Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Gathering Export Market Information Using the Internet

Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Gathering Export Market Information Using the Internet

Article excerpt

Free or nominally priced Internet-based sites for gathering export market information are identified and briefly described. Keegan's (1999) framework for a "Global Business Intelligence System" is used to organize the information which is contained in these sites. While the information which is forthcoming from the identified sources has utility for all exporters, new exporters may find the information to be particularly helpful. The use of these information sources by new exporters will enhance their knowledge in key areas (e.g., U. S. patent protection in foreign countries, U. S. export procedures, and foreign tariff information), thus (presumably) enabling them to export closer to their potential.

INTRODUCTION

It is generally acknowledged that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United States are not exporting to a level that is even close to their potential. This is true not only in the U. S. but also in other industrialized countries and in developing countries as well. U. S. Governmental efforts to involve more of these firms in exporting are very evident in the activities of the International Trade Administration (Vanderleest, 1996). Furthermore, the receptivity of new exporters who have used the services of the ITA has been quite good (Vanderleest, 1996).

A problem is that the standard package of ITA services for new exporters, which comes at little or no charge to such firms, does not adequately satisfy the needs of these firms in key areas (Vanderleest, 1996). Among these areas are ones such as knowledge about tariffs and other restrictions of importing countries, U. S. export procedures and regulations, and protecting patents in foreign countries. In the data gathered by Vanderleest ( 1996), there is evidence of managements' dismay that such information was not provided to their firms.

Additionally, new exporters are hesitant to purchase such ITA services as the "international market search" service and the "comparison shopping" service, due to their perceptions that the prices of these services are expensive. If these exporters were informed that they could purchase access to databases of "umbrella" concerns such as DIALOG and Datastar for $100 to $300 per hour of computer connect time, their response as a group to such offers would undoubtedly be negative as well. Vanderleest (1996) suggests that what new exporters want is "...simple, uncomplicated, free or minimal cost assistance..." (p. 24) The purpose of this paper is to provide this assistance by identifying high quality information sources regarding areas that are known to be important to new exporters, sources that are available using primarily the Internet, and for little or no out of pocket cost. The main Internet site that we employ is identified in Jesswein and Kwok ( 1997) as the STAT-USA site and offers access to the U. S. Government-supported National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). What is not generally known is that the NTDB is a complex database umbrella which the novice would have to study for several months in order to determine the structure, utility and limitations of each of the several hundred programs that collectively comprise the NTDB.

In this paper we provide guidance in using the Internet to gather the export market information that is needed by new exporters, and other exporters as well. We organize this information using a framework which is presented by Keegan (1999) and which is entitled "Global Business Intelligence System". The components of this system are presented in Part II of this paper. In Part III, we provide guidance regarding how the Internet can be used to get export market information which falls under the relevant categories of the "Global Business Intelligence System". We do this primarily by identifying and briefly describing specific programs in the Internet version of the NTDB. The paper is ended with concluding remarks in Part IV.

It should be noted that the guidance that we offer involves the use of Internet sites that can be accessed at most U. …

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