|By now, your company has identified
its most promising markets (using Chapters 2
& 3) and devised a strategy to enter those
markets(Chapter 4). As discussed earlier,
a company may sell directly to a customer or use the assistance of an in-country
representative (agents or distributors) to eventually reach the end user.
This chapter describes some possible sources of assistance in locating buyers,
evaluating trade shows and missions, and conducting other programs designed
to make contacts.
Department of Commerce
Business Contact Programs
The U.S. Department of Commerce can help exporters identify and qualify
leads for potential buyers, distributors, joint venture partners, and
licensees from both private and public sources. Along with its various
product, country, and program experts, the Department of Commerce has
an extensive network of commercial officers posted in countries that represent
95 percent of the market for U.S. products. State department economic
officers provide many of these services at U.S. embassies and consulates
that are not staffed by commercial officers.
Programs available through the Department of Commerce are listed in this
section. Exporters should contact the nearest Commerce Export Assistance
Center for more information or contact the Trade Information Center at
1-800-USA-TRADE. Information on these programs is also available at the
Commercial Service Web site: http://www.usatrade.gov/.
Agent/Distributor Service (ADS)
The Agent/Distributor Service (ADS) is used to locate foreign agents
and distributors abroad. It provides a custom search overseas for interested
and qualified foreign representatives on behalf of a U.S. exporter. Commercial
officers abroad conduct the search and prepare a report identifying up
to six foreign prospects that have examined the U.S. firm's product literature
and have expressed interest in representing the U.S. firm's products.
The U.S. company is given the names and addresses of the foreign firms,
names and titles of persons to contact, telephone numbers, cable addresses
and fax numbers, and brief comments about the agent or distributor and
its stated interest in the proposal.
ADS application forms may be obtained from Export Assistance Centers.
Trade specialists at these offices can help prepare applications and provide
Commercial News USA
Commercial News USA (CNUSA) provides worldwide exposure for U.S. products
and services through an illustrated catalog-magazine and electronic bulletin
boards. The catalog-magazine is distributed through U.S. embassies and
consulates to business readers in 139 countries. Copies are also made
available to international visitors at trade events around the world.
Current hard-copy distribution averages 145,000 copies, with ten issues
per year. Information in CNUSA is further disseminated by Commercial Service
posts or local organizations that reprint all or part of the publication.
CNUSA's electronic distribution reaches private sector and government
electronic business bulletin boards with over 2 million business subscribers
in key overseas markets.
Listings in CNUSA describe the major features of an export product or
service. The name, address, and telephone and fax numbers of the U.S.
manufacturer or distributor are included along with a photo or illustration.
A variety of advertising formats are available. The electronic versions
of CNUSA transmit the complete text of the magazine listings, without
illustrations, to Economic Bulletin Board subscribers (See Chapter
CNUSA covers more than 30 industry categories. Companies may also market
services and trade and technical literature through CNUSA. Pharmaceuticals
and medicines for human use, raw materials, agricultural commodities,
sexually oriented products, alcoholic beverages, and items on the U.S.
munitions List are excluded from CNUSA. All products in the publication
must be at least 51 percent U.S. product.
Trade leads generated by CNUSA help U.S. firms identify potential export
markets and make contacts that lead to direct sales, representation, distributorships,
or joint venture or licensing agreements. Overseas inquiries come directly
to participating U.S. firms and are address-coded to allow for tracking
Commercial Service International Contacts
and Country Directories of International Contacts
Commercial Service International Contacts (CSIC) provides contact and
product information on more than 30,000 firms abroad interested in U.S.
products. The Country Directories of International Contacts (CDIC)is a
listing of in-country directories of importers, agents, trade associations,
and government agencies on a country-by-country basis that can be helpful
to U.S. exporters. Both are available on the NTDB (see Chapter
Customized Market Analysis
The Customized Market Analysis Program (CMA) is a custom-tailored research
service which provides U.S. firms with specific information on marketing
and foreign representation for their individual products in one market
abroad. Interviews or surveys are conducted to determine overall marketability
of the product, key competitors, price of comparable products, customary
distribution and promotion practices, trade barriers, possible business
partners, and applicable trade events. Fees for CMA surveys vary from
$1000 to $5100 per report, per country.
