Import agents or commission agents do not assume title to the merchandise. They receive commission from their overseas exporters as a sales agent. They carry catalogs and samples of exporters to solicit business from buyers. Import agents have very few employees — usually less than 10. They are not directly involved in financing imports or customs clearance.
(2) Import Dealers
Import dealers usually match a specific import with a specific purchase order from a domestic buyer. They take title to the goods. They import the goods under their own name and risk. They usually do not carry inventory. They deliver imported goods to their domestic buyers directly from the dock at a port of importation upon customs clearance. They finance their imports and are responsible for all im- port activities.
(3) Import Distributors
Import distributors carry stock of imported goods in a warehouse. They seldom deliver imported goods directly from the port of importation to their domestic buyers. They also carry parts and components for after-sales service. They advertise and promote their products. Many import distributors are owned by foreign manufacturers. They have larger staff and larger inventory than import deal- ers.
(4) International Trading Companies
International trading companies are global corporations that operate in sev- eral countries such as Japanese general trading firms (Sogoshosha). They have a worldwide network and conduct both import and export business internationally. Due to their excellent marketing and financing ability, they have competitive advan- tage in high volume transactions. In many cases, they also control manufacturing and distribution networks. By so doing, they accomplish the vertical integration of the product movements. International trading companies are the largest organi- zations in international trade.
When manufacturers find importing foreign raw materials or components more advantageous than buying from domestic suppliers, they also turn to import- ing in order to expand their supply sources.