From the January 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Like marriage, overseas business relationships can go sour. Communication can save both--if you agree on how to disagree.

A professional, neutral third party (versus a lawyer) is key. Arbitration and mediation can save time and money by resolving international business disputes out of court.

Unfortunately, says Claudia Ray, an arbitration expert at New York City law firm O'Melveny &Myers LLP, few entrepreneurs consider the outcome of bad transactions. So when something goes wrong, they're often forced to take up matters in a foreign court system. Smart businesses agree to rules established by groups like the American Arbitration Association in New York City.

Using these rules, you can arbitrate a settlement (have a third party make a decision) or mediate (have a third party broker a decision). "Everybody [can] state their case without the hostility of litigation," says Ray, "and it doesn't give an advantage to either party."

Arbitration paid off for Roberta Moore, 40, president of Qualitative Marketing in San Jose, California. When a Canadian client didn't pay a $10,000 bill, Moore turned to the American Arbitration Association.

"The process was smooth," says Moore. "Arbitration prevented me from having to go through a foreign court system, and it did what a collections agency couldn't--get money from a company outside the U.S."

For more information, visit the American Arbitration Association Web site at http://www.adr.org


Christopher D. Lancette is a journalist in Atlanta who covers international topics for Hispanic Business and other publications.

In The Lead

A new trade lead program puts you on course.

Entrepreneurs know finding leads is tough. But it's particularly hard abroad. An improved tool, however, may make it a breeze.

Last fall, the SBA joined forces with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance the Global Technology Network (GTN), a trade lead program designed to match U.S. companies with opportunities in more than 40 countries within Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The GTN's focus is on technology in several sectors: agriculture, communications, information, environment, energy and health. By the time 1998 numbers are tabulated, USAID expects the program to have generated approximately $100 million in new contracts for U.S. firms.

Trade leads generated by USAID are placed into a database entrepreneurs can access at the SBA's 19 Export Assistance Centers, by phone (800-872-4348) or on the Web (http://www.usgtn.org). "When we can't [help], we refer companies to someone who can provide assistance," says Hank Merrill, director of the Office of Business Development at USAID.

Tips often come from countries seeking companies to serve their development needs. "In many respects, business is more important than humanitarian aid for these countries," Merrill says. "Privately financed projects help long after aid money runs out."

Where In The World?

Get your shipments on the right track.

Acresskill, New Jersey, company has introduced a global shipment tracking system using top-shelf, hardware-based services from the likes of UPS and FedEx.

At a cost of $1 and up per shipment, GMS International Inc.'s G-Trac, an Internet-accessible system, allows users to follow a shipment's progress all along the supply chain--from the offshore manufacturer to the importer of record. To give G-Trac a try, go to http://www.gtrac.com

Contact Source

Qualitative Marketing, (408) 295-5524, roberta@qmarketing.com