UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFKE WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548 INTSRNATIDNAL DIVISIQN SEP2 8 19n Dear Mr. Scott: In our continuing review of the Department of Commerce*s export expansion efforts, the General AccountLng Office examined the posslbillty of lncreasung export sales through the dissemination of mnformatlon on new products avaxlable from United States manufacturers. The following situations indicated the desirabLlxty of expendxng the exposure of such information. 1. During our review of the Trade Opportmties Program, executives of Japanese trading companies representxng United States suppliers told us they wanted znformatlon on new products developed u1 the Unxted States. They believed these products had considerable ssles potential in the Japanese market. The review also showed that trade opportunities from posts in West Germany often were m the nature of enquiries for new products or product lines from American suppliers. The responsiveness of Unuted States suppliers was 1Frmted by the inabllxty of the foreign firm to adequately describe the products sought. 2. While on a recent visit to the U. S. l%abassy in Oslo, Norway, we learned that Norwegian businessmen frequently expressed interest in mportlng United States products. The Embassy told us that more information on Unzted States products could assist m -proving our trade promotion efforts m the Norwegxsn market. 3. In a May 1971 airgram the U. S. Embassy, In Bangkok, Thailand, advised Commerce they continued to receive re- quests from local newspapers and other publlcatlons for pxtures of new Amerxan products and other business and lndustrlal news from the United States. The post commented that the Urn-ted States was misszng out on the kind of con- tinmng publicity that could help its reputation for technxal leadership in numerous product and industrial fields. I4e understand Australia and Germany usebthe publlcatlons approach to promote products Ln the Thailand market. An earlier Embassy axrgram in August 1968 informed Commerce that a survey conducted by the Embassy revesled that editors of 16 daily newspapers in Bangkok welcomed a contlnuxng flow 50 TH ANNIVERSARY 1921- 1971 . of releases and graphic material from American compenues on new products, research developments, end other business news of interest to readers in Thailand. Information from trade associations and similar organizations in the United States was also sought by the Bangkok newspapers. In response to the May1971 airgram, Commerce called atten- tion to the fact that it already distributed some new product information to the posts through the Commercial Newsletter Service and that limited resources precluded expansion of the service. In addition, we noted that a 1Limited amount of information on new products is published in the bi-weekly Commerce Today magazxne. The Commercial Newsletter Service published by the Office of Inter- national Commercial Relations provides new product mformation on about 20 items each month to 106 United States Embassies and Consulates around the world. Posts release the information to local newspapers and use it as source material for their own newsletters which are distributed to local banks, trade associations and chambers of commerce. The low profile of the Newsletter Service in Commerce is exemplified by an annual budget of $1500, exclusive of seleries, end two part-time employees who identify new products from personal reading of trade publications and newspapers. Commerce con- tacts manufacturers to obtein pictures of new products end to determine what countries should receive distribution. In our examination, we identified several sources not presently utilized ,by the Commercial Newsletter Service staff. These sources, we believe, would provide a more complete universe from whxh new product information could be selected for distribution to overseas posts. These sources are: --the Business Research and Analysis staff of the Bureau of Domestic Commerce. Commodity analysts compile a variety of infor%ation gleaned from trade magazines, end other sources. --the United States Patent Office. The publication Patent Official Gazette contains about 1,400 new products each week. -trade associations: the National Association of Manufacturers and the Electronic Industries Association both have available new product information which their representatives would pro- vide to Commerce. Records of the effectiveness of distributing new product information in terms of establishing business relationships are not maintained. The program appears, however, to offer the opportunity for an inexpensive supplement to other Commerce programs for introducing smell and medium-sized firms to international trade. One supplier contacted by our staff expressed gratitude for Commerce*s assistance to him. Although he did not wish to divulge export sales figures, he indicated that Commercets service assisted hxs substantial export business. -2- We therefore suggest, that Commerce solicit opvllons of the overseas posts on expanding the distribution of new product tiormatlon, and Lf warranted, prepare appropriate procedures for coordinating the flow of xKormati.on from industry, commodity analysts, publications, and any other appropriate sources. Program procedures should take into account pecull- erities of rndividusl overseas market areas and situations such as the avaiLabLlity of free advertising +n local newspapers, publlcatlon of the posts* own newsletter, and the like. Should you wish we would be pleased to discuss these matters in greater detail with you or your staff. Also, we would appreciate your views on our observations and the course of actlon contemplated, Sincerely yours, Associate Director Harold B. Scott Assistant Secretary Desxgnate Dome&x and Internatzonal Business Department of Commerce -3-
More Effective Dissemination of New Product Information to Foreign Service Posts Abroad
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-09-28.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)