Doing business with any Asian country carries risks, but if you do your research well, trading with Asian businesses can be highly profitable. All you need to do is take certain precautions that are specific to the country, and you will find doing business in Asia is not as thorny as it seems to be.

It is important, however, for those in the US who are planning to trade in merchandise from Hong Kong to note that it is a free port that thrives on free trade. It is not the same as doing business with mainland China.

Fortunately, the trading environment in Hong Kong is somewhat different from that of mainland China. Hong Kong currently acts as an intermediary between China and the West, and has somewhat of a laissez-faire attitude and legal structure in place. This means transactions between private parties in Hong Kong are free from state intervention, and that includes any restrictive trade practices like taxes, tariffs and trade monopolies. This provides it with an edge over Mainland China in respect to trade, including Internet trading.

Even if China has recently introduced new e-government and e-business programs to help it push the economy, Hong Kong is still one up. Hong Kong on a stand-alone basis is quite high on e-readiness rankings as graded by The Economist Intelligence Unit. It ranked second in the world in 2008 only behind the US. The rankings are based on six criteria: business environment, social and cultural environment, legal and policy environment, infra structure and supporting services.

This is a fair indication that it is ahead when it comes to the ability to use information and communication technologies, which should be reassuring to entrepreneurs from the US who wish to trade merchandise from Hong Kong.

Nevertheless, there can always be some hiccups when buying merchandise from Hong Kong. Traders need to tackle these head-on if they want to expand their frontiers beyond the US. Here are some important pointers to know before plunging into buying agreements with Chinese dealers.

Delivery Time

If you are, buying goods, specifically from a wholesaler, check out the availability of the stock. Quite often, when you buy from Hong Kong, your merchandise can be on the waiting list with delivery that you don’t like. Buy directly from the factory instead to get shipping advantages. This way, you avoid costs of transport from the port of entry to the distributors’ storehouse.

Check For Spares

Getting spares can be a drawback when buying merchandise from Hong Kong. Check for spares. As a test case, ask for a vital replacement component. You would not like to sell your products back in the US without being able to store adequate spares.

Ensure A Warranty

Many petty traders seem to skip warranty in many cases. Merchandise, especially electronics, look to be great bargains, so check out the guarantee issue. There is nothing like an international warranty. On the other hand, local guarantee is okay if you visit Hong Kong often. However, be wary of no warranty; it makes good business sense to draft up your own warranty and negotiate it with Hong Kong traders.

Authenticate The Dealer License

This is a vital step. You may have verified goods from Hong Kong, but it is important to verify that the dealer has a valid license.

Other Issues

When buying goods in the US, consumers expect certain standard conditions. Some traders may push sales whatever way they can. A sensible way to protect your business when buying products is to get everything in writing. In addition, also check on a money-back guarantee and a factory recall agreement. Many dealers in may not have any of these, though.

Finally

Buying merchandise from Hong Kong can carry some risks, but if you are well-prepared and informed, the advantages outweigh the cons. After all, Hong Kong has a free trade policy so it does not charge tariffs on importation and exportation of goods. Besides, import and export licensing is kept to a minimum.

Hong Kong is destined to become one of the world’s largest trading economies. There is no reason why you should not leverage this potential while buying merchandise from Hong Kong to sell in the US.