Research markets with trade statistics
Do you want to identify promising markets and check where there is a demand for your products? Use trade data to get a picture of the current situation: exports from your country, target market imports, as well as which other countries are big suppliers to your target markets.
What trade statistics tell you
Trade statistics give you information on volumes and values of trade and developments seen in recent years. You will find out if the trade flows for your product to or from a certain country are growing, declining or if they are stable. Please, note that trade data give you facts about recent years, but the data do not answer the question why these developments occur.
With the help of trade statistics you can look up answers to the following questions:
1. To which markets is my country exporting my type of product?
When starting to look for international market opportunities, check to which destinations your country exports your type of products. If there are strong relations between your country as supplier and the target markets, it means there are already routes available – your country is known and has probably an image which may be associated with reliability, speed and quality of products.
If there is no existing export of your product from your country to your targeted markets, it is likely that your country is less known and that you will need to put in an extra effort to raise awareness.
2. Which are the countries importing the most of my product?
Identifying the countries that are main importers of products like the one that you produce is also an important piece of the puzzle. In these countries there should be a clear potential for your product. These countries can be different from the ones that you identified while checking your country’s exports, but worth including in your research.
Tips: Make a short list of interesting countries for further research, according to question 1 and 2. Continue to gather information for these markets by asking question 3.
3. Which are the main supplying countries to the markets I am interested in?
Trade statistics will show from which countries your targeted markets (the markets of interest to you) import your type of product. In other words, this will tell you who your competitors are in the respective markets.
Through trade statistics you get general information about competition from other countries. Be aware though that the data will be quite general and will refer to a whole category of products. Often it will be difficult to find statistics for just your type of product, but you will find data for a larger category (which includes your type of product).
Moreover, the statistics will give you information about the imports in a certain market, but not in relation to the market segment that the products are targeting. For instance, you may find that there are large imports of your type of product on a certain market, but after further research you may find out that those large quantities are for a product that is targeting a low segment, while you might be targeting a luxury segment. In this case your specific competitors will not be the same as the ones shown in the trade statistics.
For some product categories, for instance fresh fruits and vegetables, you will be able to tell which countries supply which markets in the different seasons. You can do this by looking at trade statistics for different parts of the year. If you supply fresh produce, you will be competing with producers who supply during the same seasons as you.
Tips: Use resources available to gather more general statistical data and to determine which markets are interesting to research in more detail. After you determine these markets, identify local sources to gather more specific information, as for example related to segments for your type of product. This information might be more difficult to find, but be creative; identify a couple of local companies which you could interview to find out the information that you are looking for.
Where to find free of charge trade data
To be able identify the correct statistics you will need to know the customs code (HS code) under which your product is traded internationally. If you do not know your product´s HS code, please check here on how to find out: Classify your product
Trade Map by International Trade Center
One of the best sources of statistics is Trade Map which is designed to provide statistics for international business development. Here you will find statistics regarding international trade for all countries in the world, for all types of products. You can easily find data on: exports from your country, largest importers of your product, most important competitors, developments in recent years and seasonal fluctuations.
Video tutorials: Entering Trade Map (YouTube)
Go to Trade Map
Access2Markets by the European Commission
If you are specifically interested in the EU and/or the Swedish market, you can also use the Access2Markets portal where you can find detailed trade flows for all EU countries both between EU member states and with countries outside the EU. You can also get information on custom duties, import procedures and product specific requirements for imports to the EU.
Video presentation: Access2Markets presentation (europa.eu)
Go to Access2Markets
Get further support
Contact us at Open Trade Gate Sweden in case you need help getting started with your research. We can assist you in looking up trade data and guide you how to use it with help of practical templates. You will need to share with us information on your products. Try to be as specific as you can in your question in order for us to provide a relevant answer.