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Research countries and choose destination markets

How to research current export market conditions

What you’ll learn

  • common market challenges which may affect your business
  • why trade barriers aren’t really formal barriers
  • the difference between market challenges and tariffs

Common challenges in markets

The impact of market conditions on your business will depend on where you're exporting to. But here are some of the most common challenges you may face:

Lengthy or expensive customs procedures

When you export to a new market, you’ll be expected to provide documentation for your products or services. In some cases, this can be a lengthy, complex or expensive process.

Rules and regulations

Each market has its own set of trading regulations and rules, which will vary in complexity. For example, you might find a country needs different labelling for your product than in the UK.

Environmental or safety standards

Your product or service will need to meet the trading standards of the new market. For example, you may find there are different standards on how you move hazardous or organic products, or those from animal origin.

Import quotas, restrictions and local content

There might be restrictions on how much you can export into a new market. For example, there are quotas which limit the importation of meat and dairy into some countries.

Likewise, some countries protect the number of products and services produced in their domestic market – often known as local content requirements. This may temporarily stop you from increasing your exports there.

Cultural and language

Differing cultures and languages can be challenging when entering a new market. But you can usually overcome this by working with local experts in the market.

For example, you may need to hire translators in a new country. And if you’re an online business you can work with local digital teams to understand the terms people use to look for your products or services.

Intellectual property

You need to make sure all of your products or services have registered trademarks and designs. For example, some countries will prevent you from exporting unless you have a trademark there.

External economic and political conditions

There might be factors you simply can’t control in a market. For example, if a country puts in place tariffs to stop their main trading rival from exporting into their market, these might also make it harder for you to export your products or services.

What is a trade barrier?

Challenging conditions in markets are sometimes called trade barriers. But these are not formal barriers, and in many cases they can be overcome as market conditions change.

Difference between tariffs and challenging market conditions

Tariffs make it harder for you to export, but they purely relate to government taxes and duties imposed on the goods traded.

Challenging market conditions (trade barriers) are more informal obstacles you need to find ways to overcome. For example, it might be initially hard to export until you're familiar with customs regulations in your chosen market.

You can use the Department for Business and Trade's trade barrier tool to check for any challenges in your chosen market, or report any you find.

It’s vital to have a really clear strategy and get good advice. Ask yourself, where’s the most accessible market with the least amount of market challenges? If you approach it the right way, you should have no problems exporting anywhere.

International trade adviser

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