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I have a small export-import business, and I want to contact small companies in the U.S. that are interested in exporting to Brazil. I often visit New York City and could meet with them there, if I knew how to identify these companies. —S.V., Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
A number of agencies can help you target potential partners for your import/export business, as well as reference materials you can use to find them on your own.
Perhaps the easiest place for you to start is your local Brazilian trade office, suggests Kerry L. Bonner, a project manager at the Center for International Trade Development in Hawthorne, Calif. They may have contacts with U.S. entrepreneurs or Brazilian industry associations that can help you.
Next, contact the New York City office of the U.S. Export Assistance Center and inquire whether they have lists of small U.S. companies interested in exporting to Brazil. If they do, they may be able to make telephone or e-mail introductions and possibly set up meetings for you the next time you are in the city.
A bilateral trade organization called the Brazil-U.S.Business Council is another potential source for you to find U.S.export partners, Bonner says.It has been named a Commerce Dept.Market Development Cooperator Program for 2011-12, meaning it will get funding and technological assistance this year from the U.S.International Trade Administration.
"The cooperator agreement is designed to support President Obama's National Export Initiative by helping small and midsize companies [expand] their businesses through exports," Bonner says."In particular, we are looking for green technology companies that would like to begin exporting or to expand their exports to Brazil." Resources and contact information are available online.
On the do-it-yourself front, start with the online directory of ThomasNet. "You can access its listings of more than 150,000 companies with thousands of products," says Ayse Oge, president of Ultimate Trade, an international trade consulting company in Encino, Calif.
Another resource Oge recommends is The Encyclopedia of Associations published by Gale. "It lists associations related to particular products. By contacting the association you are interested in, you can get a list of manufacturers, trade shows, and industry mailing pieces," she says.
Make sure that any company you decide to partner with is well-established and has the capacity to keep up with demand from your customers. "The size of the company, the number of employees it has, and its distribution channels are important indicators of its stability," Oge says. Once you identify potential U.S. partners, contact their management and ask for product samples, company literature, and a current wholesale price schedule. Good luck.