Anyone who has ever been involved in any aspect of international trade, more specifically the actual shipping of goods from the U.S. to the four corners of the world, will most likely appreciate this quick look-see on the value-added of freight forwarders.
I can tell you that they can be your lifeline on any number of issues from shipping your freight labeled as dangerous goods to tracking the whereabouts of freight gone missing and the customer hysterics at the other end of the world that usually ensues. Many international trade professionals will find either one of those scenarios to be all too familiar ones. It has been my pleasure to have worked with a few stellar freight forwarding companies who have helped me out of difficult situations on more than one occasions. This I will admit. I can also count the number of times customers have insisted that we use their freight forwarders. After lengthy discussions and their insistance we agree. Disaster, delay or disappointment were the inevitable results. My advice? Keep your freight forwarder close to you, they are your ace in the hole. You might wish to think about how you would handle the latest supply-chain crisis now happening live in the Suez Canal and what is your crisis management plan?
Courtesy of the EXIM
By Ken Click, Business Development Specialist & Richard Foy, Regional Director
One of the most important things that an exporter can do is to align themselves with an experienced freight forwarder. A freight forwarder is a key partner to an exporter because they’re not only going to help with logistics—the movement of their freight from the U.S. to their foreign buyer—but freight forwarders are experienced in documentation, in the bills of lading, and in all the other important documents that are needed. That way the exporter can rest assured that they don’t have to worry about that piece of the business.” - Sharyn Koenig, former Managing Director of the eastern and western sales regions, Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).
Regardless of an exporter’s size or experience, it's important to view the relationship with a freight forwarder as a partnership rather than a hired service provider. They play a critical role for U.S. exporters and are experts in navigating the many details necessary to get it right when exporting. U.S. companies can depend on freight forwarders for the following:
- Securing space with an air or ocean carrier at competitive pricing.
- Providing knowledge of regulatory requirements and preparing documentation to satisfy these requirements
- Transmitting shipment data provided by the exporter to the appropriate regulatory agencies.
- Facilitating an exporter's customer's import activities by providing needed documents and information in a timely manner.
While all forwarders can help exporters get their goods to foreign markets with fewer complications, not all are alike. Some forwarders concentrate on a particular global region and their in-country relationships and local market knowledge can be beneficial to an exporter, especially during peak shipping times or selling into a foreign market with a complex import process. Other freight forwarders are generalists and serve broader needs.