In the current Global Business paradigm outsourcing and purchasing from international vendors is the norm in Corporate America. Even small and medium sized businesses must be thinking here to trim costs, remain competitive and survive. With these truths unveiled perhaps I might be so bold as to recommend a very good book, on International Purchasing:
"International Purchasing Handbook" by James M. Ashley - 1998.
There are almost too many traps to consider in international purchasing. This book spends quite a bit of time explaining how global sourcing in the Pacific Rim, must be understood by international purchasing agents if they hope to succeed. Finding experts is paramount and understanding how these suppliers think is too and that is before you even get into language barriers, legal barriers, tariffs and getting payment to them or receiving payment. How to use brokers, clearing houses, freight forwarders and trading companies are clearly defined in this book with case studies, examples and warnings.
Importing on your won, there is a whole chapter on commercial invoice, certificates of insurance, certificates of origin and payments in accordance with importing rules and regulations. There is also a chapter on developing a sourcing plan, finding international sources and making international relationships; empathy, understanding, history, etiquette, friendliness, and how to win and dine. Sub-chapters on Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea, with topics on Southeast Asia, Europe - both East and West. Some discussion on Middle East, Israel, and Latin America too.
Learn how to negotiate with foreign partners and suppliers. How to negotiate with various cultures and how to document tactics, all key to international purchasing and well defined in this work. The book is filled with contracts and things you need to know when contracting once you have negotiated terms, more importantly how to enforce these contracts and how to consider the costs in every single clause of the contract. There is a chapter on various laws in international business as well as trade quota issues and explanations of International Agreements and Associations:
Next, the book describes the important issues of quality when dealing with foreign suppliers and how to manage accounts payable, letters of credit and managing of changing currency exchange rates. This is the best International Purchasing Book that I have ever seen and thus it resides as a reference book on my personal business library shelf. I recommend you go and find the latest printing a pick one up for yourself.