Tools of the International Trade

Automated systems can make trade compliance easier and more efficient.

When it comes to complying with international trade regulations, there are usually more questions than answers. But according to Jim Preuninger, CEO of Management Dynamics Inc., a provider of global trade management solutions, automated software solutions could provide the answers that allow your business to keep up.

Analyst firm Aberdeen Group reports that more than 60% of large enterprises involved in global trade today don't use any kind of dedicated technology to support their compliance programs, relying instead on traditional methods such as spreadsheets, e-mails and fax machines. As a result, errors in compliance are still fairly common. In fact, as the scale and the scope of global trade has increased over the past few years, compliance violations have actually increased as companies have struggled to adapt, according to Preuninger.

"It's just a much bigger, harder job than it used to be," he says. "Too many things are constantly changing, which means there are more opportunities to make mistakes. Without automation to help deliver those answers, it can be very difficult for companies to keep up. There are tighter security initiatives and more stringent reporting requirements, so the consequences for being wrong are much higher."

In order to avoid costly penalties, manufacturers are exploring software options to relieve some of the pressure currently resting on human shoulders. Management Dynamics, for instance, offers the Trade Planner automated system, which identifies a variety of potential trade barriers, such as antidumping duties, licenses, permits, quotas and visa restrictions, absolute embargoes and prohibitions.

And since rules and restrictions change frequently, Preuninger says clients need to be updated automatically with the most current data possible. "It's not as if once the information is collected and entered into a database, you can just forget about it. This information changes, in many cases, on a daily basis. And companies today need more than just good software -- they need something that's going to collect that [updated] content. Automated systems provide that in a much more efficient and less costly manner."

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