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Online Courses
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Online courses from the Institute of Export & International Trade:


Incoterms chart

Understanding Incoterms® 2010

This online course has been designed to help exporters understand Incoterms® - International Commercial Terms - and how to select the correct one for their international transactions. These global shipping terms have huge importance in the exporting and importing of products from around the globe. They outline the risk and responsibility between the buyer and the seller for each transaction.

This course covers all aspects of Incoterms 2010. It is designed for people who may be new to exporting plus experienced business people who may need to keep up with industry updates. During the course there are examples highlighting the benefits of using Incoterms both from an operational and commercial point of view. The course highlights why it is so important to understand each of these terms to ensure successful and efficient global business.

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Bite-size chunks

Our range of learning materials ‘Knowledge in Bite - Size Chunks' have been designed with a busy person in mind to help them learn one topic or specific area of international trade in more detail.

Each module entails approximately 2 hours of work, reading and assignments to help you understand a specific topic. They are easy to understand and have a wealth of knowledge that you need in day to day business life.


contract and pen

Bonds and Guarantees

Bonds and Guarantees are an increasing feature of international trade, as importers and exporters seek to reduce risks relative to non-payment AND non-performance. This increase is taking place across a number of business sectors and in businesses of all sizes.

In recognition of the increase this module shall provide details with respect to the different types of bonds and guarantees that support trade. For the primary types of guarantees further detail is provided, along with a summary of benefits.

The difference between Bank Guarantees, Surety Bonds and Standby Letters of Credit will be highlighted, along with discussion on risks, and legal pointers when dealing with these instruments.

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arrow pointing down

Currency risk management

Currency risk always arises in international trade, even for exports that are invoiced in sterling, where the risk is transferred to the overseas customer who may adjust their purchasing or sales terms accordingly.

The price of essential commodities, such as oil, and raw materials used in the business are also impacted by foreign currency exchange movements.

To help provide background this bite-size chunk outlines some of the history behind exchange rates and how these factors now impact in today’s world.

Most importantly the means of identifying and minimising the risks of foreign currency exchange movements are highlighted and discussed.

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customs document

Documents in international trade

This unit shall provide focus to the role that documents play in International Trade, specifically from a business and finance perspective.

When considering the documentation necessary it is important to consider several aspects;

  • Documents help to ensure payment
    - in some cases such as with a Letter of Credit they can be the key means needed to get paid
  • Documents are a crucial part of evidencing transportation
  • Documents can help to ensure and evidence quality control, whilst protecting the importer and exporter, for example in the case of an insurance certificate
  • Documents are a means of ensuring that all aspects of a business work to the same standard and the same timescales
  • Documents are a requirement of the Customs authorities of the importer’s country

Reference will be also be made on how documents can apply within the payment terms available in International trade.

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chart and piles of money

Factors influencing the profitability of a business

This bite-size chunk will concentrate on those factors which influence the profitability of a business. It will look at the categories of profitability and how they are influenced by approaches to:

- The Business Credit Rating
- Pricing of goods and services
- The costs of producing goods and services
- Measuring business performance
- Customer profiling and customer relationships
- Management of cash flow and provision of finance
- Efficient accounting and reporting processes

Whilst each business will differ – based on their specific needs – there are some key principles which should be followed and will be addressed in this bite-size chunk.

For a business trading internationally these principles become increasingly important when the additional considerations of distance, language, payment and transport are factored in.

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charts and globe

Financial and Management Reporting

It is possible for a business to view financial and management information as time consuming which adds complexity, time and money. Understandably some smaller companies may not have the time or specific expertise to produce reporting, with the likes of accounting and bookkeeping being outsourced to specialist providers.

Irrespective of who produces the financial information there are tangible benefits that can be derived from giving this area the attention it deserves;

  • It can help provide information which allows Directors and Owners to get closer to what is actually happening in the business, providing for a concise overview
  • It can improve what the external view of the business looks like, which in turn may improve how banks view a credit proposal and how customers and suppliers view dealing with a business
  • It provides an historic, current and future view of the business

This bite-size chunk shall look at the types of information available, covering financial reporting that a business has to produce AND reporting it should produce. Reference shall also be made with regard to factors which should also be considered for businesses involved in international trade.

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keyboard with payment button

Letters of Credit

This bite-size chunk shall take a detailed look at Letters of Credit, what they are and the role they have to play in international trade, focusing in particular on the role of Documentary Letters of Credit.

For many years Letters of Credit have played a key role in facilitating international trade, reaching all parts of the world. A lot of the traditions associated with Letters of Credit still apply today and when coupled with enhancements to banking services and electronic commerce, this provides for an important method of settlement, without which international trade would NOT function successfully.

It is vital for students, employees and businesses to understand the process of how Letters of Credit operate, and how associated financing, security of payment and best practice in working capital can be achieved. This module will provide the basis to support this understanding.

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Managing the risks in international trade

Risks will exist in any business, irrespective of its size, business sector or countries in which it trades. What each business must do is identify the areas in which risks exist and detail the actions necessary to mitigate (reduce) these risks.

