Aziz Rahman, of award-winning business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli, explains the value of taking precautions when looking to export.
Exports can be seen as a huge sign of success for a company. The fact that there is demand from other countries for what you are selling is a ringing endorsement of what you are doing and a valuable chance to boost your balance sheet. So it is always worth looking to find markets abroad. But it is important that this is done in a way that in no way jeopardises your business.
New markets can bring with them new situations: new business practices, different legal and taxation systems and certain expectations from trading partners or third parties.
It is important to identify these challenges and make sure that your business responds to them appropriately. Doing your homework – learning about the areas, the people and organisations you will be trading with – can bring huge benefits and ensure you stay on the right side of the law; both here and in any country where you are looking to do business.
One issue where a little thought can go a long way is bribery. Many countries are still rife with bribery. Recent years have seen some of the world’s biggest names – Rolls-Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, Cadbury, JP Morgan and AstraZeneca, to name just a handful – paying a hefty price for being involved in it.
Companies looking to trade abroad must introduce measures to make sure they do not, knowingly or unknowingly, become involved in either the giving or receiving of bribes. If this seems alarmist or unnecessary, it is worth noting that the UK’s Bribery Act makes it possible to prosecute any company with a connection to the UK for bribery that was carried out on its behalf anywhere in the world. Penalties under the act include up to 10 years in prison and unlimited fines.
It is, therefore, worth taking a few careful steps to ensure you do not fall foul of the act. Carrying out research about the bribery risks in the country that you are planning to trade in can help avoid any pitfalls. Assessing your working practices and introducing measures that will ensure bribery is prevented, or at least identified, will also reduce the scope for problems.
Such activities need not take up lots of staff time. And if you, as a company, feel unsure about how to carry them out, seeking appropriate advice from business crime experts can make such activities simple and stress free.
Exporting can be hugely rewarding and exciting for a company. Taking a few precautions can ensure that it is also stress free.
Aziz Rahman is the founder of Rahman Ravelli; a top-ranked business crime law firm in national and international legal guides.