What Is an International Trade Manager?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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An international trade manager is often responsible for overseeing all aspects of a firm or government's trade negotiations and policies — or just a certain segment of trade activity. These professionals often obtain at least a bachelor's degree in international business or international relations. They often seek to become fluent in one or more foreign languages as well, in order to improve their chances of nurturing a prosperous network of future business partners.

Cultivating overseas contacts with both trade officials and industry leaders is the cornerstone of a successful career as an international trade manager. This could work in either directionI. It could be drumming up export sales leads in a foreign country for a stateside manufacturer. It could also involve securing overseas products or services for domestic import and sales.

Some become an international trade manager for a firm that invests in certain kinds of products or services for import, export or both. For example, the oil industry could employ such an expert to secure an overseas market for the oil it produces. Other companies may be broader in scope, calling on trade managers to find any import or export arrangements overseas that could turn a profit. Most major ports and others types of trade hubs employ managers to oversee tariff implementation or to merely catalog what is coming and going for official tallies.


Studying foreign markets, trade barriers and emerging markets helps an international trade manager to understand the benefits of any particular business arrangement. When this information is committed to memory, these managers provide a firm with a far-seeing watchdog and generator of sales. An international trade manager may travel to key markets several times a year or stay planted in that foreign market, acting as a company or industry's front person and chief diplomat.

An education for an international trade manager often includes schooling in logistics, trade details, finance and culture. It also will delve into management and marketing techniques common to other countries, helping to give this professional an edge in negotiations and even casual relationship building. The concept of the world becoming a "global village" in terms of culture and business is a cornerstone of international relations education, providing future trade managers with the added knowledge they will need to win contracts and contacts with people who may not share the same beliefs, customs and history.


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