A brief overview of what exporters can expect from local or regional World Trade Centers, International Trade Clubs and local Chambers of Commerce. This information is taken from "A Basic Guide to Exporting" provided by the U.S. Commercial Service to assist U.S. companies in exporting.
Last Published: 10/20/2016
World Trade Centers, International Trade Clubs, and Local  Chambers of Commerce

Local or regional World Trade Centers (wtca.org) and international trade clubs are composed of area business people who represent companies engaged in international trade and shipping, banks, forwarders, customs brokers, government agencies, and other service organizations involved in world trade. Such organizations conduct educational programs on international business and organize promotional events to stimulate interest in world trade.

There are nearly 300 World Trade Centers or affiliated associations in major trading cities in almost 100 countries. Be mindful that some World Trade Centers are mainly real estate endeavors that offer no or very few membership services, such as export education or networking.

By participating in a local association, a company can receive valuable and timely advice on world markets and opportunities from business people who are already knowledgeable in virtually every facet of international business. Among the advantages of membership are the services, discounts, and contacts from affiliated clubs in foreign countries.

Many local chambers of commerce in the United States provide sophisticated and extensive services for members interested in exporting:
  • Export seminars, workshops, and roundtable discussions
  • Certificates of origin
  • Trade promotion programs, including overseas missions, mailings, and event planning
  • U.S. pavilions at foreign trade shows
  • Contacts with foreign companies  and distributors
  • Export sales leads and other opportunities to members
  • Transportation routings and shipment consolidations
  • Visiting trade missions from  other countries
  • International activities at domestic trade shows
Industry and Trade Associations
Some industry and trade associations can supply detailed information on market demand for products in selected countries, or they can refer members to export management companies. Industry trade associations typically collect and maintain files on international trade news and trends affecting their industry or line of business. They often publish articles and newsletters that include government research. National and international trade associations often organize large regional, national, and international trade shows themselves. To find a chamber in your area, visit uschamber.com

American Chambers of Commerce Abroad
The local chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) is a valuable and reliable source of market information in any foreign country. Local chapters are knowledgeable about local trade opportunities, actual and potential competition, periods of maximum trade activity, and similar considerations.

AMCHAMs usually handle inquiries from any U.S. business. Detailed services are ordinarily provided free of charge for members of affiliated organizations. Some AMCHAMs have a set schedule of charges for services rendered to nonmembers.

International Trade Consultants and Other Advisers International trade consultants can advise and assist a manufacturer on all aspects of foreign marketing. Trade consultants do not normally deal specifically with one product, although they may advise on product adaptation to a foreign market. They research domestic and foreign regulations and also assess commercial and political risk. They conduct foreign market research and establish contacts with foreign government agencies and other necessary resources, such as advertising companies, product service facilities, and local attorneys.

Consultants in international trade can locate and qualify foreign joint venture partners and can conduct feasibility studies for the sale of manufacturing rights, the location and construction of manufacturing facilities, and the establishment of foreign branches. After sales agreements are completed, trade consultants can also ensure that implementation is smooth and that any problems that arise are dealt with effectively. 

Trade consultants usually specialize by subject matter and by global area or country. These consultants can advise on which agents or distributors are likely to be successful, what kinds of promotion are needed, who the competitors are, and how to conduct business with the agents and distributors. They are also knowledgeable about foreign government regulations, contract laws, and taxation. Some companies may be more specialized than others. For example, some may be thoroughly knowledgeable about legal issues and taxation and less knowledgeable about marketing strategies.

Many large accounting firms, law firms, and specialized marketing companies provide international trade consulting services. When selecting a consulting company, you should pay particular attention to the experience and knowledge of the consultant who is in charge of the project. To find an appropriate company, seek advice from other exporters and from the other resources listed in this chapter, such as U.S. Commercial Service offices and local chambers  of commerce.

Consultants are of greatest value to a company that has specific requirements. For that reason, and because private consultants are expensive, it pays to take full advantage of publicly funded sources of assistance before hiring a consultant.

Chamber of Commerce Advisory Committees