The LOI as it is now used is a misunderstood application of poorly informed brokers and traders. A more proper application based on established custom and practice in International trade, going back even to the old medieval "Law Merchant" (Lex Mercantilis) is: Buyer requests a quotation _ in modern usage this is an RFQ/Request For Quotation _ NOT an LOI. Seller may then reply with a Quote. Buyer confirms receipt of quoted prices, and requests an Offer.
The Letter of Intent is a non_binding document of inquiry, stating one's interest and intent. The more appropriate document for an Importer to use when initiating contact with an Exporter or supplier is an RFQ _ Request for Quotation. Many brokers and new traders believe that the LOI establishes some sort of firm inquiry, nothing can be further from the truth. There is absolutely nothing binding whatsoever about an Letter of Intent because all that it does is to establishes an intention _ for example, I can sit down and write a letter of intent to buy the empire state building and it would be, utterly non binding.