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How to Export to the Maghreb: An Interview with Cristina Danón

MG 12502 300x260With more than 25 years experience in international markets, Cristina Danón has worked as an Export Director and as a Manager for International Projects. She is well versed in the markets of the Maghreb where has introduced dozens of products with great success over the years. By answering a few questions, she will bring all her expertise to bear on the questions asked by many Spanish SMEs:

1- In your 25 years international experience, have you seen an increasing presence of Spanish companies in the Maghreb region?

Truth be known, the increase has been spectacular. Following closely on the heels of France, Spain is now the second most important supplier to Morocco. A clear indication of this importance is that, in 2010, there were more than 40 Trade Missions to Morocco. One must not forget Algeria, though it is still a country with “more basic” needs (products with a lower added value). It is a country that imports a major part of its requirements, ranging from food and construction materials to clothing. All of which must have a very competitive price/quality ratio. Tunisia is the smallest of the countries but is the most competitive in Africa. Their interest stretch to higher value technological products and is an important gateway to the Libyan market.

2 – Which sectors are those with the best possibilities or tell us about Spanish success stories in North Africa?

There are many sectors which offer business opportunities: from construction materials and the construction companies themselves; renewable energy; waste-water treatment plants, machinery, food ingredients; etc.

3 – What factors will ensure success in the region?

Personal relationships are paramount in all three countries, which means we have to take the long view when introducing our products and services. One must usually visit the same companies several times, assuming we consider them to have potential, as well as new ones each time. The goal behind these repeated visits is that of establishing a personal relationship with the people we meet. It is also important to adapt to the customs of the country which are often very different to our own. Study; get to know how to do business in a friendly atmosphere that is not the same as ours. Bargaining forms a daily part of doing business: it’s no good giving our best prices straight off the mark, you have to let the client obtain little “victories” as the negotiations progress. However, one of the more difficult things is to strike the right balance: not to start with prices that are far too high.

4 – What can International Team Consulting do to help companies enter these markets?

Our eminently practical experience of these markets means we can offer our clients detailed knowledge of the distribution channels most suited to an individual client’s product, where to find information, the safest terms of payment and how negotiations are carried out. We can, therefore, accompany the client from baptism in the market, finding those partners most suited to the product by adhering to a predefined profile and, should the client so desire, accompany them during the whole process of negotiation and daily management of sales operations in the country.

For more information on how to export to the Maghreb region, please contact us at: info@int-team.com or on (+34) 934 140 500 and ask for Júlia Farré or Cristina Danón.