Gold Key Service
The Gold Key Service is a custom-tailored business matching service.
It is offered by the Commercial Service in key export markets around the
world. The service includes orientation briefings, market research, appointments
with potential partners, interpreter services for meetings, and assistance
in developing follow-up strategies.
International Company Profiles
An International Company Profile (ICP) is a background report on a specific
foreign firm prepared by commercial officers overseas. These reports include
information on the type of organization, year established, relative size,
number of employees, general reputation, territory covered, language preferred,
product lines handled, principal owners, financial references, and trade
references. Each ICP also contains a general narrative report by the U.S.
commercial officer who conducted the investigation concerning the reliability
of the foreign firm.
Note: The ICP service is offered in countries that lack adequate
private sector providers of credit and background information on local
companies. Credit reports on foreign companies are available from many
private sector sources including, (in the United States) Dun and Bradstreet
and Graydon International. For help in identifying private sector sources
of credit reports, contact the nearest Export Assistance Center.
Trade Opportunities Program
The Trade Opportunities Program (TOP) provides timely leads from overseas
firms seeking to buy or represent U.S. products and services. U.S. commercial
officers worldwide gather leads through local channels. Lead details such
as specifications, quantities, end use, and delivery and bid deadlines
are transmitted daily to the computer center in Washington, D.C., reviewed,
and then immediately posted on the Commerce Department's Electronic Bulletin
Board (see Chapter 2). Users can retrieve
the TOP files (and all other files) from the EBB each day through a personal
computer and modem. Subscribers may use, edit, or redistribute the leads
in any way they wish.
Department of Commerce
Trade Event Programs
Some products, because of their nature, are difficult to sell unless
the potential buyer has an opportunity to examine them in person. Sales
letters and brochures can be helpful, but an actual presentation of products
in the export market may prove more beneficial. One way for a company
to actually present its products to an overseas market is by participating
in trade events such as trade shows, fairs, trade missions, matchmaker
delegations, and catalog exhibitions.
Trade fairs are "shop windows" where thousands of firms from many countries
display their goods and services. They serve as a marketplace where buyers
and sellers can meet with mutual convenience. Some fairs, especially in
Europe, have a history that goes back centuries.
Attending trade fairs involves a great deal of planning. The potential
exhibitor must take into account the following logistic considerations:
- Choosing the proper fair out of the hundreds that are held every year;
- Obtaining space at the fair, along with designing and constructing
- Shipping products to the show, along with unpacking and setup;
- Providing proper hospitality such as refreshments, along with maintaining
- Being able to separate serious business prospects from those just
- Breaking down and packing the exhibit, and return shipping.
A trade magazine or association can generally provide information on
major shows. They can be privately run or government sponsored. Many trade
shows have a "U.S. Pavilon" which is dedicated to U.S. businesses participating
in the trade show. For additional guidance, contact the local Export Assistance
Center, or visit the Commercial Service Internet Web site at http://www.usatrade.gov/.
International Buyer Program
The International Buyer Program (IBP) supports major domestic trade shows
featuring products and services of U.S. industries with high export potential.
Commercial Services officers worldwide recruit qualified foreign buyers
to attend selected trade shows. The shows are extensively publicized through
embassy and regional commercial newsletters, catalog-magazines, foreign
trade associations, chambers of commerce, travel agents, government agencies,
corporations, import agents, and equipment distributors in targeted markets.
The International Business Center at each International Buyer Program
event provides interpreters, multilingual brochures, export counseling,
and private meeting rooms.
For more information, contact the International Buyer Program office
at the U.S. Department of Commerce: telephone 202-482-0481; fax 202-482-0115;
contact your local Export Assistance Center, or visit the Commercial Service
Internet Web site at http://www.ita.doc.gov/uscs.
