Looking for information that can help you tap foreign markets? When it comes to resources for developing international trade, start at home--with Web sites and toll-free hotlines, suggests Spencer Smith, general partner of Business Books Network, a small international publishers' rep based in Dover, N.H. Among the best sources of export expertise are these five, which offer access to market data, industry profiles, trade forecasts, customs regulations, and prospective overseas customers.

  • Trade Information Center, U.S. Department of Commerce (general export assistance); www.ita.doc.gov; 1-800-USA-TRADE.
  • CIA World Factbook (statistics and profiles of countries around the world); www.odci.gov/cia/publications.
  • Office of International Trade, U.S. Small Business Administration (Small Business Answer Desk); www.sbaonline.sba.gov; 1-800-U-ASK-SBA.
  • Export Hotline & TradeBank, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and supported by corporate sponsors (reports on 78 countries; more than 5,000 market reports; industry trends, leads, and contacts; 24-hour fax retrieval); www.exporthotline.com; 1-800-USA-XPORT.
  • Small Business Exporters Association, nonprofit trade and advocacy group representing small and midsize exporters; www.sbea.org/sbea.