Randall Castillo Ortega explains the challenges for business leaders in foreign trade

Business and trade expert Randall Castillo Ortega offers insight into the challenges international trade businesses face and how they can be overcome to keep the business flowing.

San José, Costa Rica – WEBWIRE

Authorities have intensified import and export controls and increased foreign trade fines for non-compliance and omission.



International trade was severely affected by the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. It is bringing with it outcomes in many cases fatal for the business sector. Randall Castillo Ortega, an entrepreneur and global trade specialist from Costa Rica, provides insight into the various challenges companies in foreign trade are facing.


One of the challenges that international trade must face quickly and effectively are the delays in shipments made by commodity-manufacturing nations. This is because imports and exports came to an almost complete standstill last year. With new biosecurity standards and countries still having strong restrictions, a new way of sending and receiving goods must be considered.


Develop an international structure. If a company wants to be competitive worldwide, it must have a team – ready for the challenge – that knows how to operate under different legislation in force.


Select the right markets. Firms can boost their growth by diversifying, but leaders need to analyze which international markets are appropriate for their product or service.


Be up to date on laws and regulations. All the legal implications fall on the heads of foreign trade, as they need to know the local applications and regulations, both of their country and their target market. In this aspect, acquiring a compliance system has become essential to identify risks of regulatory non-compliance.


Confront the controls applied to foreign trade. Explains Castillo, “Authorities have intensified import and export controls and increased foreign trade fines for non-compliance and omission.”


Manage accounting, taxation and finance properly. These three areas are a great challenge for companies that are committed to internationalization to ensure their growth, especially since they must know different tax systems, taxes and requirements.


Understand international pricing calculation and strategy. For exporters, setting the price of their products and services abroad is no easy task, as they must remain competitive while securing their profits.


Adopt international payment methods. “Economic transactions are a constant concern for both importers and exporters,” says Castillo. “Many acquire some international payment system – especially documentary collections and letters of credit – to guarantee a certain degree of financial protection.”


Understand exchange rates. Currency fluctuation can seriously affect the operation of a company involved in foreign trade.


Communication and cultural differences. Effective communication with colleagues, customers, distributors, etc., is critical to the success of international business. It is not easy for leaders to break down the cultural barriers that prevent the insertion of a product or service in a new market.


Political risks. Political uncertainty and instability are latent risks for any company, as governments can change policies, regulations and taxes, harming foreign companies and investments. Against this backdrop, business leaders need to follow political developments and strategize to mitigate risks and negative consequences.


Secure supply chains. Supply chains are exposed to serious problems, which can involve criminal groups or suppliers with illegal practices. To combat this problem, the AEO Certification was established, which can be obtained by importers, exporters, transport companies, customs agents, industrial parks and other companies.


Innovation obstacles have to be overcome. Due to constant technological and economic changes, the biggest challenge for leaders in international trade is to innovate in all their processes to face any adversity.                


One of the challenges for international trade is the consolidation of imports and exports in world markets. The reactivation of the economy, which is already an essential factor in overcoming the crisis, is not enough. Also, it is necessary for companies to consolidate in their market niches based on competitiveness and process optimization.


About Randall Castillo Ortega


Randall Castillo Ortega has been involved in the financial space virtually his entire professional career. In addition to having founded the financial lending firm RACO, he is also an avid outdoorsman and, along with his family, is a huge community supporter. He regularly participates in community ceremonies and events organized to drive a better environment for children and families.

Randall Castillo Ortega explains how COVID-19 has impacted commerce in Panama

Business and trade expert Randall Castillo Ortega provides insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the commercial industry in Panama.

San José, Costa Rica – WEBWIRE

Over the past year, cybersecurity has evolved from systems protection to business enabler. This allows remote, secure operation with the visibility required to trust the business.



