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About the Author

J. Anthony Hardenburgh
Vice President, Global Trade Content
Amber Road

J. Anthony Hardenburgh brings over 12 years of international trade experience to Amber Road where he manages a global team of international trade professionals who monitor and maintain the company’s vast amount of trade compliance content. Prior to joining Amber Road, Anthony served as Vice President of Global Trade Content for JPMorgan Chase Vastera. During his six years with the company he managed a global team of trade professionals responsible for supporting both its software and managed services operations. Previously, Anthony served as a Director for From2, a global trade management company located in Miami, FL. Prior to From2, Anthony served as an International Trade Specialist for the US Department of Commerce. As an International Trade Specialist he was responsible for counseling small to medium size exporters on exporting their goods and services. Anthony has a Bachelor in International Business from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and an MBA from Marymount University. 

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Supply Chain Comment

By J. Anthony Hardenburgh, Vice President, Global Trade Content, Amber Road

April 3, 2014

Global Trade: Why Content Matters

Successful Global Supply Chains Require Timely Access to Complete and Accurate Global Trade Content

Hardenburgh Says:

Global trade content should not only keep your company in compliance, but should also help the company run more efficiently and improve profit margins.
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Organizations buying or selling goods globally grapple with managing an extended group of global trading partners, a complex array of country-specific trade regulations, and a competitive environment requiring shortened cycle times and reduced global logistics costs.

Companies with strong global supply chains are able to quickly and easily perform country-specific compliance checks for imported and exported goods; streamline and manage the selection of global carriers, and instantly book and manage international freight; automatically track product, container and shipment level details as goods move around the world; collaborate with foreign suppliers; and lower costs by taking advantage of preferential duty programs.

Performing these capabilities, however, requires content.

What is content?

Content IS NOT data. Content combines logic with data, automating rules with data to keep companies in compliance. For example, calculating the landed cost of a good requires not only knowledge of the harmonized tariff schedule (HTS),  the duties and fees – among other pieces of information-- associated with the item, but also the applying algorithms  (the logic) to the information to calculate that cost. Similarly, simply knowing an Export Classification Number won’t tell you whether you need a license to ship an item. Logic that automates the destination/origin pairing, the reasons for control, and the exceptions, amongst other information, is required to make the appropriate compliance decision for government mandates.

Having access to HTS codes, import duty rates, restricted party screening lists as well as knowledge of regulations, licenses and the hundreds of other pieces of information required to do business overseas isn’t enough. Companies need a way to apply that information in a meaningful way.

How do you get content?

Content comes from well-trained trade specialists who have brokerage, forwarding, and legal backgrounds, as well as the language skills required to do business in the countries you trade with. These trade specialists must understand the country’s regulatory environment and be able to directly reach out to the appropriate government official when answers are needed.  On top of a global trade background, they also need in depth knowledge of your industry and its specific terms, whether it’s chemicals, pharmaceuticals, agricultural, automotive, textiles, etc... .On top of that, the global regulatory environment is very dynamic, requiring constant monitoring for changes.

Having all the necessary expertise in house is next to impossible to do as hiring experts is expensive and monitoring the regulations on a global basis is exhausting.  As a result, most companies turn to third parties. The best global trade management (GTM) software vendors maintain this content (logic plus data), automating the application of these rules and regulations to a company’s business, to enable it to comply with government mandates.  By using GTM software, the trade community can access content in a cost-effective way as vendors leverage economies of scale.


What happens if you don’t have it?

Obeying the trade regulations is critical and a company needs to know what the trade regulations are before it can comply. Non-compliance can not only hold up goods at Customs, but can also potentially result in fines, jail time, loss of export privileges, seizure of goods, and bad publicity. Additionally, time to market with seasonal or perishable products is critical. Delays could cause spoilage or missed opportunities, particularly with seasonal items.

Cost is a second issue. Being in compliance reduces cycle times, lowers inventory levels and warehouse costs. Utilizing a duty management program such as a free trade agreement (FTA) or free trade zone (FTZ) is a direct cost savings leading to higher profit margins.

How can you use it? 

Global trade content isn’t just the provenance of the export or import team. Logistics professionals, lawyers, security, purchasing, personnel, customer service, and other areas of the company can all make use of the information. For example, the logistics department can use global trade content to determine when and how to ship goods, and for how much. Purchasing can use the same information to determine from where to source their goods. Customer service can use the information to let customers know when their goods are due to arrive and security and legal can use the information to lower a company’s corporate risk. Because global trade content has so many uses, companies can justify its return on investment (ROI) to the C-level when budgeting for automation.

Global trade content should not only keep your company in compliance, but should also help the company run more efficiently and improve profit margins. Utilizing a global trade content platform – content accessible across systems and departments – enables a company to use this information in the most cost-effective and productive way possible.

What are some examples of companies that have effectively used global trade content?

Leggett & Platt, a diversified Fortune 500 manufacturer of engineered components and products, with 160 autonomously operating branches, used a global trade content platform integrated with its procurement, transportation management and warehouse management systems to realize a two to three percent product cost savings; centralize its import management functions; minimize data entry; and implement a unified and cohesive procurement process.

A second company, Haworth, a family owned, $1.4 billion global privately held company providing office furniture, adaptable workspaces and architectural interiors, was able to take advantage of NAFTA’s preferential duty rates, saving $1.2 million in duties and taxes; generate accurate trade documentation; and improve its supplier solicitation response rate by 80 percent, among other benefits.

Final Thoughts

A successful global supply chain requires timely access to complete and accurate global trade content. It is this content that powers the systems and processes needed to manage the ever-increasing complexity of doing business internationally in a competitive environment.

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