This bite-size chunk will look at the risks in international trade, how they arise and how they can be managed effectively – especially in the environment of international trade where additional risks will arise through differences in:

  • Culture
  • Language
  • Distance
  • Less knowledge of overseas markets and fluctuating exchange rates

Specific information will be provided relative to Incoterms and the role they play in international trade.

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payment methods

Methods of payment

Once terms of trade have been agreed between buyer and seller the next steps in the payment process will be to ensure that actual payment is received;

  • On Time
  • For The Amount Due, and
  • Without Delay

Whilst the payment process is more clearly defined in certain terms of trade, such as Letters of Credit and Documentary Collections in others such as Open Account and Cash Up-Front it is less clear. This potential lack of clarity, in turn, can lead to delays, distrust and ultimately impact trading relationships.

This bite-size chunk shall look at the payment methods that apply to UK and International Trade, and what steps can be taken to increase efficiencies in the payment process. To understand how international payments work it is beneficial to first understand the types of payment operating in the UK – before moving on to payments made internationally.

The importance of the payment processes and options should not be underestimated – a high majority of UK and International Trade is settled by these different payment forms. Understanding how they operate and what can be done better will go some way to improving efficiency, and eliminating distrust between buyer and seller.

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piles of coins

Sources of business finance

This bite-size chunk will look at the sources of business finance available. For a business the objective is not just to obtain finance, it first needs to identify if finance is required and then it should also include obtaining the correct type of finance on competitive terms.

Reference shall be made to circumstances in which a particular type of finance can be identified, and the means by which it can be successfully applied – helping choose from the range of finance options available.

Whilst the finance needs of a business may be met from a combination of sources it is important that a meaningful proportion of the money is provided by the owners of a business. The existence of permanent capital invested will increase the confidence of potential lenders and investors.

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The working capital cycle in international trade

The working capital cycle is the period of time which elapses between the points at which cash is used in the supply/production process, to collection of cash from a customer.

  • Supply Costs
  • Employment/Contractor Costs
  • Registration of Intellectual Property
  • Production / Stock Modification
  • Ongoing Overheads -rent, rates, electricity etc.
  • Sales and Marketing costs
  • Cash OR Credit Sales

In international trade the impact of the working capital cycle can be greater as a result of;
1. The time involved in receiving and shipping (transporting) goods from/to more distant suppliers and customers
2. Potential delays in releasing goods through Customs, where for example the correct documentation such as a Certificate of Origin, or Inspection Certificate has not been provided. The rules around documentation requirements are often strictly enforced by the Customs authorities of the importing country, who want to ensure that legitimate goods are entering the country, and that the correct level of duties and tariffs are collected.

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Key decision areas & international market segmentation

Organisations can sell their goods and services to international markets. They will need to carefully select which market they can export to and also which product or variation of their product would be best suited for a country.

Many aspects of sales and marketing will need to be adapted (pricing, distribution, packaging, marketing communication etc). Different cultural and legal systems may have a considerable impact on the way business is conducted within a country.

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Planning issues to consider in international trade

In this unit the learning objectives are evaluation and analysis of:

• what is meant by centralised and decentralised decision making
• the three types of centralisation that an organisation can undergo
• the implications of the decision-making format for the factors of control and influence
• the current issues of advertising, price, logistics and research to the international marketer dealing with the issue of decision making strategy

The issue of to what extent export management is centralised or decentralised is a major decision. In smaller businesses it is almost invariably centralised.

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Sources of information and international marketing research methods

On completion of this bite-size chunk the successful student will be able to:

  • Explain the significance of the marketing concept
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how customer needs are identified and the classifications of goods and services
  • Describe the component elements of the marketing mix and the factors effecting management decisions in formulating marketing plans
  • Identify demographic and technological changes and how they effect the demand for goods and services
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the environmental influences on international marketing
  • Explain the rationale for market segmentation in international marketing.
  • Identify and use relevant sources of information and appropriate methods of collection
  • Conduct effective research and analyse and present the results of such research

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Strategic factors affecting international marketing

In this unit the learning objectives are:

1. Evaluation and analysis of the main strategic issues involved in developing a marketing strategy
2. Analysis of the various types of trading environment
3. Reflection on the theory of comparative advantage
4. Evaluation and analysis of the different types of trading agreements
5. Evaluation and analysis of pricing and quoting considerations in international trade
6. Evaluation and analysis of the issues involved in payment in international trade

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Strategy generation and strategy choice

In this bite-size chunk the learning objectives are:

1. Evaluation and analysis of the difficulties involved in international trading that complicates strategic planning

2. Evaluation and analysis of the three strategic options open to firms that have decided to enter international trading

3. Evaluation and analysis of the pressures that strategies impose on firms

4. Analyse of the importance of maintaining corporate identity in strategic planning

5. Analyse of the importance of drawing up strategy for 1 year and 5 year periods

6. Evaluation and analysis of the roles of management in forming strategy

7. Evaluation and analysis of the factors involved in implementing a marketing strategy

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The marketing of products and services internationally

This bite-size chunk covers the following topics:

Marketing of services internationally

  • Popular services in the international market place
  • Marketing internationally
  • Service characteristics and marketing
  • Implications

Marketing products and services internationally

  • Concerns for the marketer
  • Marketing management
  • Product policy
  • Branding
  • New Product Development
  • Process Development

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Customs export and import procedures

This bite-size chunk outlines the current functions of the Customs authorities in the UK. Their role in export and import licensing and the policing of tariff agreements is described. Export clearance procedures and the necessary customs declarations are discussed, and the growing computerisation of Customs systems.

