I've often been asked to get information about what it's like for a U.S. company to do business in a particular foreign country. Here are some sources I've found useful, plus a few that I might try in the future.
- The World Bank's Doing Business Project.
- The Country Commercial Guides by the U.S. Commercial Service (free). Use the Market Research Library Search with the "Report Type" set to "Country Commercial Guides."
- The PriceWaterhouseCoopers "Doing Business in ______" series.
- The free Deloitte International Tax and Business Guides.
- The looseleafs Doing Business in Europe or Doing Business in Asia, if applicable.
- U.S. State Department's Background Notes, plus information on traveling and living abroad.
- The Statesman's Yearbook provides basic background information about a country.
- The CIA's World Factbook, which provides general information on individual countries.
- The IMF's economic data for individual countries in its annual report (www.imf.org) -- although this information is generally two to three years old.
- The U.S. Export-Import Bank's Internet site (www.exim.gov).
- The International Trade Administration export-import data, presented by region and industry (www.ita.doc.gov).
- The Economist Intelligence Unit's Market Research databases, for European and Asian countries, available from the EIU and Lexis (WORLD library).
- Investext reports and other analyst reports on the economic prospects of the country in question (see "Analyst Reports.")
- A Dun & Bradstreet report on the country would give you an idea of the national government's financial situation.
- Foreign news databases (e.g., on Lexis, Westlaw and/or Factiva), which can provide information about the country's economy, major businesses moving into and out of the country, the government's business attitudes toward business, etc.
- The "Business Operations in _______" series in the BNA Foreign Income tax portfolios.
- The Matthew Bender and Lex Mundi "Doing Business in" guides available on Lexis.
- The "Doing Business in ..." guides by Baker & McKenzie (type "Doing business in" into the site's search box).
- If relevant, see the special sources for information on offshore businesses, below.
If you feel you're still not getting the information you need, you may want to hire an outside research service, such as Guideline (formerly
Find/SVP). The researchers at NYPL Premium Services can search the extensive business sources available in the Science and Business Library at the New York Public.
If that still doesn't do it, then call other accounting firms and anyone/thing else that makes sense either for assistance or to borrow the materials suggested in the Introduction to International Business Law or elsewhere.
Business Etiquette and Local Customs: A number of books discuss business etiquette and local customers in multiple countries (e.g., Kiss, Bow and Shake Hands), while some focus on individual countries (e.g., Chinese Business Etiquette). Generally, I think the fewer the countries the better, and I would recommend checking the reader reviews on Amazon before relying on any of these books.
I haven't used the site, but I have read that the subscription-based Global Road Warrior is a reliable source for information about business etiquette and local customs in foreign countries.
Corporations: To get materials on how to set up / dissolve / etc. a foreign corporation, call CSC (800-221-0770), CT and/or Thomson Research Services (800-874-4337).
Offshore Businesses and Tax Havens: Reliable country-by-country information on "offshore jurisdictions" a/k/a "tax havens" in Tax Havens of the World (Matthew Bender) and Langer on Practical International Tax Planning (PLI). Tax Havens is available on Lexis (2NDARY;TAXHAV). See the Practicing Law Institute entry for how to access the Langer treatise. Also useful: Foreign Tax and Trade Briefs (Matthew Bender), which is also available on Lexis (2NDARY;FORTAX).
The Trident Trust company posts an overview of the business climate in key offshore countries. KYC News (formerly Offshore Business News & Research) sells information on incorporations civil lawsuits, bank & insurance licenses (granted or revoked), companies liquidated & more from the Cayman Islands, Bermuda & the Bahamas (with more hopefully coming soon). The corporate laws of most "offshore" countries are published in Commercial Laws of the World, now part of RIA's World Wide Tax Law Service, available by subscription through Checkpoint.
Appleby is a leading Offshore law firm. Their publications discuss leading offshore practice areas and jurisdictions.
U.S. Companies Doing Business Abroad: You can look up U.S. companies doing business abroad in American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries (also available in print), the Directory of Corporate Affiliations and Dun & Bradstreet. You could also try contacting the relevant U.S. embassy, chamber of commerce, Foreign country's trade agency, etc.