FREE GUIDE: Finding international agents & distributors, the benefits & pitfalls

Could the Windsor Framework be about to implode?!

Anyone trading with or from Northern Ireland since Brexit will be aware of the increased difficulties and effective border down the Irish Sea. It’s an issue which has been a constant bone of contention, especially with Northern Ireland politicians, leading to the collapse of the Stormont Assembly after the DUP withdrew. 

Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission announced the so-called Windsor Framework on 27th February, hailed as the solution to the issues and a victory for common sense. But what does it mean for international trade? Will it actually improve the situation for UK-NI traders without closing the border between NI and the EU?

One of the key wins is the Green Lane/Red Lane idea where goods from the rest of the UK destined for Northern Ireland will follow a Green Lane, with a separate Red Lane for goods destined for or at risk of ending up in the EU. It has been publicised as if the Green Lane will have virtually no paperwork and movement of goods to NI will be like before Brexit. 

As ever the devil is in the detail. There will in fact still be paperwork requirements for traders, albeit at a significantly reduced level. There will still be around 25 datapoints required. This is not being called a Customs Declaration, but some would argue in effect that is what it will be. Goods in the Green Lane will not be subject to systematic checks, though the facility for spot checks is there. 

Parcels will not be subject to full customs declarations but from 2024 the parcel operators will be required to share data with the EU to manage smuggling risks. 

Current bans on certain products like chilled sausages entering Northern Ireland as a result of EU law will be lifted, meaning anything available in UK supermarkets will once again be available in Northern Ireland. New labelling arrangements will come into force for some goods. UK VAT and Excise Duties will once again apply in Northern Ireland for alcoholic drinks for immediate consumption.

Northern Ireland retailers will have to qualify as trusted traders to benefit from the reduced paperwork, however. Rishi Sunak explains:

“It means food retailers like supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers will no longer need hundreds of certificates for every lorry,” Sunak said. “If food is available on supermarket shelves in Great Britain, then it will be available on supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland.”

Personal, online shopping and business-to-business parcels sent from Britain into Northern Ireland “will have to complete no customs paperwork”, he said.

Download now: Checklist for exporting from the EU to the UK post-Brexit

Bans on seed potatoes and 11 types of native UK trees will also be lifted. Medicines approved in the UK will automatically be available in Northern Ireland. This is a major boost for pharmaceutical companies in the UK and the NHS.

Goods moving from NI to the rest of the UK will not require paperwork. 

On the face of it, this is a good agreement for Northern Ireland, keeping its foot in both the UK and EU with it seems the minimum of bureaucracy. Yet could all be about to implode? 

A key element of the framework is the so-called Stormont Break, designed to give the Northern Ireland Assembly a say on how EU laws are applied in Northern Ireland. It can effectively put a brake on new laws being implemented. 

Read more: New Northern Ireland framework could unlock US trade deal

The DUP has indicated that it will oppose this element of the framework in a House of Commons vote on 22nd March 2023. If they do, then the future of the overall agreement could be in doubt. The bill will still pass on Wednesday as it has Labour support, but ultimately the DUP must be convinced in order to restart the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland which has failed to sit for over a year.

Watch this space!

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The Expert Exporter: Taking time to work on your business, not IN your business

I was at a conference this week all about marketing and how to expand your business. There were some truly inspirational and interesting speakers, from TV Dragons, major company CEOs, through to a performance psychologist and marketing experts. 

One theme that came out time and again was the importance of planning and taking the time to work on your business, not in your business. Creating the breathing space to really focus on where you want to go and what you need to do to get there. Yet at the same time remaining agile enough to react to ever-changing market conditions. Who would have predicted a global pandemic or war in Ukraine with all their human and economic consequences?

It struck me that this is exactly the support we offer our clients on their export journey. We help them to focus on taking the right decisions; not to rush in before they are export ready, before understanding customs and compliance requirements, before evaluating their target markets and the true potential they offer, before thoroughly researching the right routes to market and local channel partners. 

When confronted with the day-to-day challenges of running your business, the pressure to meet growth targets, or replace declining markets, it can be difficult to focus on making informed decisions. There is a tendency to rush in. 

This is where Go Exporting can help you. We take the strain by doing the important groundwork, providing accurate information to allow you to make the right decisions on your international strategy.

