What Is the Role of the Trade Compliance Manager?

Importers and exporters of all sizes have certain trade compliance issues that have to be managed by someone. At some SMEs and almost every international corporation, that responsibility is assigned to a designated trade compliance manager (TCM).

A TCM can be a member of the executive management team or a middle manager. In a small business setting, they might be an entry level manager tasked with overseeing an entire compliance team. One way or another, the TCM has to ensure that the company complies with all trade rules and regulations.

4 Main Responsibilities

A TCM may be responsible for any number of daily tasks depending on the size of the company and the team surrounding them. In the most general sense, the role of the TCM is to oversee all aspects of trade compliance ranging from product classification to sanction screening. More specifically, a TCM has four main responsibilities:

  • Process Development – A TCM develops processes and policies to ensure trade compliance at every level. Processes are developed for import and export classification, filing paperwork, obtaining licenses and permits, etc.
  • Program Implementation – Individual processes are implemented through compliance programs developed and adapted for each step of the compliance process. It is the TCM’s responsibility to implement those programs.
  • Ongoing Monitoring – Because trade compliance changes so rapidly, a TCM must monitor import and export controls, regulatory changes, tax regimes, and so forth.
  • Employee Training – The TCM is responsible for ensuring that all members of the compliance team are properly trained. When necessary, stakeholders outside of the immediate team may also require training. Compliance training is ongoing for most companies.

The role of a TCM in a small company whose imports and exports are limited to just a few thousand dollars per shipment is equally limited. It is quite possible that a single individual can handle everything having to do with compliance by themselves. But as the volume of imports and exports increases, the company needs more people working on compliance. A TCM manages them all.

Outsourcing Trade Compliance

The complexity of trade compliance is such that companies do not always consider it worthwhile to employ their own TCM along with a full compliance team. In such cases, they may outsource trade compliance to a specialized provider. Vigilant Global Trade Services, based in Shaker Heights, OH, is such a company. Vigilant says that outsourcing compliance is becoming more common as the complexities of international trade regulations escalate.

As with most other types of outsourcing, companies like Vigilant Global Trade Services can provide one-off services, a basket of services, or a total compliance suite. It really depends on the customer’s needs. In cases where companies choose to outsource everything, the provider often addresses technology in addition to processes and training.

On the other hand, some companies only need assistance with global trade technology. They turn to an outsourcing partner for hardware solutions, software solutions, cloud-based platforms, etc. Yet regardless of the amount of help that an outsourcing partner provides, there is still a TCM overseeing everything.

Not an Easy Job

Needless to say, the job done by a TCM is not an easy one. Doing it right requires a bounty of knowledge and a willingness to continue learning. It requires an aptitude for organization, time management, and problem-solving. Most of all, the role of TCM requires an in-depth understanding of one’s industry and all government regulations pertaining to it.

Global trade compliance is extremely complicated. It is a good thing there are professionals capable of fulfilling the role of TCM.

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