- International trade practitioners need to be knowledgeable about the global trade environment, factors affecting it, rules and regulations and a host of practical issues related to international trade. They need to stay updated on the latest market dynamics, policies and practices.
- The job of a foreign trade expert is not limited to any specific segment such as marketing, documentation, shipping and packaging, or functions-related export management, pricing, sourcing, costing, export market research, distribution, freight marketing, export finance, documentation, and foreign exchange... It is a combination of all of the above and much more. With the opening up of the market, global trade barriers have been knocked down. A truly global marketplace has become a reality in both the physical and virtual realm. This has created immense opportunities in international trade. An expert has to be outwardly focused and open to adopting various strategies for survival and growth of his or her organisation
What do they do?
Today, we live in a globalised environment. And to survive in today’s highly competitive environment, it’s a must for companies to have expertise in foreign trade. Interested candidates can, therefore, explore career options in different domains such as international marketing, international supply chain and logistics, warehousing and inventory management, export documentation, currency trade, etc.
The challenge of meeting the requirements of global clients is very exciting. Manab Majumdar, assistant secretary general and head, Foreign Trade and WTO Division, FICCI, New Delhi says, “In this era of globalisation, the significance of foreign trade cannot be exaggerated. It is widely believed that trade is a critical engine of growth. Working in foreign trade gives me an opportunity to stay very close to policy-making, which makes this job really interesting.”
Sanjay Budhia, chairman, CII National Committee on Exports and managing director, Patton Group says, “India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The projected growth rate is eight-to-nine per cent, whereas Western economies are facing turbulent times. China is also facing internal problems due to overheating of the economy and creation of asset bubbles. This makes India the most favoured and exciting destination for global companies. These companies are looking for experts in foreign trade who can leverage their global experience. Also, Indian companies which have expanded their operations globally through acquisitions and mergers need foreign trade experts to run their business. On top of it, India’s exports have grown by more than 30 per cent in the last quarter. Hence, there are immense opportunities in foreign trade for prospective candidates.”
Many businesses are looking to enter international markets, so careers in international business are expected to grow at a faster rate. “From banks, to manufacturing firms to government agencies, almost all industries need people with a background in international business. Job opportunities are available in various industries such as shipping lines, freight forwarders, international courier companies, export houses, banks and agencies dealing with currency trading etc,” says Budhia. “Since most of the international trade is done through port and aviation, these professionals can work in airlines, cargo and global shipping companies. Foreign direct investment and economic development agencies also require these professionals. Moreover, they can also join the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors,” he adds.
Apart from the curriculum, one has to be familiar with various aspects of foreign trade such as trade logistics, trade finance, movement of foreign exchange, shift in composition and direction of worldwide trade, product-wise changes, etc. “One has to have in-depth knowledge of the country’s foreign trade policy framework, and competitive advantages of leading traders,” says Majumdar. The difficulties one can face while in this line could be “mainly the non-availability of trade statistics in time,” he adds.
- Awareness of practical issues, quantitative techniques
- Good domain knowledge
- Knowledge of trade policy issues
- Customer-centric approach
- Good communication skills
How do I get there?
There are several long-term and short-term courses offered by many institutions in India.
IIFT, ISB, IIM have specialised courses in foreign trade. Postgraduate courses in international business and supply chain management offered by top management institutes are also good for candidates looking for a career in foreign trade.
There are also short-term courses on export documentation and trade procedures.
Pros & Cons about this career
International growth Exchange rates Stability even in times of recession
High risk involved Credit risk Sacrifice of personal time