International trade and shipping consists of two parts: importing and exporting. Importing is the acquisition of goods from abroad, and exporting is the sale and distribution of goods to other countries.
These transactions tend to be on a large scale. They often involve a lot of money and a lot of goods being transported in large haulage operations using ships, HGVs, aeroplanes and trains.
The necessity for international trade comes down to three things: availability, price and status.
The first reason for a company importing goods or raw materials is purely down to the fact that certain things are just not available in certain countries. For instance, the UK does not really have an abundance of banana trees, so in order to meet the demands of the people who want that yellow, mushy, potassium-filled fruit, they have to be brought in from abroad.
Secondly, it can often be a lot cheaper to buy goods from abroad than to produce them domestically. For instance, electrical goods are produced and sold for a lot cheaper in the Far East.
Finally, the status of some items is enhanced by their foreign origin - imported beer from the Czech Republic, for instance.
Since international trade operations are conducted on such a large scale, people who pursue careers in this area need to be incredibly well-organised, focused and excellent at maintaining records.
Excellent communication skills are also necessary to help arrange and coordinate transactions effectively. Furthermore, the ability to speak a second language can be a fantastic asset when liaising with foreign clients.