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An overseas marketplace guide: how to identify resources and contacts before setting up shop abroad.

You've heard all the hoopla about trading overseas, and now you want to tackle the world of import/export. But first you need to do some serious groundwork before setting out on the international scene. Tapping into the vast array of global business opportunities requires ingenuity, creativity and a bit of the pioneering spirit. More importantly, it requires that you build the right network of contacts and gather the appropriate research.

The first stop on your road map to global opportunities is the fax retrieval service created by International Strategies Inc., a six-year-old consulting firm and electronic publisher.

The fax service, called the Export Hotline and Trade Bank (800-USA-XPORT) offers 5,000 market reports on 78 countries and 50 industries. Also available is information on trade shows, government programs, key contacts and export. The Trade Bank has more than 10,000 companies looking to buy and sell products overseas.

What's nice about this three-year-old national service is that you can access information 24 hours a day free of charge. And it's just a phone call away.

Once you've chosen your country of interest, contact its embassy or consulate in a city near you. Officials can direct you to facts and figures on key industries, business development resources and organizations that may be of help to you both in the U.S. and abroad.

Also, ask to be placed on mailing lists so you can be informed about future seminars, conferences and luncheon briefings. These events offer excellent networking opportunities, and they're great learning sessions.

Another invaluable way to develop resources and learn about your country or countries of choice is to contact the mayor's office in your city and volunteer for "sister city" programs or foreign visitor hospitality activities.

Consider travel/study programs, such as the one offered by Stanford University's Alumni Association. They offer a unique opportunity to visit and study a country in depth.

Tours slated for next year include countries in Europe, Asia, Indonesia, South America and Africa, including South Africa. Contact Duncan Beardsley at 415-725-1093 for more information.

Uncle Sam may be tough to reach at times, but the U.S. government can be a great resource. The Department of Commerce Trade Information Center (202-482-0543) offers counseling on federal trade programs. Moreover, the Commerce Department tracks how much money each U.S. country spends in foreign trade.

For the cyberwise, there's a great deal of information available from the wonderful World Wide Web on the Internet. You can access data on the global marketplace via such popular online services as CompuServe (800-848-8199), Prodigy (800-776-3449) and America Online (800-827-6364).

Before you book those plane tickets, research foreign bookstores for current English-language magazines and newspapers. These publications offer calendars of events that you might want to attend during your visit, and list organizations you may want to contact.

Once you've done your homework and you're ready to do business, check out listings for trade missions. These government- or association-sponsored trips to foreign markets can help you develop strong contacts and snag contracts.

The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is one source for trade missions. In the past, the agency has sponsored trips to South Africa, Canada and Mexico. To find out more, call 202-482-1936.

The global environment offers a cornucopia of opportunities. But it's only by being well-informed that you can participate fruitfully.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Leary, Kathryn D.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Nov 1, 1995
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