In internal trade, generally buyers and sellers meet together and transactions take place as per their convenience. But in external trade the situation is completely different. It
takes a long procedure to buy and sell the goods and services. The business people generally face a number of problems in the process of foreign trade.

  1. Distance: External trade involves transport of goods over long distances, except for neighbouring countries. Distance between various countries makes it difficult to establish quick and close trade contact between the importers and exporters.

  2. Greater Risk: In external trade goods are exposed to greater degree of risk. Risk in transit of goods is more because of long distance. Goods are transported by ship, which may sink due to storm or collide with submerged rocks. The ships or goods may also be captured by the enemies. These risks may be covered through marine insurance, but that increases the cost of goods.

  3. Difficulties of Transport and Communication: Long distances incidental to external trade create difficulties of proper and quick means of transport and communication. Though modern means of communication have solved this problem, it is quite costly and can not be used for securing all sorts of information. Loading and unloading of goods often takes long time and also involves large expenses which increases the cost of goods.

  4. Restrictions: External trade is subject to various restrictions by way of customs, tariff, quotas and exchange regulations, which restrict the scope of external trade.

  5. Lack of Personal Touch: In external trade, the transactions are made with unknown persons through correspondence and other means of communication. There is no direct contact between the buyer and seller. So the risk of dispute and bad debts are always there.

  6. Study of Foreign Markets: Markets for different products have their own characteristics as regards demand, intensity of competition, buyers’ preferences, etc. Thus, an extensive study of foreign markets is required for success in external trade. This is not easily possible from an individual exporter’s or importer’s point of view.

  7. Cost: Both import and export of goods involve very costly operations due to high cost of transport, insurance, intermediaries and cost of formalities to be completed.

  8. Change in Rules and Regulations: Every country has framed its own rules and regulations for its external trade, to protect its economic and political interest. These rules change from time to time. So the traders find it difficult to acquaint themselves with the rules and regulations and procedures followed by different countries.

  9. Frequent Price Change: In external trade the price of the product changes frequently due to change in foreign exchange rate, change in import and export duties, etc.

By foreign exchange rate we mean, the rate at which a unit of currency of a particular country is exchanged with a unit of currency of a foreign country.