International markets offer opportunities ... and challenges

World markets may be at your fingertips, but buying and selling across the world is much more complicated than clicking the mouse a few times.

“United States merchants need to understand local customs in different countries in order to secure supply contracts or sell their products abroad,” said Attorney Gifford Collins.

International law and cultural competence are interests of Collins, who studied in Belgium as an undergraduate at Missouri State University and in Shanghai, China, while a student at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

U.S. businesses with international operations, or considering them, need to be aware of their options if the supplier does not do what was promised or if there are problems with the quality of product or supplies.

“As lawyers, we attempt to provide our clients with foreseeability—the potential solutions to risks clients might encounter if they expand into another market,” Collins said. “Our job is to provide a solution that will protect our client but allow for a smooth business transaction.”

Ideally, Collins said it is best to visit prospective clients or suppliers in another country or at least to have a trusted representative on the ground there.

Other issues to consider are differences in environmental standards and anti-piracy regulations.

“If you get raw material or labor from a different country, it is important to visit that country from a corporate responsibility perspective and understand their environmental processes or working conditions,” Collins said. “It’s important to know where the material came from and how it will be processed, manufactured and shipped.”

For more information on international business law, contact Gifford Collins at 608-784-5678.


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