The First Question to Ask a New Chinese Supplier

When contacting a new supplier in China, you will naturally begin with the most elementary questions first.

These questions will revolve around the supplier’s technical ability to produce your design. After that you proceed to discussions about business terms such as order quantities, prices, and lead time.

But before you start this dialogue, there is one question you should ask of every prospective supplier. It is so elementary it might not even cross your mind to ask, but believe you me: you will regret not asking should you discover later on in the process that the answer is “No.”

The first question you should ask of a new Chinese supplier is, “Do you have an export license?” You will be surprised by how many would-be exporters do not even have a license to export.

You might take it for granted that, if a supplier were attempting to do business overseas, they must have a license to get the goods out of China. Well, that’s an assumption you have made, and in the world of China sourcing, assumptions are your worst enemy.

There is a great likelihood that many of the suppliers you are contacting cannot handle the paperwork needed to ship your goods. So assume nothing about a new supplier, and start every conversation by asking each would-be exporter whether they have an export license.

In many cases, you will find that they do not have this license. Now aren’t you glad you asked at the start?