Call it what you wish: Offsets, Counter-trade, or Industrial Participation. The first step is to be cognitively aware that an offset obligation likely exists associated with your international defense pursuit. It is a national policy that requires reverse investment to win a major defense program. It is something that has to be taken into account from the beginning of the international business effort. You do not want to be unpleasantly surprised late in the stages of final negotiations about a sudden need to propose a solution to an offset obligation.
Now that you are thinking about the potential need for offsets, learn what offsets are and how to appropriately respond. The general concept of offsets is not hard, but devils thrive in the details. Over 100 countries require offset. Every country has a different policy. There are multiple ways to solve an offset obligation – direct work on the program, indirect (unrelated) orders, and investment. Learn the different options for solving offsets. Learn the country policy and its history of implementation. Practice how to respond to an offset policy.
Now that you have thought about offset obligations and learned about offset options, create an offset plan in advance. No plan entirely survives first contact with the adversary. However, the offset office in a nation is not necessarily your adversary. Remember they want a successful program as much as you do. A comprehensive and well researched proposal will go a long way towards a successful overall business strategy. Just knowing you are thinking about and learning about offsets already puts you ahead of much of your competition.