An association of women business owners has teamed up with the Commerce Department and the Small Business Administration to battle the nation's trade imbalance.

In June, 12 U.S. women business owners will travel to Japan to learn how to trade ideas rather than goods. The trade mission is sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners, a 2,400-member group that supported the first all-woman services trade mission to Germany, Great Britain and Spain last year. The Commerce Department has offered a $1,000 rebate to delegates who write reports about the upcoming mission to be used as reference material for small businesses interested in exporting their services.

"America is becoming a service-oriented country and needs to sell these services abroad to lower our trade defecit and maintain international prominence," said Sherry L. Icenhower, president of the Washington international marketing firm Goldmark International and a member of NAWBO's International Committee.

In order to find out which services would be most welcome in Japan, NAWBO sent a list of possibilities to a U.S. representative there. After the list was shared with Japanese small businesses, which are run mainly by men, it was pared down to three areas: health care, computer software and telemarketing. NAWBO chose to represent the health-care industry because it is broad enough to encompass physical-fitness businesses such as spas and gyms as well as home and preventive-health-care busineses, Icenhower said.

Many of the participants in this year's trade mission plan to share their experiences at the White House Conference on Small Business in August. They hope to create momentum for legislation that would help small businesses export services, Icenhower said. TRADE

The American Chemical Society broke ground last week for a 12-story addition to its downtown headquarters. Earl Klinefelter, ACS membership services department head, noted that membership in the organization has grown from 90,000 in 1960, when it built its current headquarters, to 135,000 today. The size of the ACS staff also expanded from 200 to 375 employes during that time. The new building will be situated between the old headquarters and the AME Metropolitan Church on 16th and M streets NW. It will have two levels of underground parking, and eight of its floors will be leased to professional and trade organizations. The society initially will occupy the first, 11th and 12th floors.

After seven years of struggling, the 124-year-old United States Brewers Association ceased operations abruptly last week and laid off the last of its Washington staff. According to Donald B. Shea, president of USBA, the group was weakened in 1979 when Miller Brewing Co. withdrew its membership and 200 employes were laid off. The brewers association plans to regroup in the future as the Beer Institute to bring the nations' top brewers together again in one organization. The new organization will represent Adolph Coors Co., Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., G. Heileman Brewing Co. Inc., Miller Brewing Co. and The Stroh Brewery Co. as well as other domestic brewers, according to Shea. Shea will serve as a consultant for the new group.

The American Sugar Association, based in Washington, has selected William C. Shanley III, president of the sugar division of Amstar Corp., as chairman of the board. Shanley succeeds Charles D. Shamel, formerly president of the American Crystal Sugar Co., who has left the industry. PROFESSIONAL

The American Society of Association Executives, which represents 6,000 association executives nationwide, has begun a local supplement to its national magazine. The announcement came as a surprise to local organizations such as the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, whose publication, Executive Update, will be competing for advertising with ASAE's supplement. GWSAE Executive Vice President Steve Carey said he was surprised that the national group was venturing into the Washington market but would have to wait before commenting on its effects on the local group's advertising revenue. ASAE's publisher, R. William McCormick, said the organization decided to publish a local supplement because the Washington area has the highest concentration of associations in the country.