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)

                                   UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFKE
                                              WASHINGTON,    D.C.   20548

                                                                                  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
                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
                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
       --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.

       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