What does a Global Trade Manager do?

Global trade managers can also be referred to as international trade managers, compliance managers or even import/export compliance managers.

The role of global trade managers can vary significantly across industries and even across companies in the same industry. Generally speaking, a global trade manager will have any combination of the following responsibilities (not an exhaustive list):

  1. Valuation of products for Customs clearance
  2. Transfer pricing documentation and decision making
  3. HS classification of products
  4. Free Trade Agreement utilization
  5. Import & Export licensing
  6. Incoterms® advisory to sales teams
  7. Providing guidance on Customs operational procedures
  8. Export controls
  9. Export control classification
  10. General Customs clearance risk advisory

Other Global trade jobs

Large MNCs that do extensive cross border business typically hire a global trade compliance team, while smaller companies may hire only a trade compliance manager in a sole contributor role. Even smaller companies that aren’t yet mature enough to count on compliance as a strategic partner may choose to hire only global trade analysts or specialists. Pay scales can vary however the trade compliance industry generally offers better compensation to individuals with strong work experience, as opposed to individuals with strong academic results. This is because trade compliance is very much a professional career track but with limited opportunity to use academic to increase actual proficiency. Most companies require compliance teams that are able to navigate through complex regulations taking into account all local practices, as opposed to an individual who has only memorized the letters of the law of the land.

Depending on the complexity of the business and the volume of sales, some companies can make do with a single headcount managing several sites while other companies may require teams of dedicated headcounts for single sites.

Global trade compliance consulting

Many companies rely on professional consultants to support their compliance programs. Selecting suitable vendors and managing them is often a part of the global trade manager’s job. This is actually a very important aspect of the role. Most consultants charge by the hour and not setting a clearly defined scope can cause costs to skyrocket when things don’t go according to plan. The Global trade manager also has to make a responsible decision of when a consultant has to be engaged and when things can be sorted out in-house.

Since the trade compliance industry is so complex, there are compliance companies that deal only in specific aspects such as export controls or HS classification.

Global trade management workflow

Another important aspect of a compliance manager’s job is to manage the global trade management workflow. In almost every company this goes through continuous improvement projects every year. This could be manual work flow processes to handle day to day operational activities like assigning HS codes to imports, applying for FTAs, assigning Customs values to invoices and/or conducting audits. Some companies may use software to manage the work such as the Global Trade module by Thomson Reuters or by SAP. In addition to global trade workflow management software, companies may also subscribe to content services such as Descartes CustomsInfo, Fedex WorldTariff or Integration Point by Thomson Reuters.

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