New fish importers from Russia still have plenty of room to develop lucrative business with Russian fishing fleets
I want to say some words to the newcomers. Nobody expects you here, but there is enough room for everybody. Surely, every company has compiled a portfolio of regular customers. We know each other for a time, know what to expect, understand each other well. At the same time, everybody would be glad to establish a new sales channel, and will be happy to work with you if you propose better conditions than the others. If your conditions are the same - they are worse, at least because your reliability is unknown.
Don't pretend to be too smart. When you come to a new business don't pretend you know everything, better learn where you are. When someone meets people whose company works for long years, making a strict face and asking questions not even trying to conceal that you are investigating if the company is real, will lead you to no positive response. You'd better get some information about your potential partner in advance.
It is definitely useful to study market in advance, as there are some swindlers on the market. When you buy something - learn when and where it will be transshipped, check it with transport owner. All the information is available.
There can be unexpected difficulties with payment conditions. Russian banks don't like LCs. After 25 years since perestroika most of them have not learned how to use this tool, and it hasn't become convenient in Russia. That's why most sellers ask full advance payment by TT. Actually, that's why there is always space at the market. The major business for newcomers is to find money and take a loan using next buyer's LC as a security.
The main transport document - bill of lading - will be passed to you not earlier than the seller receives the money. If you can't arrange a TT transfer without this document - your problem.
Large fishing companies don't cheat. But if you sign a direct contract with a Russian company, be ready the document will turn out to be at least 3-5 pages long. The greater part of it is actually very important for Russian authorities and have nothing to do with you. However, spend some time studying it. It can save your money in case of abnormal development. If something goes wrong - don't go to a court. Your chances are negligible anyway, and even if you win you'll have to leave this business.
The last but not the least. To start importing from Russia, it's not necessary to know Russian. Don't use as intermediaries or interpreters people who are far from fish and food business. Frankly speaking, it's better to have someone with proper command of business English than basic Russian. It's very unfruitful to use an interpreter who has no idea about business specifics, or sometimes doesn't even know terms - in both languages.