September 22, 2023


A toy importer, thrilled about getting its toys from Vietnam at an amazing worth paid $2 million upfront to a supposed “toy maker”. The dream was a nightmare once they realized there was no such Vietnamese toy maker, and no toys would ever materialize.

This importer isn’t alone. Many international corporations have confronted comparable pitfalls because of insufficient counterparty due diligence when contracting with an abroad producer. This publish delves into these pitfalls and supplies clear suggestions on methods to sidestep them.

Know Your Counterparty: The Blueprint for Protected Abroad Contracting

Getting into right into a contract with an abroad producer requires you conduct meticulous due diligence in your putative enterprise accomplice. This contains confirming that you’re contracting straight with the manufacturing entity itself, relatively than with an offshore father or mother firm with no actual property. Vetting and absolutely understanding the corporate you might be coping with is among the most necessary steps for avoiding pitfalls down the street. This will likely appear apparent however overlooking due diligence ideas and/or contracting with the flawed firm has sunk many international corporations which have their merchandise made abroad.

Many corporations erroneously belief third-party sourcing businesses, fully disconnected from the precise manufacturing facility producing the products. Ought to points come up, corresponding to product defects or missed deliveries, these corporations discover themselves cornered legally, in a position to problem solely the sourcing firm they contracted with, not the core producer.

Equally, some companies contract with father or mother or holding corporations primarily based in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore. These entities typically possess minimal property, including layers of issues when in search of authorized recourse.

Earlier than contracting with anybody, it’s best to do your due diligence and ensure the occasion you might be paying just isn’t a shell entity or a sourcing firm with little or no property. As corporations migrate out of China for manufacturing, my legislation agency’s dispute decision attorneys have seen a spike in such third-party issues with rising producers globally. This third-party drawback is a matter all over the world.

Why Counterparty Due Diligence Issues

Many international corporations mistakenly consider that partnering with offshore holding corporations supplies added safety. Nonetheless, issues come up when these corporations can solely search recourse in opposition to intermediaries, or when these offshore entities lack property within the nation wherein the merchandise are being made. With out in-depth analysis you danger being left with no authorized recourse in instances of non-performance, high quality points, and even fraudulent actions.

Discover the Proper Manufacturing Counterparty

A direct partnership with the manufacturing entity is usually the most secure route. Offshore father or mother entities, usually devoid of great property, can depart you stranded with out authorized choices. Understanding the real company construction is pivotal. Correct due diligence uncovers the true company construction.

To solidify your abroad relationships, it’s best to take into account doing the next:

1. Authorized Identification Verification

Receive the enterprise identify of the occasion you propose to contract with. In most of Asia, it’s best to by no means rely solely on English names, which can differ from the corporate’s precise authorized identify.

2. Due Diligence Procedures

Conduct thorough due diligence on that actual entity, together with:

– Checking company registration paperwork to verify authorized possession and construction
– Reviewing monetary statements to evaluate stability and assets
– Verifying certifications like enterprise licenses are up-to-date
– Confirming the entity straight owns the related manufacturing facility/property
– Looking for litigation historical past or disputes involving the corporate
– Verifying the identify characters and English identify are constant throughout all paperwork.
– Overview historic adjustments in possession, administration construction, or firm identify. Main shifts might point out instability or danger.
– For producers, request copies of their manufacturing facility certifications and audit reviews to validate capabilities, however be sure to have an knowledgeable assessment these as a result of these are sometimes faked.
– For giant cash offers, take into account an on-the-ground audit of services and company documentation.

3. Working with Third-Get together Brokers

If contracting with a third-party agent, validate it has a stable monitor document and actual ties to the provider. Require ensures for efficiency. For extra on sourcing brokers, take a look at Sourcing Brokers When Manufacturing Abroad: The Lengthy Model.

4. Contract Negotiations

Negotiate protecting contract phrases like safety deposits, retention funds, and private ensures.

