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Managing Global Trade

Rising importance but lagging execution

November 04, 2013

Research conducted in April 2013 by SCM World on managing global manufacturing footprints highlighted the growing complexity of cross-border trade. Where globalization once meant low-cost country sourcing, today it is clear that goods must move in all directions at once – east to west, north to south, rich country to poor country and back again. Movement of product, whether as raw material input, finished goods or capital equipment, requires an approach to global trade management that is ever vigilant to regulations, taxes, transportation costs and more – and one that is equally capable of facilitating inbound supply and outbound delivery to end customer markets.

To understand the business drivers and execution challenges associated with this increasingly important and complex area, we fielded a survey to the SCM World community. Having collected 114 complete responses and then conducted a further 10 in-depth interviews, we arrived at some broad conclusions that suggest global trade management has begun to outgrow most companies’ largely manual processes.

The highlights of our findings include:

  • Three-quarters of the companies surveyed conduct trade across more than 10 countries, with almost half
    (48%) trading across more than 50 countries.

  • Over 41% of the companies surveyed import more than half of their products from international suppliers.
  • More than 97% of respondents say that product cost savings are either “important” or “very important” business
    drivers of international sourcing.


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