If you're exporting a product that's made with some imported components, ask your customsbroker about the U.S. Customs Service's duty-drawback program. Under duty drawback, an exporter can get a refund for 99% of the duty paid on theimported item, even if someone else did the importing.

For example, Carstab Products, in Reading, Ohio, was importing an acid from Germany to use in making plastic products. Carstab then exported about 20%of its finished products all over the world and was able to get back nearly 20% of the duties paid on the acid. The refund amounted to about $50,000 one year.

"Duty drawback has been around since 1789," says Harold Lemmesh, one-time chief of the liquidation branch of the San Francisco Customs District. "Butthere are still probably thousands of companies that have never heard of it."