With over 30 years’ experience in helping businesses just like yours to profitably expand into international markets, we have developed a range of cost-effective services which support you in the right areas along that journey.

These are just some examples of how we can help. Every customer is different, however, so we are flexible and work with you to achieve your objectives.

Take time out to work on your business, not in your business.

For the month of October, we are offering a limited number of FREE 30-minute consultations with our CEO Mike Wilson to discuss any aspects of your international journey you would like to raise. He will provide advice and answer your direct questions. There’s absolutely no obligation and no hard sell…. in fact, no sell at all! This is a special benefit offered to our customers and newsletter subscribers.

Limited slots available!

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The Expert Exporter: Ready to re-focus on international expansion?

Welcome back to the September edition of our newsletter. It’s been a very hot summer in the UK with temperatures reaching over 40 degrees for the first time in history! Global warming is here and needs to be tackled sooner rather than later. Despite the heat, hopefully everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is back from their summer breaks suitably refreshed and ready to expand their international business.

The first question to ask is Where? Where are the best opportunities for my business? Throughout the articles in our Expert Exporter resource hub one theme is consistent – the need to focus. It is impossible to export everywhere at once. A scattergun approach simply will not work in the long term. You may have some short-term success by hitting the right customer at the right time, but to profitably expand your exports you need a well thought out and suitably resourced plan. It is counterproductive to try to enter 10 countries all at once if you only have the manpower and resources for one. Better to do one well and then move on to the next when the time is right. 

How do you narrow down and identify your target market? Gut instinct? NO!

You need to take a much more measured and scientific approach than that, really get to know the possibilities for your product or service, decide which will be your target market(s).

Look in-house. 

Research your own data. Where do your enquiries come from? Where do you sell at the moment? Do you understand why? What are the drivers for those customers to buy from you? Is it a one off or is there a real market demand? Ask them for feedback.

Where your competitors sell. 

Where do they have their own sales team, a distributor or agent? Where do they sell directly from head office? Where do they attend conferences and exhibitions? Where do they advertise? Are they a member of any overseas trade bodies? Have they invested in specific country approvals? 

Get to know them better than ever before. They may well save you a lot of time, money and effort by pointing you in the right direction. Don’t worry that they are there first, it just shows there is a market and you already know what your value proposition is in order to sell against them.

Market Size Data 

Competitors and in-house data are helpful, but what if they are misleading? Is there any official data on the size of market in your target country or countries? If not, is there any private research available or could you commission some? Consultants, like Go Exporting, often offer this as a cost-effective service to clients in order to build a longer-term relationship.

Customer Analysis

We’ve already looked at where your and your competition’s existing customers are, but we also need to analyse whether the buyer for your products or service is the same in each market. 

Is there a different supply chain set up? Are there specifiers involved? Does the government or ultimate client purchase directly, or do subcontractors procure as part of an overall package or service? The distinctions may seem slight, but it can make a big difference to the ease of market entry and therefore the market potential.

Barriers to Entry

So, we’ve identified what appears to be a lucrative country for our products. There is a good market size and we have identified who the potential customers are. All seems good, but we are not yet ready to commit. First, we must identify the barriers to entry. 

Are there approvals required before we can sell? Is there any national certification or government registration process? Is there trade body we need to be a member of? Is membership open or closed? 

How strong is the local competition? Are there any well-established foreign competitors? We should not be frightened of competition, after all it is a sign that there is a market, but we should be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, their market position. Market share can be bought, but is it worth it in the long run? 

What are the transport links like? Will freight costs make our product uncompetitive?

Is language going to be a barrier? Is English commonly spoken in business?

Look at all the angles to see where obstacles may lie which could derail or seriously delay market entry.


How are you going to sell in the target market? Will you demand your home currency? If so how will this affect sales? Is the currency readily available?

If you accept the local currency what are the likely fluctuations in exchange rate? Will you bank accept the currency or will you need a local bank account? Is that feasible without a local entity? Are you prepared to do that?

Currency can make or break market entry, so be clear what you are taking on from the beginning and your acceptable level of risk. If yours is a high margin product or service fluctuations are not such an issue, but for lower margins beware and ensure price fluctuation is built in to contracts of sale.

Country Risk

How politically and economically stable is the target country? Is the regime likely to change? What is the likelihood that international sanctions or tariffs are applied? Is the economy growing or shrinking? Do the banks have any liquidity issues or concerns?

