Importing has a language all its own. To learn the lingo, Steven Kivitz, foreign buyer for importer Chadwick Miller, suggests consulting two government publications. Importing into the United States (1991, $4.75) covers the entry process, assessment of duties, and other issues; it's available from local U.S. Government Printing Office bookstores, or by phone (301-953-7974). The two-volume Customs Regulations (Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations) lays out the rules for bringing products through U.S. customs; look for it in the government-books section of the library. Neither publication is easy reading, but both will introduce you to the terms used by customs officials, trading companies, and customs brokers.

-- Susan Greco