Trade Consultant Role


In an ever-shrinking world and shrinking borders, it’s a comfort to know there are specialists who understand trade and can counsel appropriately.

Being a trade consultant is an exciting career path that requires knowledge of legislation and trade agreements, as well as understanding strategies for Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which is an international standardized system of names and numbers for the classification of commodities.“We help our customers be compliant with the rules and regulations of customs,” said John Quirke, vice president for trade consulting at Frontier. “Our role as trade consultants helps the company by educating our clients, which is a large part of what we do. We enhance the relationship with the clients.

“They know they can come to us and when they have complex questions or different kinds of importing scenarios or need some information on a new trade agreement with a country – or what have you – that we can provide them with information so they can run their business in a more streamlined manner.”

Trade consultant Sandra Gibbs said her job is project based and aims to help clients with audits, refund of duties, duty drawbacks, NAFTA qualifications, and any other customs work.“Multi-tasking for one (is a skill needed for this job) because we jump between projects all over the place on a daily basis. Strong communication skills (is another) because you have to write a lot to customs, to the clients, and you have to talk to everyone. You have to have a strong understanding of trade regulations, the (Canadian) Customs Act and related Acts and Excel,” she said.

The Customs Act is a piece of legislation governing the Canadian Border Services Agency. The Act ensures the collection of duties and controls the movement of people and goods into and out of Canada. Trade consultants and compliance specialists ensure clients stay compliant with the Act after a shipment has left a brokerage. “Brokers take care of shipments before they are sent to customers, while customs compliance officers do everything after the shipment is released,” said compliance specialist Jing Wang. “We do lots of duty refunds and duty drawbacks every year for our clients. We try to save them money.”

Duty drawbacks are a refund of certain duties, taxes, and fees upon the importation of goods. To qualify, one must show the imported the goods will be exported to another country or the goods are manufactured but will eventually be exported. Drawbacks can also be given when imported goods go beyond their natural shelf life, become obsolete, or become surplus. Both Gibbs and Wang promote getting an education in customs to succeed in their field.“You have to have a base knowledge (in everything) to be able to do it,” said Gibbs.

People are the foundation of Frontier and improving their knowledge is a goal of the company. Frontier will pay for employees to become certified customs specialists. Frontier also provides ongoing training for personnel and will pay for courses that benefit the employee.“We encourage people to get knowledge – we’ll pay for programs and courses for them to take, designations to go after, we’ll support our employees with that,” said Quirke.“We recognize the importance of our employees, we want to take care of them, we want them to grow with us, we want to grow with their support and we will help them become better employees and better at their job.”

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