How comfortable do you feel about the risk?

Consolidate & Rate

We have developed a bespoke system for comparing countries, allocating a score and developing a league table of potential targets. We utilise this when we carry out this process on behalf of clients to consolidate all of the above information, weigh up the pros and cons, the potential versus the risk. 

This is used to give a rating for each country, from prime target, to do not touch. It’s a process which can take time and effort, but ultimately can save thousands in helping you make the best-informed decision possible. 

Download our new book

Download our new book The 7 Steps to Export Success on Amazon for full details and examples of our bespoke process.

Or for a no-obligation discussion on how Go Exporting can FastTrack your export growth please call +44 800 689 1423 or email

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The Expert Exporter: 10-point international marketing checklist

In this month’s newsletter, we focus on an area of exporting which is often overlooked, or given less importance than in your home market, marketing.

Going global means your marketing also has to go global. You need to create awareness of your product, your brand and generate those all-important leads. What works in your home country, however, may well not be the right approach in another. International marketing needs to be considered carefully.

Even your product name or slogan needs to be considered. A direct translation may be disastrous. Even the big brands get it wrong:

Coca Cola’s brand name in China meant, ‘Bite the Wax Tadpole’

Chevrolet’s Nova, when translated in Spanish, meant ‘Won’t Go’

It is important to really understand your target market, its language and culture and so much more. We have developed a ten-point checklist for international marketing as a guide to the important steps to take to make sure you get it right. 

This is a topic which could take up a whole book on its own, so we have written a detailed Whitepaper on International Marketing which you can download for FREE here. It will help you complete the 10-point checklist to developing your international strategy summarised below:

Consider your international marketing strategy carefully. It does not need to cost a fortune, but it does require careful planning and a targeted approach. Follow our checklist and you won’t go far wrong. 

For help and support with your international marketing give us a call.

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The Expert Exporter: How do you find the right international distributor?

Now is the time to re-evaluate your global footprint and look to new countries for your international expansion. Look to where trade agreements are in place and economies are booming for the opportunities. 

Often the easiest way to enter a market appears to be through a local distributor This is a low-risk strategy on the face of it, certainly from a fixed cost perspective. 

A Distributor is a local company that will buy your product, market and sell it themselves. You rely on them to generate the leads and secure new business. They are your customer in the target market. In fact, if you enter into an exclusive agreement, they will be your only customer! You invoice them, they invoice the end user and take the corresponding credit risk. 

A distributor may well have a strong name in the market, which will quickly help you to gain market awareness and confidence in your product/service. Market entry can be quicker and penetration deeper due to the distributors’ connections. 

On the other hand, your identity and brand can become lost, with the distributor the stronger presence. The customer is used to dealing with them, you may not have a direct relationship at all. What happens if you decide to change distributor, or they opt to drop your product? You could be back virtually to square one.

A distributor may also overcome the currency issue too, as you can sell to them in your home currency, and they can sell to the customer in the local currency. On the other hand, you have all your credit eggs in one basket with a distributor and may well have a greater overall exposure. 

If you decide to use a distributor, it is critical to make the right choice. Get this wrong and it can severely disrupt your progress in the market. 

Do not rush in, take your time to assess potential candidates, talk to more than one. Visit them, get a feel for the company, who their customers are. Do they really specialise in your market sector? 

Here are some top tips to finding the right distributor:

  • Research into the market to see if any names keep coming up. Is there a stand-out candidate company you would really like to get on board?
  • Ask around. Let the market know you are looking and ask for recommendations.
  • Check with potential customers if they would recommend anyone. 
  • Look at the exhibitors or delegates at recent or future conferences. 
  • Check the advertisers in relevant magazines or journals. 
  • Look at the members of any relevant trade association. 
  • Do a web search. 
  • Ask for support from the Commercial section of your embassy in the country.
  • Check who your competitors use. Could they be tempted away?

In short, look at all possible avenues to create a target list of names to contact and explore. Approach them with details of your product or service. Evaluate them to shorten the list to those who show the most interest, combined with the required market presence and potential.

It is very important to choose carefully. This distributor will be the face of your company in the market. You may well be judged by who you are associated with. Make sure they have a good solid reputation and a long-standing interest in your market.