Trade Fair Certification Program
The Department of Commerce Trade Fair Certification Program is a partnership
arrangement between private sector show organizers and the International
Trade Association to assist and encourage U.S. firms to promote their
products at appropriate trade fairs abroad. Certification of a U.S. organizer
signals to exhibitors, visitors, and the host country government that
the event is an excellent marketing opportunity and that participants
will receive the support of the U.S. Government.
Certified organizers are authorized to recruit and manage a .S. pavilon
at the show. They are especially focused on attracting new-to-market small
and medium-sized U.S. firms, and can help with all aspects of freight
forwarding, customs clearance, exhibit design, and on-site services.
Certified organizers receive government assistance such as:
- Designation as the official U.S. pavilon;
- Authorized use of an official Commercial Service certification logo;
- On-site support/counseling for U.S. exhibitors from U.S. embassy commercial
- Local market information and contact lists;
- Press releases and other promotion actions;
- Advertising and marketing assistance from Commerce Department Export
- Secretarial/Presidential support letters where appropriate;
- Exhibitor briefings; and
- Opening ceremonies/ribbon-cutting/dignitary liaison.
For more information on the Trade Fair Certification Program, contact
the Trade Fair Certification Program office at 202-482-2525; fax 202-482-0872;
or visit the Commercial Service Internet Web site at http://www.ita.doc.gov/uscs.
Certified Trade Missions
The U.S. Department of Commerce supports or "certifies," appropriate
missions organized by state and private-sector trade promotion agencies.
Participants in Certified Trade Missions benefit from a range of on-site
services, including market briefings, business appointments, and opportunities
to meet high-level government and industry officials. Organizers seeking
to certify congressional or governor-led missions are invited to send
their requests to the Department's Certified Trade Missions Program in
Washington, D.C. Requests to certify other types of missions may be sent
directly to the Commercial Service office at the U.S. embassy or consulate
in the chosen overseas market. For more information, contact the Certified
Trade Missions Program office, telephone 202-482-0111; fax 202-482-0115,
or visit the Commercial Service Internet Web site at http://www.ita.doc.gov/uscs.
Matchmaker Trade Delegations
Matchmaker trade delegations are Commerce Department recruited and planned
trade missions designed to introduce new-to-export and new-to-market businesses
to prospective representatives and distributors overseas. Matchmaker delegations
usually target major markets in two to three countries with strong sales
potential for U.S. goods and services. Commercial specialists at the U.S.
embassies and consulates in the targeted countries evaluate U.S. participant
companies' product or service potential, prescreen business contacts,
arrange one-on-one business meetings, and handle all event logistics,
including interpreter services.
For more information, contact the Matchmaker Trade Delegations office
at telephone202-482-3119; fax 202-482-0178; your local Export Assistance
Center, or visit the Commercial Service Internet Web site at http://www.ita.doc.gov/uscs.
Multi-State/Catalog Exhibition Program
This Multi-State/Catalog Exhibition Program showcases U.S. company product
literature in fast-growing markets within a geographic region. The U.S.
Department of Commerce and representatives from state economic development
agencies present product literature to hundreds of interested business
prospects abroad and send the trade leads directly to U.S. participants.
This program is particularly well suited for use in developing markets
because it requires the exporter to make a much smaller investment than
a trade mission or other personal visit.
For more information, contact the Multi-State Catalog Exhibition Program
at: telephone 202-482-3973; fax 202-482-2718;your local Export Assistance
Center, or visit the Commercial Service Internet Web site at http://www.ita.doc.gov/uscs.
Other Department of Commerce Programs
American Business Centers
American Business Centers (ABCs) provide professional office and support
services in 12 important commercial cities across Russia and the Newly
Independent States (NIS) exclusively to U.S. companies. Authorized by
Congress and the 1992 Freedom Support Act, the ABC program emphasizes
helping small and medium-sized U.S. firms to identify opportunities in
Russia and the NIS. Each ABC is a vital, on-site link in an information
service network that offers American-style business facilities to U.S.