The Pricey Pitfalls of Counterparty Negligence

Efficient due diligence is paramount when navigating worldwide enterprise. Now let’s have a look at actual examples that illustrate the significance of counterparty due diligence. The next are simply a few of the real-world examples of corporations that bought in bother through the use of third-party sourcing brokers with out contracts to guard them or by not conducting enough due diligence earlier than transferring ahead.

1. The Bricks for Fish Supply

An organization, lured by the aggressive pricing of a Chinese language firm, eagerly bought a big amount of fish for his or her enterprise. Because the cargo docked in Seattle and employees started offloading, anticipation rapidly turned to horror. The preliminary layers of the container consisted of previous, unusable fish, however as they dug deeper, a surprising discovery was made. The majority of the container was full of damaged bricks, strategically positioned to satisfy the burden specs of the cargo.

This misleading tactic was a smokescreen. The delay in discovery, brought on by the blended cargo of bricks and fish, allowed the fraudulent Chinese language firm to dissolve its operations and vanish, however not earlier than duping a number of different unsuspecting consumers. This unlucky episode value the shopper each in financial phrases and status injury. It was a basic bait-and-switch tactic with a expensive aftermath. If the shopper had undertaken an preliminary, deeper due diligence on the seller, this unlucky occasion would have been averted.

Ethical: By no means pay anybody abroad until and till who they are surely.

2. The No Fish At All Case

A South Carolina firm, seeking to capitalize on the worldwide demand for fish, made a big order from what they believed was a good Qingdao firm. All the transaction was made extra advanced as that they had already pre-sold this fish to a British firm, making the well timed arrival of the cargo essential. Nonetheless, because the supply date neared, inconsistencies started to emerge. The Qingdao firm that was anticipated to ship the fish by no means existed within the first place; the whole deal was a facade.

This duplicitous transaction had a domino impact. The British firm, having not acquired their anticipated cargo, resorted to authorized measures, and sued the South Carolina firm. Upon reviewing the transaction paperwork, attorneys from my agency rapidly recognized a number of pink flags that ought to have been trigger for concern from the outset. This oversight not solely resulted in important monetary loss for the South Carolina firm but additionally entangled them in worldwide litigation.

Ethical: Scrutiny of all particulars is a protect in opposition to fraud and cascading repercussions.

3. The Non-Existent Toy Firm

American firm pays Vietnamese firm a pair million {dollars} to make a toy for it. Vietnamese firm by no means makes a single toy. American firm hires my legislation agency to discover choices for pursuing the Vietnamese toy producer. Our worldwide dispute decision attorneys have a look at the manufacturing contract and see that the signing occasion is a totally completely different entity than the Vietnamese toy producer with which our shopper thought it had the contract. It seems our shopper’s contract was with a “sourcing marketing consultant” who operated out of a $600 a month single workplace in Hong Kong. Skeptical of ever having the ability to accumulate from this firm, our shopper (correctly) chooses to not pursue litigation

Ethical: At all times confirm the authenticity and authorized standing of your small business companions earlier than parting with any cash.

4. The Delayed Christmas Lights

A few years in the past, an American firm known as us after simply having discovered that its two-million-dollar order of Christmas tree lights wouldn’t be delivered to the US till December. We known as the Chinese language manufacturing facility, they usually advised us that they had no thought who our shopper even was. It turned out that our shopper had unknowingly been utilizing a sourcing agent (we figured it out by some Chinese language language paperwork) and it had no contractual relationship with the precise manufacturing facility. To make issues worse, the Chinese language manufacturing facility was deliberately not producing our shopper’s order as a result of our shopper’s sourcing agent owed cash to the Chinese language manufacturing facility. Our shopper ended up having to pay hundreds of thousands extra to the Chinese language manufacturing facility to get it to ship the lights on time.

Ethical: Direct contracts with producers stop middlemen points and assist guarantee manufacturing precedence.

