Methods of Payment in International Trade

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To succeed in today’s global marketplace, exporters must offer their customers attractive sales terms supported by the appropriate payment method to win sales against foreign competitors. As getting paid in full and on time is the primary goal for each export sale, an appropriate payment method must be chosen carefully to minimize the payment risk while also accommodating the needs of the buyer. As shown below, there are four primary methods of payment for international transactions. During or before contract negotiations, it is advisable to consider which method in the diagram below is mutually desirable for you and your customer.

Key Points
• International trade presents a spectrum of risk, causing uncertainty over the timing of payments between the exporter (seller) and importer (foreign buyer). • To exporters, any sale is a gift until payment is received. • Therefore, the exporter wants payment as soon as possible, preferably as soon as an order is placed or before the goods are sent to the importer. • To importers, any payment is a donation until the goods are received. • Therefore, the importer wants to receive the goods as soon as possible, but to delay payment as long as possible, preferably until after the goods are resold to generate enough income to make payment to the exporter.

Cash-in-Advance
With this payment method, the exporter can avoid credit risk, since payment is received prior to the transfer of ownership of the goods. Wire transfers and credit cards are the most commonly used cash-in-advance options available to exporters. However, requiring payment in advance is the least attractive option for the buyer, as this method creates cash flow problems. Foreign buyers are also concerned that the goods may not be sent if payment is made in advance. Thus, exporters that insist on this method of payment as their sole method of doing business may find themselves losing out to competitors who may be willing to offer more attractive payment...
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