What are the needs and wants of the import/export industry?
Companies in the import/export business want to make a profit, as do most companies. They want to have access to foreign markets, and to be able to import the requisite goods or services into their own country without bureaucratic hurdles. To the extent possible, they want to maximize their share of both the domestic and foreign markets.
What companies in the import/export business need is a more complicated matter. The need as much data and information on their intended foreign markets as possible. They need to know where that market is, and how to access it. They need to know what the laws and regulations of the foreign countries in which they hope to operate are so that they do not inadvertently run afoul of those law and regulations. And they need to know the culture of the countries in which they hope to operate. Failure to understand the foreign cultures will invariably result in unintentially insulting the foreign nationals involved, which will result in lost business.
Within the United States, there are a series of laws and regulations involving multiple government agencies of which the company must be aware. The company's officials must know and comply with U.S. Department of Commerce procedures for exporting goods and services and must comply with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency regulations. Failure to understand regulations pertaining to types of goods that cannot be brought into the country or, conversely, exported out of the country can result in both lost business, steep monetary fines, and potentially a prison sentence. The company needs to know what, if any, tariffs or duties must be paid on the goods being shipped into or out of the country.
Most importantly, the company needs to know whether goods or services to be exported require a license from the Department of Commerce. Certain types of goods intended for certain foreign countries are prohibited from being exported from the United States, for example, items with civilian uses that can also be used for military purposes. Exports to a major market like China have to be carefully scrutinized for evidence that they can be used for purposes to which the exporting company may not be aware. Again, failure to be aware of such restrictions can be costly.