All industries have been affected by the changes caused by the pandemic, including manufacturing, retail, hospitality, education, and healthcare. It is impossible to go back to how things were before the pandemic. This pandemic has had many impacts on Latin American countries like Panama. Randall Castillo Ortega, an expert in global trade, shares his insights about how this affected the country’s business practices.


The “new normal” will be in place for some time. Companies do not expect security priorities or current security concerns to significantly change over the next two-years. Many Panamanian security agencies expect that the rapid changes in their networks and security infrastructures as a result of the pandemic will be permanent.


The most impactful security strategy changes have been those that put more emphasis on security education for employees (39%) and network security, threat prevention (37%), as well as expanded protection of mobile devices and endpoints (37%). 27% of respondents stated that they would increase security projects in 2020. This shows that the majority of people responded to the pandemic with a reimagining of their business models.


“Over the past year, cybersecurity has evolved from systems protection to business enabler. This allows remote, secure operation with the visibility required to trust the business,” asserts Castillo. He adds that a large portion of company implementations were done without planning. It is crucial to now look at the security environment.


The priorities for 2022, in addition to the strategy, have also moved. The main problem was security for remote employees. This was followed by protection from phishing attacks and social engineering attacks, secure remote access and protection of cloud applications and infrastructure.


Castillo explains, “If we can understand how markets have reacted to the pandemic and how businesses are adapting to it, it is clear that this paradigm shift is unprecedented. Disruptive technologies like robotics, Big Data and artificial intelligence have found the perfect moment.”


Social distancing will allow you to see how Panama’s companies, particularly those in the healthcare sector will look at digital processes. This has been made more difficult by the pandemic, which McKinsey’s global institute for 2017 predicted that it would affect between 400 and 800 million jobs worldwide by 2030.


It is crucial that people are educated in the new technologies and other opportunities that these new business models, technologies offer. There is increased competition for jobs due to the rise of virtual meetings and remote workers. Companies have realized that rigid work schedules are no longer the norm and will be challenged to find a better work-life balance.


Castillo explains, “The results show that motivation is higher than traditional structured models, which leads to an increase in productivity.” The same goes for contactless payments and outdoor experiences. Organizations will be more resilient and optimized.


These changes are here to stay, and we must learn how to navigate the challenges this pandemic presents. Entrepreneurs must be more open and willing to adopt new business models that promote permanence. We will have to also work hard to strengthen the relationships between employees and the leadership of the company.


About Randall Castillo Ortega


Randall Castillo Ortega has been involved in the financial space virtually his entire professional career. In addition to having founded the financial lending firm RACO, he is also an avid outdoorsman and, along with his family, is a huge community supporter. He regularly participates in community ceremonies and events organized to drive a better environment for children and families.

Randall Castillo Ortega discusses the benefits of an ERP system to an export company

The management of export sales in a simple, efficient and automated way is another of the most outstanding functionalities of the software.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems simplify the internal processes of the companies where they operate, facilitating users the work inherent in their positions having great benefits. They offer a lot of benefits for maintaining smooth operations. Randall Castillo Ortega, an entrepreneur and import/export specialist, explains what those benefits are for an export company.

Incorporating an ERP solution in the company allows for the traceability of the complete management. This type of software, particularly for exporting companies, makes it possible to reduce administrative costs through the simplification and automation of certain processes, such as the flow of documents from the stages of the export cycle. The possibilities of avoiding errors, duplication of tasks, and improving the quality of information, are possible due to the reduction of manual imputations and the possibility of automating the corrections of imputed expenses.

“The management of export sales in a simple, efficient and automated way is another of the most outstanding functionalities of the software,” explains Castillo. “Among the main advantages, we can find the registration of the product sheets with their corresponding sale prices, their price in other currencies and the possibility of keeping track of the status of orders at all times, such as the production process and the stock of the warehouse. Automatic calculations and change difference results are also contemplated in an ERP solution.”

