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Export Counseling Via Phone, Fax, and Web

By David Schnier

Thinking of exporting? Does your business need information on the government programs and services available to help U.S. exporters sell their products overseas? If so, the International Trade Administration's Trade Information Center (TIC) can help. And, you can have your choice of help by phone, fax, or website.

Why Contact the TIC?

The Trade Information Center's experienced trade specialists are available to help small, medium and large companies navigate the complex web of documentation, licensing and regulations that makes selling to a buyer in France considerably more complicated than selling to one in Philadelphia. And even if you are already familiar with our services because you've called on the TIC before for general exporting information, you need to take another look. Because now the Trade Information Center provides country-specific counseling services to U.S. exporters, in addition to its general export assistance functions.

A Variety of Services

TIC specialists provide information, counseling, and export assistance for countries in Western Europe, Asia, the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and the Near East. Businesses can obtain free information and advice on commercial and economic conditions and business practices in these regions, as well as market opportunities, trade and commercial laws, regulations and standards, and customs information. This help is in addition to the general export information the center provides on the export process and federal export assistance programs.

Through their 800 number (1-800-USA-TRADE), the Trade Information Center's team of international trade specialists provides businesses with a wide array of export assistance services, including but not limited to:

  • Basic Counseling and Referrals on Export Licenses and Controls -- TIC trade specialists can advise companies on export licensing and export documentation requirements and refer exporters to the appropriate offices that process these applications.
  • Country-specific export counseling and assistance -- TIC regional specialists counsel businesses on country-specific issues in Western Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa, and the Near East regarding intellectual property protection, economic conditions, business practices, import tariffs and customs procedures.
  • International Market Research and Trade Leads -- Exporters can learn how to locate sources of international market research and trade leads such as the National Trade Data Bank (NTDB) and the Economic Bulletin Board (EBB).
  • Overseas and Domestic Trade Events -- The TIC can provide callers with information about overseas trade events in their industry sector. They will refer businesses to the appropriate contacts for more information about Department of Commerce-sponsored, trade missions, catalog shows, and international buyer shows.
  • Sources of Export Financing -- The TIC maintains general information and contact numbers for government and private sector export financing programs. The staff advises callers on finance programs offered by the Export-Import Bank, Small Business Administration, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

TIC's Fax Retrieval System

In addition to its regular counseling services, the Trade Information Center provides the public with access to a wealth of export information through its 24-hour fax retrieval system, which can be accessed free of charge by calling 1-800-USA-TRADE (1-800-872-8723). The fax retrieval system provides callers with immediate access to thousands of documents and forms, from basic export information to country-specific information and international trade agreements.


To make country and regional information more accessible to the American business community, the Trade Information Center has placed more regional commercial information on its Internet site. Since the middle of 1998 the TIC has been gradually moving much of the export information from its country databases onto the Internet site. In this way, the Trade Information Center is using the expansive reach of the World Wide Web to help U.S. exporters negotiate the export process.

This award-winning website has been re-designed with the new-to-export user in mind, offering easy-to-locate resources under recognizable headings such as: Export Programs; Country and Regional Market Information; Trade Promotion Events; Trade Lead Information; Foreign Customs, Tariff and Taxes; and Financing Information

For More Information

Contact Rachael Farber at the Trade Information Center in Washington, DC. Her phone number is (202)482-0563 and e mail is

About the Author

David Schnier was formerly an International Trade Specialist at the Trade Information Center, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20230. You may reach him at

August 2, 1999