The Key Elements of An Effective Trade Compliance Program

Having described the most common shortcomings of an insufficient trade compliance program in a previous post, I’d now like to share five positive pointers that can be used to help ensure effective implementation of your company’s trade compliance program. Remember, a company-wide commitment and a similarly broad allocation of resources is necessary to implement a trade compliance program successfully, so picking and choosing which procedures to implement and which to ignore is not a viable option. Taking that route will result in a trade compliance program in name only, and won’t afford any real protection to your company.   Instead, make sure to keep the following key elements in mind:

  1. It isn’t enough to just train. Charles E. Duross, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s FCPA unit recently said, “Training is insufficient.” I would say training alone isn’t enough. To be compliant, companies actually must commit to a new way. Just like in sports and music, knowledge is a requirement, but you must practice. Compliance must be proactive to prevent violations.  No longer is “hope for the best and change after a problem is discovered” an acceptable risk profile.
  2. Embrace technology.  New project management formats are being developed to help compliance groups manage and follow legal obligations. The IT system must be set up so that busy professionals can’t hit “dismiss” and overlook a compliance obligation.
  3. Resources will have to be dedicated to the compliance effort. It isn’t an afterthought. Trade compliance must have a seat at the table along with other serious risks.
  4. Senior management must stay engaged throughout the year. A lot can be done by mirroring corporate wellness programs and safety matters.  “Compliance Minutes” and discussion groups are real possibilities. Everyone in the company has a role to play, and when each employee feels empowered, the company will benefit.
  5. Accountability. There is no way around this if you really want to improve compliance. Hold people accountable. Period. It works. (And the government likes it.)