Also, look at their existing portfolio of products or services. Who do they already represent? Are they complementary or competing? Are they operating in the right market sector? Do they appear to have a lot of products already for the resources at their disposal? Is this a concern?

A well-connected representative can be worth their weight in gold in helping you make entry into the market. With the right connections they can fastrack you in front of the right customers, but beware those who promise amazing things when in reality they are either already fully committed, not in the right market space or have conflicts of interest.

It is not unheard of for a supplier to be tied up for years with a distributor who either cannot, or deliberately does not, market it aggressively. Be wary of those who profess to be well connected or related to the Prince or Government Minister.

Once you have narrowed it down to one or two potential companies, suggest a loose working relationship to start with until you are both sure you are a good fit. See if they produce the goods, open the right doors and hopefully secure some orders before rushing into an exclusive or long-term contract. Remember making the right choice is critical to the success of your market entry strategy. It can be a complicated and time-consuming process. For this reason, we developed our PartnerTrack service to lead the search and help select the right partners for their business.

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New Year, new rules for UK importers

Welcome to our first Expert Exporter Newsletter of 2022. Just a month into the year, and what a busy month it has been. Full of new rules for importers into the UK. 

1st January saw a number of new challenges for any UK or International company looking to import goods into the country. To help clarify the changes we have produced a FREE 7 KEY CHALLENGES TO TRADE POST-BREXIT download, which covers in detail the areas you need to be aware of and to plan for.

We are also presenting a series of Webinars for The Cabinet Office and Enterprise Nation explaining the changes which you may find useful.

HS Code

Everything starts with the HS Code which defines your product for customs and determines duty rates, licences, approvals, procedures etc. Following a review by the World Customs Organisation some HS codes have been changed, so check yours now to make sure it is still correct.

Customs Declarations

In 2021 importers to the UK could delay full customs declarations by up to 175 days. This easement no longer applies in 2022. Importers must therefore ensure they have the required information at hand to make a full customs declaration at the time of import. No declaration, no import!

Rules of Origin 

To claim preferential rates of duty under the UK-EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement it is now necessary to hold supporting evidence of the true origin of your products. This means documents such as a Suppliers Declaration. Without evidence, duty may well be applied and could even be backdated.

Pre-Notification of Imports 

Animal or plant products now need to be pre-registered on the new IPAFFS (Import of Products, Animal, Food, Feed System) IT system before entry into the UK. All required certificates & licences are needed. There are increased controls at ports and from 1st July special Border Control Posts will be used.

Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) 

Hauliers and businesses transporting their own goods through major ports need to register with GVMS and pre-register movements in/out of the UK to receive a Goods Movement Reference (GMR). No GMR, no crossing the border!!


The way VAT is accounted for on imports and exports is an important change post-Brexit and requires careful consideration. There are different rules for B2C and B2B which can affect supply chains and distribution methods. Ask for advice to find the best solution for your business. 


Incoterms define who is responsible for what in an import/export transaction such as customs declarations, VAT, duties & freight costs. Agree terms carefully and understand the implications. Mistakes can be expensive and lead to unnecessary administrative burdens.

There is a lot more detail on each of the 7 challenges in our FREE download. We also offer a range of cost-effective support, from answering a single question through to a complete review to help implement the most efficient operating model for your business. 

With the right planning and support the challenges are surmountable and once conquered will open up a whole world of new opportunities for your business.

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Season’s greetings from Go Exporting

Season’s greetings everyone!

Thank you for following Go Exporting in 2021 and for all your support. We hope you have found our content useful for your export journey this year. Look out for more interesting articles, tips and export guides next year.

To all our clients, thank you for your valued custom this year. It has been a pleasure working with you, to help you to profitably expand into international markets and manage the Brexit transit.

We look forward to working with you all in 2022.


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The Expert Exporter: Rules of Origin, Customs Declarations and your Lunch & Learn invite

Welcome to the final Expert Exporter Newsletter of 2021. Hard to believe it’s nearly the end of the year! What an eventful 12 months it has been, with Covid and Brexit impacting on business. Yet the world still spins, and some prosper, making the most of new opportunities, whilst others struggle to come to terms with the challenges. 