ABCs are a cost-effective way to conduct business in Russia and the Newly
Independent States. There are nine ABCs in Russia, as well as on located
in each of the following countries: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
ABCs offer the following broad range of business development and facilitation
- Business counseling;
- Market research;
- Locating, screening, and assessing partners;
- Trade mission and event planning;
- Business appointment scheduling;
- Office and conference room rental;
- International telephone, fax, and e-mail;
- Secretarial assistance; and
- Interpretation and translation services.
The ABCs offer educational outreach and training programs to local firms,
and provide access to commercial libraries and business information covering
a wide variety of timely commercial, legal, and technical issues.
Additional information about American Business Centers is available by
calling 202-482-4655 and selecting option #21 or ordering a flashfax by
dialing 202-482-3145 and ordering document #7022; or visiting the ABC
home page at http://www.bisnis.doc.gov/
The Infrastructure Division helps U.S. firms compete for contracts for
planning, engineering, constructing, and systems installation for large
foreign projects in the areas of transportation, power generation, water/environmental
installations, buildings and commercial infrastructure, and manufacturing/process
plant and other industrial infrastructure. Information on foreign opportunities
in these areas and assistance to U.S. firms competing for such projects
is provided upon request. As circumstances warrant, the Infrastructure
Division mobilizes and coordinates appropriate support from other U.S.
Government agencies, including foreign service posts abroad. For further
information, contact the Infrastructure Division, Room 4314, International
Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C. 20230;
telephone 202-482-4436; or our Web site: http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/infrastructure/.
Department of Agriculture,
Foreign Agricultural Service
Through a network of counselors, attaches, trade officers, commodity
analysts, and marketing specialists, the Department of Agriculture's Foreign
Agricultural Service (FAS) can help arrange contacts overseas and provide
marketing assistance for companies that export agricultural commodities.
Extensive information on the FAS is also available on the Internet. Contact:
Trade Assistance and Promotion Office, 202-720-7420; fax 202-690-4374;
Agency for International Development
The Agency for International Development (AID) administers most of the
U.S. foreign economic assistance programs. These programs offer export
opportunities for U.S. suppliers of professional technical assistance
services and commodities (goods, products, equipment, and material). Professional
technical assistance services generally offer opportunities for consultant
and expert capabilities in agriculture, nutrition, and rural development;
education and human resources; health and population; and energy and environmental
assessment. Opportunities to export commodities are available through
the commodity import programs that AID operates in select AID-recipient
countries, and through AID's direct procurement of commodities. In addition,
AID funds may be available to finance developmentally sound projects in
certain recipient countries involving U.S. capital goods and services.
U.S. exporters are best positioned to obtain orders by making the local
purchasing agencies aware of their products at an early stage. For information
on available funds, projects under consideration, and contacts, exporters
traveling to developing countries where an AID program is in place, should
contact their nearest Export Assistance Center or call 800-USAID4U.
AID, in partnership with the Department of Commerce, offers opportunities
for U.S. exporters of environmental products and services. In Asia, AID
assistance is spearheaded through the U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership
(US-AEP) and in Latin America through its Environmental Technologies Network
for the Americas (ETNA).
These programs represent a public-private partnership in environmental
protection and remediation. This ten-year initiative, began in 1992 and
is currently operating in most Asian and Latin American countries. This
is a partnership with U.S. government agencies, state and local groups,
environmental organizations, and businesses and non-governmental organizations.
The efforts of US-AEP and ETNA are focused on stemming biodiversity loss,
controlling and eliminating industrial pollution, improving energy efficiency,
and assisting in the development of urban environmental infrastructure.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (TDA) assists in the creation of
jobs for Americans by helping U.S. companies pursue overseas business
opportunities. Through the funding of feasibility studies, orientation
visits, specialized training grants, business workshops, and various forms
of technical assistance, TDA helps American businesses compete for infrastructure
and industrial projects in emerging markets.
TDA's mission is to help companies get in on the "ground floor" of export
opportunities and level the playing field with heavily subsidizeded foreign
Because of its focused mission, TDA only considers infrastructure and
industrial projects that have the potential to mature into significant
export opportunities for American companies and create jobs in the United
States. Projects are typically in agriculture, energy and power, health
care, manufacturing, mining and minerals development, telecommunications,
transportation and environmental services.
