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CHAPTER: Starting Up
5. Where can I find an intermediary to handle my export business?
  ANSWER: Export intermediaries can be found almost anywhere, particularly in port cities, but they may not be interested in working with you. Since they are doing the bulk of the up-front work, they tend to be selective in taking on clients. You should look for intermediaries particularly familiar with products in your industry, but you will also need to satisfy them that you are a worthy client. Here are several sources for locating interested and qualified intermediaries:

The Directory of U.S. Based Export Management Companies includes intermediaries searchable by product and location.

Your industry trade association -- Many trade groups have intermediaries as active members, or your association may know of intermediaries experienced in exporting similar products.

Trade publications -- Publications in your industry, especially the marketing magazines, will know of intermediaries in your product field.

Local federal and state export assistance offices are familiar with intermediaries in their area. As a potential exporter, you have the option to do it yourself (direct selling) or let an intermediary handle your export sales for you. The choice is usually based on the level of involvement and resource you are willing to devote to exporting and how much control you want over the process. In direct selling, you have full control and essentially do all the work, such as identifying and developing export markets, finding customers (buyers, agents or distributors), and dealing directly with the customers. In indirect selling, you cede some control to the intermediary, but avoid the burdens and complexities of doing it yourself. The intermediaries, such as Export Management Companies (EMCs) and Export Trading Companies (ETCs), already have the necessary experience and relationships abroad and will incur some or all of the initial costs to find you customers and generate orders. You mostly pay only when and if any business actually results, usually in the form of a commission based on a percentage of the sale. It is not unusual for novice exporters to start with an intermediary and graduate to direct selling as they gain confidence in their export potential and more familiarity with the process.


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