5. The No Treatment Manufacturing Contract

European firm will get unhealthy product from its Chinese language shoe producer and so refuses to pay the remaining $800,000 or so for the cargo. European firm then will get sued in China and retains my legislation agency to help. Seems that the lawsuit in China has been introduced by a Chinese language sourcing agent whose contract with our shopper makes clear that it will get paid for brokering every transaction, whether or not the transaction goes effectively or not. In different phrases, there would have been probability this sourcing agent would have prevailed in its lawsuit in opposition to our shopper as a result of it had fulfilled all necessities of its cope with our shopper, and the producer offering unhealthy product was irrelevant. These kinds of contracts are disturbingly frequent. Our shopper ended up settling.

Ethical: Contracts straight with producers ought to be used to supply clear high quality management necessities.

6. The Producer with out a Manufacturing facility

American firm hires out the alleged greatest United States producer for a specific sort of sporting items product. This U.S. producer advised American firm that it could make the sporting items product for the American firm in China. American firm agreed and inside a few 12 months it discovered that the American firm didn’t have any factories in China; it was outsourcing the manufacturing to an unrelated Chinese language firm. American firm discovered this after the Chinese language producer began promoting the American firm’s sporting items product as its personal. American firm additionally discovered that the Chinese language producer had secured a patent on the sporting good. This finally led to extremely costly litigation involving six lawsuits, one in China, and 4 in three completely different states in the US.

Ethical: Guarantee readability about your producers and all the time defend your mental property rights throughout borders.

7. The Falsified Certification

A U.S. complement firm was lured by an Indian firm claiming to have Good Manufacturing Follow (GMP) certification. Publish-production, the importer came upon the manufacturing facility’s GMP certificates was a faux, and the manufacturing facility was ill-equipped for his or her manufacturing wants, inflicting them appreciable monetary losses.

Ethical: Double-check all certifications and keep away from basing choices primarily based on the idea that your producer is performing in good religion.

Safeguard Your Pursuits When Partaking in Worldwide Manufacturing

1. Conduct On-site Verification

There’s no substitute for first-hand commentary. Visiting and inspecting a facility or workplace will provide you with an unfiltered view of an organization’s operations. Photos could be deceptive, and paperwork could be falsified. Standing on the manufacturing flooring and assembly with on-site administration provides insights that can’t be gained remotely. For those who or a consultant out of your firm can not make the journey, take into account hiring a trusted particular person within the manufacturing nation to evaluate the state of affairs in your behalf.

2. Verify the Precise Authorized Identification

This ensures you’re partnering with a authentic entity. Mistaking an organization’s identification can result in contracting with fraudulent or unqualified companions. Making certain you’re coping with the right entity from the beginning can save numerous complications later.

3. Conduct Rigorous Background Checks

By extensively vetting your potential accomplice, you scale back the probabilities of partnering with entities which have a historical past of fraud or misconduct. It’s higher to find potential pink flags earlier than coming into right into a binding settlement.

4. Confirm Direct Connections to Manufacturing or Operational Belongings

This affirmation ensures that your accomplice has the mandatory infrastructure to satisfy their contractual obligations. It prevents potential disruptions because of lack of assets on the accomplice’s finish.

5. Set Clear Contract Phrases

Clearly outlining expectations and cures for non-compliance protects your pursuits. In case of disagreements or breaches, a well-drafted contract can present authorized readability and safety.

6. Think about Third-party Verification

For those who can not conduct on-site checks personally, it could be smart to interact a neighborhood knowledgeable or company to take action in your behalf. Their native information and unbiased perspective can unearth potential points that may stay hidden to an outsider.

By diligently following the above steps for each potential accomplice, you’ll be making certain that you simply’re coping with respected, secure entities. The intricacies of worldwide contracts could be intimidating, however the fitting degree of due diligence drastically reduces dangers.


The distinction between a profitable worldwide enterprise and a expensive misstep typically lies within the degree of due diligence carried out earlier than pen meets paper. Investing time and assets within the applicable degree of due diligence will assist safeguard your monetary pursuits and defend your  firm’s status from potential hurt. Your upfront due diligence will prevent heartache down the street.