To be considered for funding, projects must:
- Face strong competition from foreign companies that receive subsidies
and other support from their governments;
- Be a development priority of the country where the project is located
and have the endorsement of the U.S. embassy in that nation;
- Represent an opportunity for sales of U.S. goods and services that
is many times greater than the cost of TDA assistance; and
- Be likely to receive implementation financing and have a procurement
process open to U.S. firms.
Contact TDA at 703-875-4357 or vist its Web site at http://www.tda.gov
for more information.
State and Local Government Assistance
Most states can provide an array of services to exporters. Many states
maintain international offices in major markets; the most common locations
are in Western Europe and Japan. Working closely with the commercial sections
of U.S. embassies in these countries, state foreign offices can provide
assistance in making contacts in foreign markets, providing such services
as the following:
- Specific trade leads with foreign buyers,
- Assistance for trade missions, such as itinerary planning, appointment
scheduling, travel, and accommodations,
- Promotional service for goods or services, including representing
the state at trade shows, and
- Help in qualifying potential buyers, agents, or distributors.
- In addition, some international offices of state development organizations
help organize and promote foreign-buyer missions to the United States,
which can be effective avenues of exporting with little effort. Attracting
foreign investment and developing tourism are also very important activities
of state foreign offices. Increasingly, many cities and counties are
providing these same services.
Business and Service Organization Contacts
Contacts made through business colleagues and associations can often
prove invaluable to U.S. exporters. A colleague with firsthand experience
in an international market may give a personal recommendation for an agent,
distributor, or potential buyer. Conversely, the recommendation against
the use of a representative for credit or reliability reasons may save
the firm a number of problems. Attending export seminars and industry
trade shows is an excellent method of networking with business people
who have international experience. In addition, trade associations can
provide a valuable source of contacts with individuals who may wish to
share their experience of identifying and selling to buyers and representatives
in foreign markets.
Banks can be another source of assistance in locating overseas representation.
The international departments, branches, or correspondent banks of U.S.
banks may help locate reputable firms that are qualified and willing to
represent U.S. exporters. In addition, freight forwarders, freight carriers,
airlines, port authorities, and American chambers of commerce maintain
offices throughout the world. These service firms often have contacts
with qualified representatives and can make recommendations to the U.S.
firm. Foreign embassy and consulate commercial offices may also be able
to provide directories and assistance.
Promotion in Publications and Other Media
A large and varied assortment of magazines covering international markets
is available to exporters through U.S. publishers. They range from specialized
international magazines relating to individual industries such as construction,
beverages, and textiles, to worldwide industrial magazines covering many
industries. Many consumer publications produced by U.S.-based publishers
are also available. Several are produced in national-language editions
(for example, Spanish for Latin America and so on) and also offer "regional
buys" for specific export markets of the world. In addition, several business
directories published in the United States list foreign representatives
geographically or by industry specialization.
Publishers frequently supply potential exporters with helpful market
information, make specific recommendations for selling in the markets
they cover, help advertisers locate sales representation, and render other
services to aid international advertisers.
Many of these magazines and directories may be available at libraries,
Commerce Export Assistance Centers, or in the Department of Commerce's
Reference Room, Room 7046, Washington, D.C. State departments of commerce,
trade associations, business libraries, and major universities may also
provide these publications.
Television, radio, and specially produced motion pictures may also be
used by a U.S. business for promoting products or services, depending
on the country. In areas where programs may be seen and heard in public
places, television and radio promotions offer one of the few means of
bringing an advertising message to great numbers of people. In many countries,
various forms of outdoor advertising (billboards, posters, electric signs,
and streetcar and bus cards) are widely used to reach the mass audience.
Because of the specialized knowledge required to advertise and promote
successfully in foreign markets, U.S. firms may find useful the services
of a U.S. advertising agency with offices or correspondents abroad. Some
U.S. advertising agencies handle nothing but foreign advertising, and
some marketing consultants specialize in the problems peculiar to selling
in foreign markets. Contact your local Export Assistance Center.