

5.  Doing Business with Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest GDP and populatinon in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Like many developing and emerging economies, the courntry has a growing and well educated middle class, hungry for consumer products, whether Western style food and drink, technology or household goods.  The market is huge, however there is a well-publicised downside, inflation is steep and foreign exchange shorgages are significant, combine this with endemic corruption and burdensome and expensive import processes and the landscape appears to be challenging, if not overtly daunting.  Read more

July 2017

1. Leadership in Export - Motivating Agents & Distributors

Choosing the right distributor or agent is one half of the key to succeeding in a market.  The other half is getting them to achieve their potential.  Read more

2. Brexit - Where are we now?

The honest answer wouold seem to be that nobody has got a clear idea.  Many are espousing opinions, but it seems that even those negotiating on behalf of the United Kingdom do not know what they aim to achieve, or at least have no intention of telling UK businesses and citizens what they are up to.  Read more

3.  Is this the time to export to Argentina?

Considering that we are based just across from Argentina (on the other side of the River Plate) and given the media presence of its now-not-so-new pro-business president (Mauricio Macri) after 12 years of the very mediatric Kirchner duo, it is not suprising that we get asked "what's happening with Argentina?" very often and more importantly "is this the right time to export to Argentina, finally?"  Read more

4.  How to Make Meetings Work

Take a look at your diary.  How much time in the last month was taken up in meetings?  If you are anything like me, the answer is almost certainly 'far too much'.  We all know that communication is important and we can't work in a vacuum, so why are so many meetings apparently unproductive and what can we do about it?  Read more

5. INCOTERMS: Is C for Confusing?

The C Group has the main heading of 'Main Carriage Paid', meaning that  the main carriage is paid by the seller.  It is a constant within the Incoterms ® rule system that a place must be named when the term is formalised within the contract of supply between buyer and seller.  The place named within the C term will always be a place in the country of destination, hence CIF Bangkok, CPT Sydney and so on.  This is because the seller has the responsibility for paying the carriage to the point named.  As we will see under 'key points and responsibilities' there are common confusions and misconceptions related particularly to the C group of terms which prompted the quote from Professor Ramberg referred to at the beginning of this article.  Read more

6.  The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement finally came into force on 22nd February 2017.  Is it really a big deal and what does it mean for UK busiiness.  Read more

7. Brexit - tax on consumption - principle must be protected.

At the very moment Britian prepared to vote for Brexit, the EU court (CJEU) was giving a massive boost to the beleaguered UK alcohol excise industries by confirming a simple but massively sgnificant principle - excise duty is a tax on consumption.  This might seem obvious and trite but HMRC has always refuted this principle because of its beneficial consequences to the industry and taxpayers.  Read more


June 2017

1.  Brexit - Render to Caesar

Some years ago I used this quote only to be brought up shor by my former business partner, Tony Borman, who knows his bible and he asked me to read that part in full.  I'm not a religious man, but I was intrigued by the text -

Read more

2.  Letters of Credit - What the Sales People Need to Know

"A sale is not a sale until it's paid for."

It's an over-used phrase perhaps, but one that export sales people need to live by strictly in order to survive.  The risks and complications of international business are so wide ranging and any sales negotiation needs to give careful attention to how payment will be made, which is equally as important as setting the price and determining shipping arrangements.  Read more

3. Uruguay as a Hub for Your South American Operations

Uruguay, with its population of 3.3m people, is much smaller than its giant neighbours Argentina and Brazil.  However, for the Southern Cone of South America, Uruguay could be your ideal hub base for access to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.  It's important to remember that Uruguay is also in the Mercosur trade bloc together with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay (and Venezuela) and strategically placed with coasts both on the River Plate and on he Atlantic. Read more

4. Incoterms 2010 - DAP, DAT or DDP: Is it D for Dangerous?

 The essential point about D terms is that they extend the sellers delivery obligation to the country of destination unlike the other terms where, in the sense of delivery under the contract, delivery, legally takes place under the contract in the country of departure.  This is why contracts using F and C terms are often referred to as 'shipment contracts' and those with D terms as 'arrival contracts'  Read more

