Includes typical use of agents and distributors and how to find a good partner, e.g., whether use of an agent or distributor is legally required.
Many foreign firms in Pakistan appoint local agents to provide market intelligence and to facilitate distribution. These agents typically work on a fixed commission, which can range from two to 10 percent for plant and equipment purchases and from 15 to 20 percent for spare parts. Commissions may be computed on Free On Board (FOB), ex-factory, or Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) basis, as mutually agreed. Some agents prefer to have suppliers quote net prices to them and they, in turn, add the commission to arrive at their selling price. Other agents operate as consultants on a retainer basis, receiving their fee regardless of the volume of total sales.
Probably the most common arrangement is the exclusive agency agreement, under which the supplier agrees to neither appoint another dealer/distributor, nor to negotiate sales through any other party. In return, the agent is barred from handling similar items produced by other companies. Under this arrangement, the agent receives commissions on all sales of the product regardless of the channels through which the order is placed. The agent often imports and stocks replacement goods most frequently required by the end-users. Agency agreements typically extend for a term of one to three years and generally require 30 to 90 days’ notice by either party for termination.
Overseas suppliers may look after the interests of their local agents in various ways. For example, the principal may arrange separate payments to the local agent in order to provide after-sales service during and beyond the warranty period. The principal often compensates the local agent for providing technical and administrative support services not directly related to any specific sales transaction.
The Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) can provide assistance in locating potential agents and representatives abroad through its “International Partner Search (IPS)” and “Gold Key” services available through U.S. Export Assistance Centers in the United States. The “International Company Profile” (ICP) can provide background information on individual agents.