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In this podcast I interview Bill Nelson, one of a small group of Global Account Executives charged with personalized consulting for clients shipping product overseas. This division is called FedEx Trade Networks. And despite the formality reflected in the one highschool yearbook style photo Bill sent me for this post, he is remarkably accessible, straightforward and informal.

I have met Bill on a number of occassions at the U.S. Commercial Service’s Discover Global Markets events this past year. He is always sharing anecdotes that highlight the challenges our clients face. So it was only a matter of time before I sat Bill down and recorded his guidance and a few of his stories.

This podcast is longer than usual at 46 minutes. So we’ve highlighted a few take-aways and pasted the majority of the text below. To listen to the full podcast and view more content, click here.


  1. Learn your Harmonized System (HS) Code.  Harmonized tariffs work by using the same 6 digits around the world, the number and definition. Then each country adds 2 or 4 digits to that number to make it their own. This will allow businesses to understand duty and tax information.  Customers don’t want two or three bills, they want one, and to understand what it’s going to cost them when they make the purchase.
  2. Pace yourself.  Each new market may have different issues, so be careful about taking on too many markets at one time.  This will allow you to focus on solving one problem at at time and not get overwhelmed.
  3. Know your neighbor!  Start with Canada, as it is one of our largest trading partners and many of the lessons learned will be applicable for other markets.
  4. Use the 80/20 Rule.  Eighty percent of revenue is going to come from twenty percent of your products– Focus on that twenty percent that are going to make you money when you are entering into new markets.
  5. Get your information right–You don’t want to disappoint a new buyer.  Fedex has World Tariff, which is an online database. They have taken Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, Indian, German, we’ve taken all those import tariffs, translated them all to English, online on when you search ‘world tariff’.  A customer can buy a subscription.or just look things up for 7 USD each time. They can also sign up for the U.S. tariffs, which are complimentary on the site.

If you are interested in more information, contact his team at the Fedex Trade Networks Services at .

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This video and audio interview series and all content provided on this site are intended to provide a resource to U.S. exporters. Our content is continuing to grow, expand and adjust based on the changing and evolving market dynamics. It is not comprehensive. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service or the International Trade Administration. The Commercial Service and its collaborators have performed limited due diligence research; but we strongly recommend that you perform your own due diligence investigation and background research on any company or service we profile in this series. We assume no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the information and concepts described throughout our content.

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