5.  The Happy Traveller - Survival Techniques for Export Representatives

Working and travelling.  To combine the two might seem like a rare privilege.  Read more

6.  Is it time for a revision of UCP 600?

It is estimated that around 70% of documents presented under documentary letters of credit are rejected upon first presentation to banks due to discrepancies (or apparent discrepancies).  Read more

7.  Doing business with Latin America

Gabriela Castro-Fontoura is Director at Sunnay Sky Solutions, who support businesses at different stages of expansion into Latin America.  Gabriela has worked with businesses that were already exporting to Latin America, with businesses starting to export to the region and with some just thinking about it.  She has also worked with businesses with no intention at all whatsoever of exporting to this region.

Here she shares her top ten tips for doing business with Latin America - whether you are exporting or importing from this exciting and varied region.  Read more


May 2017

1.  Getting Paid Part 2 - Managing Credit Customers

While effective credit management is crucial for any business, it is particularly important in international trade.  Exporting businesses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of late paymetns for a number of reasons including the following:-  Read more

2.  Article 218: The Next Steps

The triggering of Article 50 of the TFEU moved the Brexit negotiations to another part of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union - Article 218.  This Article sets out the EU's rules for conducting negotiations with theird parties. For example, it defined the way negotiations happened between the EU and Canada over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and between the EU and Singapore on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.  Of course, the UK is not a third country yet but a trade deal can only be negotiated under this Article and any agreement must be ratified by all 27 EU countries and their national parliaments. (Belgium alone has seven of them). Read more

3.  What are Trade Agreements

In the wake of the triggering of Article 50. Jeff Lewis from import export training experts Resultz decodes the specifics of trade agreements.  Here's what you need to know ...  Read more.  

4.  What are Incoterms?

 It stands for International Commercial Terms and they are an internationally recognised system of establishing clearly, in sales contracts, the legal obligations of the buyer and seller with regard to the DELIVERY OF GOODS.  It is beneficial to all parties involved in international transactions especially, to have any vagueness misunderstandings and confusion in international contracts removed.  Incoterms have been written to do just that in this important area of delivering the goods. Read more

5.  Young BExA award winners set their sights on Africa

 Read more

6. Tales from the Road - The Changing Nature of Travel

When people aks me what I do I normally answer "I'm an International Trade Consultant" which usually shuts them up! While most people just accept it as what I do, some like to delve a little deeper.  The trouble is that after more than 30 years of interntional business travel it is getting harder to provide a concise summary.  Read more

6.  Brexit - What did the Romans ever do for us?

First, whilst the UK Government has not made this plain, the intention is to retain VAT in the UK and reading between the lines, in its current form.  That is a relief as, for example, trying to change systems, including invoicing routines, by 31 March 2019 would be a tall order even for the most efficient and well-resourced of companies. Read more


April 2017


1.  Getting Paid Part 1 - Agreeing the Right Payment Terms

In this article and the following one, I am looking at the imporrance of managing payments on international transactions. Read more

2.  They Tax, We Export - Part 2

In our last blog post, we discussed the issue of import duties and how protectionist measures in Latin America can deter British businesses from considering these markets.  Read more

3.  HMRC Getting Tough with Customs Clearance Agents (and ignorance is not excuse)

It has become noticeable over the past six months or so that the number of enquiries received from freight forwarders and Customs clearance agents (as opposed to exporters and importers) is on the increase.  Is this a Brexit factor? or is it the new Union Customs Code (UCC) simply kicking in?  read more

4.  A Perception of Danger

I was watching the news this morning and saw that protesters had infiltrated the Madedonian Parliament, bloodying the face of the leader of the Social Democrats.  Read more


March 2017

1.  Trade Facilitation - The Way Forward

On the 22nd February 2017 the historic Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) came into force.  According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) it is the first multilateral trade agreement to be concluded since the WTO was established 20 years ago.  Now it has entered into force it is expected to reduce total trade costs by more than 14 percent for low-income countries and more than 13 percent for upper middle-income countries by streamlining the flow of trade across borders. Read more

