Different Countries = Different Rules

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I am often surprised by some questions and rants some readers have with regards to doing international business. There is not one established world legislation ruling above every country’s import and export legislation or all international finance.

Legislation Evolved Differently In Different Countries

The world is made of different countries with different rules, regulations and laws. Within each country the rules, regulations and laws for that country apply. Your country’s legislation does not apply to any other country. Another country’s legislation does not apply to your country.  Different countries have different rules.

When you first begin an international business you may be surprised at  how much the different rules in different countries can effect your business.

Here is an illustration everyone should understand. Disposal of nuclear waste is a business. The companies in this business have to comply with the legislation in any country the nuclear waste is transiting through. It is easy to understand that you wouldn’t want a nuclear waste truck to break down in front of your local primary school. But some countries have stricter rules regulating the transport of nuclear waste than others… or different rules.

Different rules evolved because in different countries there are different habits, different ways of life. Countries have different histories, they developed differently. We can safely assume that from their point of view their rules, regulations and laws are better suited to their country than yours are. And that these rules, regulations and laws may well be different, or approached differently, or interpreted differently, or carried out differently.

Here are two things an international business needs to do.

International Agreements

Check for any international agreements that concern your international business.

Although international agreements do work most of the time in making life easier for international businesses, they are not always straightforward and you would still be advised to seek appropriate legal advice.

Here is the problem:

  • Sometimes countries interpret these agreements differently.
  • Sometimes countries have different ways of operating or doing things, so agreements many not be so straight forward to implement.
  • Some countries do not sign certain international agreements.

This is why you need to check, and double check what these international agreements mean for your business. Be sure to use more than one source of information.  Here is one useful resource I found:

Research International Legislation

If you want to sell your product to an international market you need to do some industry research. You will need to check the rules and regulations in all countries concerned. Get as much information as you can from the relevant sources. And keep all of the contact details so that you know who to contact quickly in case you need expert answers quickly.

This research to learn more about the different rules and regulations in your foreign market is more important than you may think.  Of course, it helps you to set up your international business the right way.  But this research also helps you to deepen your understanding of your international clients.

Theses different rules are there because the culture is different. When you understand the reasons behind these differences, you have a stronger competitive advantage.

Check out the other useful International Business Resources – I add to this list as I find other links that could be of interest to you.  Please let me know if you have any others to add to this list.

Do Your Preparation

Although this may seem complicated, remember, it is your responsibility to know the rules, whether they are your rules, or the rules that apply to your foreign market.  You must ensure you comply with your own country’s import/export and international trade legislation, as well as that of all other countries concerned.

When you dig a bit deeper and try to understand the reason behind these different rules, you may stumble across the key to a deeper knowledge of this different culture. On a personal level, this new-found understanding improves your cross-cultural skills.  On a business level, you can use this to develop your international business.

  • What different rules and legislation have effected your international business?
  • When have you learned more about a different culture by understanding the differences in their legislation?
  • Why is it difficult to understand the different rules in different countries?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Photos from Shutterstock.

  Filed under: Cross-Cultural Communication


Cindy King



  • http://egoist.blogspot.com Martin Lindeskog

    Here is another source: International Commercial Transaction by Jan Ramberg. It is covering Convention on International Sale of Goods and Unidroit Principles of International Contracts.
    .-= Martin Lindeskog´s last blog ..Computer "Models" Don’t Necessarily Work?? =-.

    • http://cindyking.biz Cindy

      Thank you Martin. I have not added any books to my list of resources yet.

  • http://egoist.blogspot.com Martin Lindeskog

    Here is another source: International Commercial Transaction by Jan Ramberg. It is covering Convention on International Sale of Goods and Unidroit Principles of International Contracts.
    .-= Martin Lindeskog´s last blog ..Computer "Models" Don’t Necessarily Work?? =-.

    • http://cindyking.biz Cindy

      Thank you Martin. I have not added any books to my list of resources yet.