Today, we are interviewing Joseph Gopil. He has been involved in the supply chain and logistics industry for more than a decade and has extensive experience in trade compliance matters such as HS code determination, Customs valuation, and Free Trade Agreement utilization. Today, he works in an advisory role in a large multi-national company involved in FMCG products – that’s the industry where all the action is at!
1. Tell us about Globalior.com?
I co-founded the Globalior blog with a few like-minded partners, all experts in the trade compliance space. The driving force behind the blog was the idea that trade compliance is not rocket science. Still, trade compliance professionals all over the world tend to make things more complicated than they really need to be. We wanted to create a single source of truth for anybody to refer to. Sure, there are processes like HS classification that can get a little complicated, but this is more an exception than the norm. It is really not difficult to figure out the HS code for most simple products!
2. What do you mean when you say “compliance professionals make things more complicated than they need to be”?
Many compliance managers do not know ground operations very well as they have not spent enough time doing hands-on work. As a result, they make big decisions based on theory instead of practicality.
Let me give you a few examples:
The World Customs Organization designed the harmonized system nomenclature as a means for importers all over the world to assign a classification number to everything they import and export. When the WCO designed this system, it was with the intention of the first 6 digits being universal. However, although that is the intended design, there are some cases where this may differ due to different interpretations of the product descriptions in the local tariff books. A typical compliance professional will quote the need to use a uniform HS code across all countries and fight for the outcome regardless of the consequence, for the sake of compliance. In reality, all that is needed is to ensure that the HS code used is defendable in each specific country.
Another example would be the use of Incoterms® 2020, published by the International Chamber of Commerce. What are Incoterms? These are international commercial terms designed to simplify trade by providing a standard definition for obligations and allocation of costs, among other things. Compliance professionals often instruct their business and finance colleagues to follow the definitions of these terms without any flexibility. However, they fail to explain that Incoterms are not regulations or laws. Instead, they are commercial terms between buyer and seller that can be modified safely to some extent. However, this is usually discouraged for various reasons.
3. How does Globalior’s content help?
Today we are focused on publishing easy to read, explanatory type articles that present common supply chain and logistics concepts to readers who want to know more. These articles range from a basic explanation to tackling more complex issues. Even if a reader does not understand a concept fully after reading out articles, we hope that he or she will be able to ask challenging questions to drive better solutions for the companies they work for.
4. What kinds of concepts do you talk about on your blog?
We have published comprehensive articles related to the following:
1. Free Trade Agreements
2. HS Classification
3. Customs valuation
4. Customs procedures
5. Incoterms 2020
6. Transfer pricing and
7. Vendor selection
We have many more articles on our site, and we keep adding articles almost every day.
5. What keeps the team motivated to put in the hours to maintain Globalior?
We are looking for ways we can give back to the supply chain and logistics community by alleviating confusion and misconceptions. We believe that this is the best way for the supply chain industry to see progress and development in terms of efficiency. Today, many companies are spending unnecessarily on tools and processes that will never provide a good return on investment. In some cases, companies spend tremendous amounts on compliance solutions that serve no real purpose. This is true even for trending logistics solutions that promise to provide all sorts of visibility on every shipment owned by the consignee. We challenge that thinking – do you really need to know exactly where your container is on the vessel? For what purpose? Do you really need to set up an automated dashboard that tells you the moment your container is placed offloaded and placed on the wharf? This is information your transportation provider will be able to share with you with a simple phone call. The concept of control towers has been trending since 2017 with solution providers providing an ever-increasing number of bells and whistles with each iteration of marketing. But most companies do perfectly fine without it and don’t need it. We view this lack of awareness as a gap, and we want to fix it.
6. Tell us about a success story.
We actually do not take on clients except on exceptional circumstances and upon request. In one such case, we helped a customer decrease import costs significantly by reviewing the HS codes they were using for importation. We guided them through the process of getting Customs rulings to defend new codes with lower duties. This company had previously been trying to improve operational costs by adjusting pricing and purchasing automation solutions that they had mistakenly believed would allow them to reduce headcount.
7. Looking back, what is the one thing you wish you knew before you started this blog?
When we started this blog, we had assumed that most of our readers would be other trade compliance professionals or professionals in the supply chain industry. However, we soon realized that many readers were from procurement, finance, and even marketing or sales functions. They would send us all sorts of questions about our articles seeking various clarifications. We figured that this was because the language we had used in our initial publications was geared towards supply chain folks. We have since changed our writing style, so more readers understand our work!
8. How can readers connect with you?
Readers who are interested in working with us can always reach out via our contact form on the Globalior website.