As the world goes towards free trade by adopting internationals and inter-nations treaties that promote simplified formalities and exchange of goods, in spite of that, many immutable barriers remain while others keep surging.
Traders agree that severe regulations are one of the main obstacles which hinder their business often taking the shape of requirements applicable in the countries of origin and/or destination. Traceability requirements, the approved scientific versus commercial product identification, critical dates for certain goods, language labeling, and many more are examples of those regulations imposed on the importers and exporters. The consequences are certain to affect the volume of trade and the products access to many markets.
Alternatively, when such regulations are still mild on the trade operations, the lack of harmony in the applicable policies between the exporting and the importing countries present a different form of obstacles in this instance. A common illustration is when the trade involves grouping of goods destined for different countries where the operations could all the same be bound by the laws regulating the bonded warehouses and Free Zones.
The cultural aspect of obstacles is also widely represented by the mismatches between the demand and supply levels, quality or standards of the different nations. Today we constantly face the uneven quality of the same product in a market, resulting from the multiplicity of the countries of origin. From a personal perspective, I can cite the case of “Cadbury” products in the Lebanese market, where the distributor’s exclusivity is not forced, allowing the brand to be purchased from different origins and exposing buyers to irregular qualities.
It is certain that commercial barriers are continuously scrutinized and trade policies are being developed by countries sharing interests to facilitate the exchange of goods between them. Trade stakeholders need to acknowledge that culture reflects a significant challenge for them and that general behaviors and business practices are not the same everywhere else in the world. People’s cultural habits reflect their lifestyles, values, languages and ways of negotiations , which significantly increase the risk of failed business relationships with foreign partners.