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Incoterms 2010

This mini-module introduces Incoterms 2010 and explains the reason for their development. The four classes of Incoterms are described and then each Incoterm is discussed, with examples to highlight areas of importance.

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International trade and shipping terms

This bite-size chunk introduces a range of relevant sources of information, including a comprehensive list of web sites.

It also introduces the specialised language of international trade operations and includes a glossary of technical terms, abbreviations and acronyms which should be a useful reference.

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Marking of goods, marine insurance and cargo insurance

On completion of this module the successful student will be able to:

  • Use appropriate technical language in relation to export/import procedures
  • Identify the merits of the different modes of transport and the factors relating to the choice of transport
  • Select and organise the most cost-effective means of transporting goods to, or from, an overseas country.
  • Organise and manage the administration of a company’s export and import procedures
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the commercial, financial and official forms that are used in international trade;
  • Comply with all statutory requirements of Customs authorities for both exports and imports
  • Explain the need for the correct packing and marking of goods with particular reference to dangerous goods
  • Arrange appropriate cargo insurance for international consignments
  • List the different Incoterms and be able to recommend the most appropriate term(s) to be used for a company’s international business

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The role of documentation and transport documentation

This mini-module covers the beginning of the export sales process, establishing the contract of supply, the progressing of the order and arrangements for shipment and the documentation related to those processes.

The process covers:
1. Receipt of enquiry and submission of quotation
2. Receipt and acceptance of order
3. Progressing of the order
4. Pre-transport procedures
5. Transport documentation

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An introduction to law

This bite-size chunk covers the following topics:

  • Public and private law
  • The Courts of Law
  • The sources of law; statutes, cases, E.U. law, custom, delegated legislation

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It is natural for an individual to make offers, bargains and promises, which sometimes they later regret. Contract law has developed to determine which of these are binding commitments, how doubts over their interpretation and problems in their execution are to be resolved, and how they are to be enforced. Increasingly it also regulates the terms permitted in certain contracts, protecting weaker parties at the cost of some ‘freedom to contract’.

Thus we look in this bite-size chunk at the following main topics, in this order:
- formation of contract
- the contractual relationship and other obligations
- discharge by performance or breach
- remedies
- other jurisdictions

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Key economic factors to consider in the business environment

This bite-size chunk covers the following topics:

The Economic Environment in which business operates.

How the Business Environment Has Changed in Recent Years

  • An Increasing Level of World Trade
  • Commodity Prices
  • Fluctuating Exchange Rates
  • The impact of the growing middle classes, globally, with increased purchasing power

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Market structures, production, supply and costs

Markets are places where buyers and sellers come together to agree prices. Markets can be physical in terms of buyer and seller meeting to agree the terms of sales, or they can be virtual by means of emails, electronic documents and secure messaging.

In a market system everything has a price which is the value of the product in terms of money. The price involved is significant for it sends signals about demand - higher prices will encourage greater production.

This bite-size chunk covers market structures i.e.:

  • competitive markets
  • monopolistic markets
  • oligopolistic markets

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Sale of goods & services in international trade

This bite-size chunk will cover:

  • Sources of law
  • Businesses and Consumers
  • Context of these provisions
  • Territorial application
  • General points
  • Special terms implied into contracts under SOGA etc
  • Excluding the terms implied by SOGA etc
  • Consumer’s rights against Business 
  • B2C transactions with overseas element
  • Passing of property and risk
  • Delivery
  • Acceptance and rejection
  • Remedies for breach of contract for sale (or supply) of goods
  • Remedies for breach of contract for services
  • Sale of goods law in non-UK jurisdictions

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Why trade and UK trade

On the surface it would seem fairly silly to waste resources shipping goods all over the world when, in theory each country could simply make its own and satisfy its own consumers at the same time as providing plenty of jobs.

The reality is, however, that we are shipping more and more produce and goods around the world, for example we fly food from South America to British supermarkets, and we import door hinges from Italy. So why trade?

There are two main underlying types of trade:

  • the first in which the receiving country either cannot produce the goods in question or where they do not have enough of them (they are not "self-sufficient")
  • the second, in which they are perfectly able to produce the goods but still import them.

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The World Trade Organisation Explained

On completion of this bite-size chunk the successful l