Many foreign buyers seem to favor manufacturers only over all other types of business in the supply chain. And some buying offices in some sense discriminate against trading companies because they drain profits in between, and some of them tend to lead foreign buyers to think of all middlemen including sourcing agents as negative players. However, I think the decision should be left to the buyers themselves in choosing among buying offices, sourcing agents, manufacturers or trading companies.
First of all, we need to ask ourselves, what do buyers really care about? The answer actually can be very simple: quality, price and service. Although I myself am a sourcing agent, I hold the view that the products can be procured from any type of business that best juggle the three factors or anyone that can facilitate the manufacturer to adjust these three factors to a perfect balance.
For example, if a good trading company can strike a good balance among these three factors, I do not see why buyers should not choose to deal with a trader. Believe it or not, some trading companies can even offer lower price than manufacturers with the advantage of getting tax refund from the government. Moreover, it has to be admitted that they could have more expertise in terms of product knowledge than all product sourcing companies or individuals, because unlike buying offices who deal in say 30 industries, these traders have been focused on one particular industry for years. You will need a Shenzhen interpreter.