Wednesday, January 17, 2007 Issue 153 Volume 7 Number 2  
Our Featured Country
Track the Location of Almost Any Ship
How Counterfeitng Hurts Business
Ger Answers When You're Stumped

Hello International Traders!

John McDonnell here, with your latest issue of Really Useful Sites for International Trade Professionals. Russia's economy is growing steadily, and there's room for optimism about trade these days. I have two sites in this issue that will help you get off to a good start in the Russian market, so read on! Also, wouldn't it be a great idea to track ships worldwide? Well, I found a site with just that information. I bet you don't know how many billions of dollars counterfeiting and piracy costs companies around the world -- but I have a site in this issue where you can find out, and get educated about this serious problem. Finally, I found a site where you can get answers to questions about hundreds of everyday topics, quickly and easily.

And don't forget -- if you'd like more information about international trade, go to FITA's Really Useful Links ( ), which has a link library of more than 8,000 sites related to international trade.

Our Featured Country

Although Russia has had some bumps in the road to a free-market economy, it has had eight straight years of growth, averaging around six percent GDP growth since the financial crisis of 1998. Investment is up, poverty is down, and the middle class is expanding. If that sounds like a market you'd like to investigate, here are a couple of good sites to look at.

  • Export/Import Russia ( ). A British company and a Russian agency created this site, which has lots of statistics about Russian trade. Click on the categories in the left column to get trade stats for Russian industries, or for the economy as a whole. You'll also find information about Russian seaports, trade exhibitions, a purchasing manager's index, tourism, and much more.
  • Small Business In Russia ( ). This site has Russian currency rates, business news, weather, downloads of legal & tax briefings, plus a database of business offers, offers for investments, and businesses for sale.

You'll also find plenty of good research at the Russia Mini Portal ( ), a feature of the FITA Web site. The Russia Mini Portal has an overview of the country, with facts about the language, currency, climate, etc., plus more specific information about the economy, Russian markets, taxes, labor market indicators, and tips on doing business in Russia.

Click on "Russia Links" and you'll find a variety of sources for market research, trade leads, business directories, logistics, government contacts, travel, financing, and lots more.

The Russia Mini Portal is one of many research gateways at the FITA site. To find Mini Portals for other regions or countries, just click on "Country Profiles" from within a Mini Portal, or at the FITA home page (

FITA's Global Trade Book Store has some excellent books about doing business in Russia. Check out Find Business Partners in the Consumer Market of Russia, From Nyet to Da: Understanding the Russians and Culture Smart! Russia: A Quick Guide to Customs & Etiquette.

The following associations are FITA member associations. Their sites offer more resources about doing business with Russia:

And click here to search the FITA Member Directory for links to FITA member associations' websites.


Track the Location of Almost Any Ship

I've written about flight tracking sites before, but here's the first ship tracker I've come across. ( ) allows you to see shipping movements worldwide. Just click on "Ship Tracker" at the home page, then select a category (Ship Traffic Worldwide, Cruise Ship Tracker, Cruising Yachts Tracker, etc.) and you can find the location of ships anywhere. You can also search by name or callsign for a specific ship. There's lots of information for sea lovers at this site, including data about tides and currents, water and air temperatures, wave heights, hurricane tracking, and more.


How Counterfeitng Hurts Business

Years ago I had some friends who bought counterfeit watches. They paid a fraction of the price, and had a watch that looked just like the expensive, European models that all the celebrities wore. The watches developed problems, and most weren't working a year later, but my friends still thought they'd gotten a deal. Nobody stopped to think about how the counterfeits ripped off the people who designed, produced, and sold the real watches. Nowadays, counterfeiting costs the U.S. economy over $200 billion a year, and the world economy $650 billion. A good site to learn more about this issue is The ( ), hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Here you'll find videos, fact sheets, articles, news stories, lists of meetings & events, procedures for reporting fake products, case histories, an "Outrage of the Month" (you'd be amazed at what's getting counterfeited these days), and more. Counterfeiting not only costs the economy money and jobs, it can be dangerous -- items like fake medicine and brake pads can actually kill people.


Ger Answers When You're Stumped

Although my kids think I'm an expert on most things (at least until they become teenagers), the truth is that there are vast holes in my knowledge. That's why it's good I found Ask Me Help Desk ( ). At this site you can ask questions on hundreds of topics and get answers from experts. You need to register to ask a question, but it's free. There are over 300 topics, in areas like: Collectibles, Crafts, Computers, Job Hunting, Scholarships & Financial Aid, Etiquette, Dentistry, Gardening, Cooking, Law, Investing, and Plumbing, to name just a few. You don't want to use this site exclusively for a major decision, but it's a good starting place for your research. You can also contribute answers to others' questions, and if you offer enough useful ones, you can be upgraded to expert status. This is a site that is worthwhile whether you want to learn how to fix a leaky faucet, find a scholarship for you child's college education, or evaluate a car insurance policy.


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