The inclusion of this type of tool aims to have accurate and reliable information on the existing inventory, and at the right time. Products, movements and balances represent accurate data to carry out efficient inventory management. As these are exporting companies, it is essential to recognize the surplus logistics expenses among the main points of the control of these inventories.

An ERP system provides the necessary and specific technology for companies that choose to approach external markets, either in export or with intentions to internationalize. Most ERP solutions allow exporting companies to control and monitor the export process, as well as to have the appropriate permits, insurance, procedures and documentation in general. The software also offers the possibility to manage export refunds and obtain profitability from exports, from agribusiness sectors to food, beverages and services.

An ERP solution designed for exporting companies allows you to automate accounting, collections and payments, and invoicing, in addition to having current legislation and taxes that affect operations. Responsiveness is increased due to the planning and direction in which resources are derived. The inclusion of a CRM module allows you to keep track of customers and improve the relationship with them through history, orders and their preferences. In relation to the State agencies that companies use to export, there is the opportunity to have electronic invoicing for export.

The implementation of ERP software for this type of companies, finally, improves productivity and profitability in business management and provides technological support to control the critical areas of the commercial sector. “The incorporation of an ERP business management solution allows savings for companies in the medium and long term, both economically and in the other resources associated with the achievement of profitability objectives,” adds Castillo.

If your company is related to the import and export of goods, you will understand what this entails: from the purchase order to the final delivery. Moving goods through the international supply chain can occur only if there is an efficient exchange of accurate information along the supply chain with all trading partners. Facilitating the transaction between trading partners increases the speed of the supply chain and reduces the risk of breakdowns by providing accurate information to customs agencies when required.

Automating the export and import processes is of great benefit to organizations. For this reason, software that is efficient increases productivity will bring all these advantages to your distribution company. It will reduce the time and efforts related to frequent changes in regulations and automatically keep exports up to date in accordance with changing restrictions. In addition, it allows for easy handling of export documents, including those mandatory for customs and successful management of the fulfillment of requirements to the multiple regulatory bodies of international trade.

About Randall Castillo Ortega 

Randall Castillo Ortega has been involved in the financial space virtually his entire professional career. In addition to having founded the financial lending firm RACO, he is also an avid outdoorsman and, along with his family, is a huge community supporter.  He regularly participates in community ceremonies and events organized to drive a better environment for children and families.

Randall Castillo Ortega discusses how global trade is rebounding from COVID-19

is expected to be a year of strong rebound in the region, with 7.2% year-on-year growth in exports and 19.9% in imports.

The strong recovery in external purchases in South America (the third region with the highest increase behind Asia and North America) reflects a rebound from the recession experienced by some of its main economies in 2019, according to the WTO. The high annual growth rate of merchandise trade volume recorded in 2021 mainly reflects the sudden decline of the previous year, which bottomed out in the second quarter of 2020.

According to a survey by the multinational Harvey Nash and the firm KPMG, the coronavirus pandemic generated one of the largest investments in technology in history. This unexpected and unplanned increase in technology investment has also been accompanied by huge changes in the way companies function, with more organizational changes in the last six months than seen in the previous ten years.

The investment propelled social networks as a channel of attention, robotization and self-attention as a basic step, and the use of tools and platforms that make management much more productive will be the trends that will mark the sector this year. Meanwhile, although electronic invoicing systems began as an alternative that allowed to save costs and inventories, today, they are used by many companies as a tool to manage financial and commercial information. They provide data on market opportunities and even allow them to demonstrate to financial institutions the payment capacity of an organization, facilitating the companies’ access to credit.

Starting from a lower point, year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2021 was 22.0%, but the figure is forecast to fall to 10.9% in the third quarter and 6.6% in the fourth quarter, due in part to the rapid recovery in trade in the last two quarters of 2020. “For the forecasts for 2021 to be met, only a quarter-on-quarter growth of 0.8% on average each quarter in the second half of this year was needed, which is equivalent to an annualized rate of 3.1%,” asserts Castillo.

