Trade & Investment Leveraging Trade Policy to Help a
U.S. Company Go Global in a Big Way

The Challenge

When a Fortune 100 U.S. corporation completed a $1+ billion acquisition that gave it production facilities in multiple Asian countries, its leaders suddenly faced critical challenges. With its new global footprint, the company needed to quickly rearrange its international operations to take maximum advantage of new supply chain opportunities, production locations and proximity to new markets. Company executives also saw an opportunity to leverage the myriad bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) that together could impact their operations – and save significant costs – more than anything else. But where to begin?

Why CMI?

At C&M International, FTA’s are in our DNA. We were founded by the chief negotiator of the first U.S. free trade agreement, and are led today by a former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. We are trade policy experts who have a deep understanding of how these agreements affect supply chains and the opportunities and risks they present for any business operating in global markets. Our trade policy expertise can help create duty-savings opportunities, evaluate potential input sources, expand product or service delivery footprints, or embark on a new acquisition or enter a new market. And CMI is known for more than providing critical insight and intelligence. We have earned a reputation as a key partner in developing advocacy strategies to shape trade policy and negotiations around emerging issues and next generation technologies.

What We Did

Having minimal experience in the markets where its new acquisition operated, our client had an urgent need to prepare and execute a strategy for capitalizing on these new assets, as well as identifying further opportunities to fuel their global expansion. Company leaders asked CMI for a deep dive into the regulatory and competitive landscape they would be facing in the new markets, as well as into the range of opportunities that relevant free trade agreements presented for their growing global business operations. Here’s where we stepped in: 

  • Working with the company’s head of government affairs, we conducted a landscape study to assess the people and organizations our client would need to engage in each new market – regulators and other key government officials, industry associations, civil society groups, academia and think tanks, and other relevant stakeholders. We did this with an eye toward building effective government affairs strategies in each country to pre-empt regulatory challenges and position the client to maximize each newly-acquired facility as a regional or global export hub.
  • Next, the chief international counsel asked us to work with the global sourcing and operations teams to analyze these newly-acquired assets and other potential export hubs through the lens of getting product to their key global growth markets in the most efficient, cost-effective way. CMI experts surveyed all relevant existing and expected free trade agreements across the region, looking carefully at individual product tariff lines as well as rules of origin and other FTA provisions.
  • To this analysis we applied an extensive mapping and routing exercise of the client’s key product lines and their input and destination markets, with the goal of identifying clear opportunities for leveraging trade to achieve bottom line savings. Once the optimal trade routes were identified, we analyzed the regulatory regimes to determine whether specific regulatory barriers would need to be overcome in order to unlock these new opportunities.

The Outcome

With a deep understanding of all the major players and with our nimble logistical support, the company’s senior executives were able to hit the ground running, participating in a whirlwind tour of its new Asian markets to build critical relationships and lay the groundwork for future government affairs efforts. Over the next few months, thanks to our extensive analysis of their supply chain and the relevant trade agreements, business leaders were well-positioned to evaluate their sourcing and identify the most promising supply routes from a cost and flexibility standpoint. In cases where we identified a potential regulatory hurdle in one of their markets, C&M International helped the client quickly engage with regulators to resolve it, paving the way forward for business expansion.