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INTERNATIONAL NEWS : Mexico Joins the Credit Reporting Loop : Commerce: Dun & Bradstreet's upgraded computer service is expected to be a boon for trade.


MEXICO CITY — When directors of Crosby Valve & Gage in Wrentham, Mass., recently proposed increasing the company's trade with Mexico--both selling more valves and buying castings here for the first time--treasury manager Bruce Carr was worried.

Part of his criteria for selecting supplier and manufacturer representatives--each essential to the proposal--are based on credit reports. And getting credit reports out of Mexico took four to six weeks.

"I was concerned with my ability to keep up with the company's plans," he said.

To Carr's relief, Dun & Bradstreet Information Services is today officially adding Mexico to its computerized credit reporting system. The upgraded service will give companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico immediate access to each others' credit reports. That will speed up decisions on whether to grant potential customers credit, which will help boost trade among the three countries.

That prospect is important, said Sheldon Spector, corporate credit manager at Lexington, Mass.-based Raytheon Co., because "Mexico has always been a good export market for the United States. This provides us with a powerful tool to increase trade."

Raytheon, a high-technology conglomerate, has probably lost prospective customers in Mexico because of its inability to grant credit quickly, he said.

"When a machine is down, it needs to be fixed immediately," he said. "Our options were to wait for a credit report or to seek cash in advance. That is competitively difficult."

Concerns of companies such as Crosby and Raytheon pushed Dun & Bradstreet to add Mexico to its international on-line service, said Ron Glover, president of the company's North American operations. "We are trying to stay in front of our customers in the United States and Mexico," he said.

Other factors were improved telecommunications and computerization of the Mexican subsidiary's credit reporting system.

In recent years, Mexico has allowed more private investment in telecommunications and reduced restrictions on computer imports.

Going on-line is part of an overall program to grow more aggressively in Mexico, Glover said.

That includes quadrupling its database by year-end to incorporate 300,000 companies. With those additions, the database will include firms as small as 15- to 20-employee operations.

The change is important for customers such as MB Leasing here.

Currently, only about 1% of MB's potential clients are in the files. As a result, the company has to wait until Dun & Bradstreet researches prospective customers before granting credit. That often takes two weeks.

"If we could make decisions more quickly, we could gain market share," said J. Martin del Campo, credit manager.

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