How to Import from China

Learning how to import from China can be an exciting and profitable business if you know how to go about it. The key is to find products that can be made or found in China and then bought and shipped to the U.S. and other parts of the world for less than the price you could get people to pay for them.

Of course the opposite is also true. You could base your entire business on just export to China.   

Here are some tips for entrepreneurs who want to learn how to import from China.

The Import Export Business Opportunity


Business owners who purely want to get into the import / export business and those who already have an established business can both benefit by learning how to import from China, although for different reasons.

Of course the advantage for China import / export businesses is obvious.  This is true for entrepreneurs who have an established offline or online business and even for start-ups. You’ll make money by moving goods around the globe, taking them from an area where they are cheap to buy or produce to an area where they could be sold for a profit. 

If your business deals with manufacturable items, there is a good chance that they could be made more inexpensively in China.  Just be sure to factor in all of the costs involved in order for you to get a good estimate on the "landed cost".  Some of these costs could include sourcing, goods or products to be imported, product samples, production, delivery, quality control, freight, insurance, local charges, customs duty, and GST (government tax) amongst other things.

It is essential for you as an entrepreneur to fully understand these costs, so you can price your product (s) correctly and leave a sufficient margin to be able to run a profitable business.

Although it is no longer a general rule that it’s cheaper to produce items in China, depending on your product and how complex it is, the cost savings by importing from China could be significant. It could also be a strategic move for your particular business to import from China depending on where your market is located. Are you catering to the Chinese or Asian market in general, or is your market somewhere else, such as North America or the Middle East. You must look at all the costs and lead-times involved before you decide if importing from China makes business sense for you and your business. 


Choosing Products to Import from China

"Goodwill China Business" reports that the top major imports the U.S. receives from China are steel, paper and paperboard, electric motors and generators, furniture, textiles, toys and footwear. This is a good indication that the prices on these categories of products are competitive enough to make it worthwhile for American companies to import.

After you have selected which goods you would like to import, it’s time to make some connections with suppliers. Make sure that you distinguish between manufacturers and third-party suppliers. You’ll be able to receive goods more quickly (and sometimes more cheaply) from manufacturers than from third parties.

As you negotiate with suppliers, be sure to talk trade terms with them. The usual arrangement is for you (the buyer) to pay 30 percent of the overall cost when you place an order then the other 70 percent when your order ships. However these terms are always negotiable.

Ready, Set, Import from China!

Make sure that you get to know the U.S. (or your home country) trade laws before you order anything. The laws are quite complex. The Small Business Administration “Exporting & Importing” and the Department of Commerce “Import Administration” websites are two sites you will want to get yourself familiar with if you’re located in the U.S.  

It is advisable that small business owners who import from China hire a customs broker and forwarder to handle bringing your products into the U.S. and getting them to you. They will make sure all of the paperwork is in order so that you don’t break any laws when the goods arrive in the country.

It sounds overwhelming, but if you’re serious about it, importing from China could prove to be a very profitable business for you. 


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