About Randall Castillo Ortega

Randall Castillo Ortega has been involved in the financial space virtually his entire professional career. In addition to having founded the financial lending firm RACO, he is also an avid outdoorsman and, along with his family, is a huge community supporter.  He regularly participates in community ceremonies and events organized to drive a better environment for children and families.

Randall Castillo Ortega discusses management control in foreign trade operations

Even the evolution in the application of technology has grown, and we could even remember how the customs clearance of goods has evolved. Today, it is an electronic customs clearance, without papers, everything is through interfaces, this streamlines processes and reduces time and risks.

There are a number of actors involved in foreign trade operations – buyers, importers, suppliers, exporters, carriers, shipping companies, customs agents, cargo companies, warehouses, terminals, insurers and more. Each of these represents a link in the logistics chain, and each plays an important role. Randall Castillo Ortega, an expert in import and export operations, provides insight into how companies can better employ management control in their foreign trade activity.

It is evident that the longer the chain, the greater the risk. Because the merchandise is passed from hand to hand, there can be various kinds of problems, such as the merchandise not arriving on time, costs being higher than budgeted and more. Additionally, there are controls that the legislation indicates must be automated, such as the administration and control of inventories and the control of credit accounts and guarantees in the case of companies certified VAT and IEPS.

Nowadays, it is difficult to think that with the volume of information that we must handle, the control of operational management can be carried out correctly and effectively manually. Says Castillo, “Even the evolution in the application of technology has grown, and we could even remember how the customs clearance of goods has evolved. Today, it is an electronic customs clearance, without papers, everything is through interfaces, this streamlines processes and reduces time and risks.”

Management control within organizations drives us to seek automation, but not in isolation, but as a supply chain. If we refer to import processes, there are ways to have controlled the process from the moment the need of the company is born, through the purchase, delivery of the material, transfer of the same from the point of origin to the customs of entry, import clearance, transfer to the place of destination and entry of the material. All this can be automated, with the least intervention of human resources. There are also systems that even account for each part of the process. In the same way, we refer to the export processes and, of course, to the inventory controls, as well as the control of accounts and guarantees.

Eroding economic resources in automation for management control is finally an investment that will be recovered over time. On the other hand, we must establish metrics (KPIs) for each of the participants in the chain and the systems must be able to obtain the results in a simple way. What is not measured cannot be changed or improved.

Once you have the indicators, you can make decisions that help even to reduce costs more. When there is no adequate management in the flow of the supply chain, companies tend to raise the level of inventories to avoid the risk of not complying with any delivery or stop any of their production processes. On the other hand, if we are clear about the times, organizations have the opportunity to reduce costs by avoiding over inventories in their warehouses.

If we detect areas of opportunity in the transfer of materials, there are solid arguments to request improvements from carriers or forwarders. The same applies to other actors in the chain, such as customs agents, it is necessary that they are prepared technically and operationally, but we must also take care that they comply with the established metrics.

Companies can determine their needs or they can seek support from specialized companies that can make a general diagnosis of the various processes that are carried out in the supply chain, with the aim of offering both digital and technical and operational solutions. “It is important to note that a fundamental aspect is that it operates within the legal framework, so it is important to know the current regulations. Our firm can provide these services holistically,” adds Castillo.

With respect to the human resources that intervene in the supply chain, we can consider that they are the most valuable thing in each organization. For this reason, the fact that they stop doing certain tasks due to the fact that they are automated does not imply that the development of their activities is not of utmost relevance, so we must consider that another area in which it is recommended to invest is in their training and development. Automation, training, indicators and working under the framework of the law can help organizations grow and, therefore, the country’s economy.

About Randall Castillo Ortega

Randall Castillo Ortega has been involved in the financial space virtually his entire professional career. In addition to having founded the financial lending firm RACO, he is also an avid outdoorsman and, along with his family, is a huge community supporter.  He regularly participates in community ceremonies and events organized to drive a better environment for children and families.