At Go Exporting we have been extremely busy supporting many clients through the challenges of Brexit, helping others expand into new international markets, providing webinars and training on exporting, working with the likes of Alibaba USA, Enterprise Nation, Business Wales, the British Library, trade associations and banks. 

We are proud to have been voted one of the Top 5 Export Consultants and Top 50 Advisors of any category by Enterprise Nation.  

Thoughts now turn to 2022 and what the New Year will bring. Covid is still with us, and it looks like we’ll have to learn to live with it, carry on regardless. The challenges of Brexit remain and with the rules tightening in 2022 there seems no let up. 

In our last newsletter, we looked at Rules of Origin, that they will be more strictly enforced and how businesses need to be prepared to prove the provenance of their products. If you have not already looked into this, there is no time to lose. 

For further information, we are running a Lunch and Learn with Enterprise Nation on this subject on 14th December. Register via this link

For UK companies, 2022 also means Customs Declarations will become due at the time of import. The ability to delay declarations for 6 months, introduced by the Government to ease the EU exit for importers, comes to end. Are you ready? Have you submitted all your supplementary declarations for this year? HMRC is starting to chase down missing declarations and you may incur duty and other costs if you have not completed yours in time. If you are struggling to submit in time, we can help. 

More than anything though, here at Go Exporting we enter 2022 with a sense of anticipation and excitement at the world of opportunities opening up for exporters. The time is now right to look to new markets, evaluate the prospects and set a path to international expansion. 

This week we ran a webinar on the opportunities in the often-overlooked Switzerland market with our official Swiss partners, Prodigo. The Swiss economy has already bounced back to pre-Covid levels and it offers one of the highest levels of disposable income in the world. Next year also sees the removal of import duties on many industrial imports, so now really is a good time to look at this market. If you missed the webinar you can view a recording on our website. 

It just remains for us to wish you a very Merry Christmas and an extremely Prosperous New Year – with the help of Go Exporting of course! 

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SIITACE launch announcement

At last! A voice for independent international trade & customs experts! 

Launched this month is a new Society of Independent International Trade And Customs Experts – SIITACE.

This represents a new, fresh approach to looking after the interests and values of this vital independent sector.  Specifically offering real help to the International Trade Community through our founding members specialist knowledge and experience covering all aspects of overseas trade including promotion & market entry; business support; international sales and marketing; customs; tax & vat; warehousing; trade finance; and logistics.

“I am proud to be a founder member of SIITACE. The opportunity to work and share ideas with fellow independent trade advisors is sure to be a great bonus to us individually and as a sector. It provides the ability to speak as one voice to influence government policy on exports and provide expert support to UK businesses in their drive to expand internationally following the exit from the EU”

Who runs SITTACE?

SIITACE is a Community Interest Company established to encourage collaboration and best practice within the international trade and customs disciplines. Our directors and founding members have many years of real-life experience in global trade and customs. We seek to attract a membership from all aspects of overseas trade beginning with experts in business support, sales and marketing, customs, tax & VAT, and logistics but growing in the direction our membership decides. It’s your society so, for that reason as we grow, it will take the shape needed to fulfil the business needs of international traders, importers and exporters. 

Freedom to offer impartial support and advice 

As a non-public sector organisation, not tasked to achieve government targets, we have the freedom to offer impartial support and advice to our members and to the wider international trade community.

Become a member….

Our members have access to the knowledge and experience of fellow members from all areas of the international trade spectrum. We are here to help and support each other.

Benefits of membership include:

  • Support of like-minded professionals
  • Access to our knowledge bank of resources
  • Opportunity to contribute to debate and discussion on how we can work together to improve the provision of international trade advice within the private sector.

Register your interest here.

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Enterprise Nation top 50 advisors 2021: vote for us!

We are delighted to let you know that Go Exporting has been selected by Enterprise Nation as one of the Top 5 Export Consultants and Top 50 advisors of any category in the UK.

This success is down to you, our valued customers and subscribers. We thank you.

The vote is now open to select the No. 1 Export Consultant out of the 5 shortlisted. Would you be able to spare a couple of minutes of your time to vote for us via this link?

Being voted your No. 1 would be a great honour and help us deliver even more expert exporter content. We are planning a Lunch & Learn Session on Rules of Origin, participating in a round table discussion on the impact of Brexit with customs experts from Deloitte and will host a series of free webinars in early 2022 for example.

Thank you for your vote and continued support!

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