Used in international trade, CIF is a type of trade contract, meaning the supplier will pay the freight cost involved in delivering the item to the buyer, including insurance. Essentially, the seller is responsible for taking on the risk of delivering the goods safely to the buyer’s country. Note that CIF is a legal term and the exact meaning differs from country to country.
When you are negotiating trade details, the goal should be to get the supplier to take on as much responsibility as possible and reduce your own risks. However, for smaller wholesale lots, the supplier usually hands over the responsibility to the retailer.
China has become a popular source of goods because of its cheaper cost. You can find out more about importing from China and the requirements needed to get started here.