If you're trying to make sense of international cultural and business mores (see "Will Your Product 'Travel' Overseas?" No. 07921181, July 1992), far-flung experts aren't the only ones who can help you.
* State export offices (check with your state economic-development office) help small businesses analyze overseas prospects. They can guide you to market reports prepared by foreign commercial officers. They also publish export guidelines and hold seminars in shipping and licensing.
Many state export offices organize trade delegations to and from other countries. The Rep-Com show in Mexico City, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce (202-377-4231), provides small companies in a variety of industries with a rare chance to meet one-on-one with Mexican agents and distributors. Rep-Com will be held in December 1992 and June 1993.
* The Commerce Department's National Trade Data Bank, available through district offices and in some libraries, reportedly contains more than 90,000 documents (including reports from the CIA and the State Department), featuring country-specific overviews of product markets, economic conditions, and best prospects for exporters. For a rundown of federal export programs, call the Trade Information Center at 800-872-8723.
* Private help: The AT&T Export Hotline (800-872-9767), a fairly extensive "fax-back" service, is a good place to start to find demographics and industry reports that assess market conditions, competition, and top sales opportunities in a given country. If you're selling a consumer product, call Subsidiary Services International (800-336-4048, fax 401-453-5307), an exporting-consulting firm, for a free brochure on how to qualify overseas distributors. -- Susan Greco