2.  Export Jargon - An Introduction for Novice Exporters

 Export jargon can be mystifying for individuals or businesses that haven't been involved in international trade before.  Two of the biggest mistakes a novice exporter can make are to either assume that exporting is so easy they don't need any help or advice, or to assume it's so difficult they would rather not do it.  The prominence of unfamiliar words, abbreviations and phrases can add to the confusion, so here we offer a brief guide to some of the most commonly used ones.  Read more 

3. They Tax, We Export - Part 1 (Dealing with Latin American Import Duties)

 There are many obstacles in exporting to Latin America.  However, the one mentioned again and again by British businesses is import duties.  They hurt because they are unavoidable, they are non-negotiable and because anyone with a basic understanding of business finance can easily see how they affect the profitability - and the likeness - of exporting to these booming economies. Read more

4.  Banks enjoy finding Discrepancies

We constantly receive feedback from exporting companies frustrated by the apparent inflexibility of banks when examining documents presented under letters of credit.  The perception is that "banks enjoy finding discrepancies because of the fees they can earn.  Easy money!"  read more 

February 2017

1.  Timber!!! What is FLEGT

FLEGT stands for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.  The EU's FLEGT Action Plan was established in 2003.  It aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.  The hoped for effect is that no illegal timber or timeber products can be sold in the EU.  Read more

2.  The Brexit Impact - What it Might mean for Exporters?

Since the referendum result was announced more than six months ago, the Brexit story has rarely been out of the headlines in our newspapers, TV and radio.  Early predictions of a sharp decline in the economy have proven to be wide of the mark - at least for now, leaving egg on the faces of many leading economists and business observers.  Last month, we heard the Prime Minister set out her vision for the country after we eventually leave the European Union.  It is now expected that Article 50 will be invoked by the end of March, effectively firing the starting gun for the process that will lead to the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union and it would seem, the Single Market and the Common Customs Union as well.  Read more 




3FTAs a Panacea or Placebo

Are they the Panacea, a Placebo or Just a Pain in the Articles?

We are seeing and hearing a lot about how the way forward post-Brexit is to ensure the UK has good Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).  We are even talking about having an FTA with the remaining 27-members of the EU.  But is having lots of FTAs the panacea that certain government ministers and spokespersons would like us to think or simply a placebo to pacify the unwary?  Speaking as someone who has worked in international trade trying to put FTAs into practice for 32 years, FTAs are a pain in the "articles"! read more


January 2017

1.  Tales from the Road - The Luck of the Draw

The timing of my training delivery in Kosovo last June was interesting, to say the least.  One of the themes of my training to a gorup of Kosovan export consultants from 28-30 June was 'how to trade with the European Union', five days after the UK had voted to leave.  The referendum decision was met with incredulity by the delegates because Kosovo had only signed up to a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU on 27th October 2015.  Their need for closer ties with the EU contrasted with the UK's apparent need to distance itself.  Read More 

2.  Product Modifications for Exporters

When a business begins to shift attention from the home market to export markets, it's really important to consider the product offering and be prepared tomake modification to make them suitable to local needs and expections. Read More

3Tales from the Road - For the Love of Flying

Back in November, I had the privilege to visit Mongolia to do some training for the Institute of Export.  During that week I experienced a range of different attitudes to Customer Care, Customer Services, 'the Customer Experience'. Read More

4.  Tales from the Road - Approach with Paranoia

Sometimes it is hard to find a line between caution and paranoia when travelling in an unfamiliar country.  I think there is probably an equation somewhere that places exhaustion along a sliding scale between the two.  I have known several occasions when either my sixth sense or my usual sense of reason has been blurred by an uncomfortable feeling of not being entirely in control of a situation.  Read more

5 A Cautionary Tale of Incoterms and Payment

How much though do you give to the underlying contract delivery terms when requesting letters of credit from overseas buyers?  Read more


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