Enlargement - international trade statistics
From Statistics Explained
- Data from November 2010. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article focuses on the structure and evolution of the external trade in goods in the candidate countries and potential candidates to the membership in the European Union (EU) and is based on the Pocketbook on the enlargement countries – 2011 edition. Both imports and exports are covered. It also provides information on the trade balance and a breakdown by selected product groups. A number of figures on international trade in goods have been aggregated (as a share of GDP) for the EU-27 and for selected enlargement countries.
Main statistical findings
Deficits on international trade in goods
The total value of the EU-27’s exports of goods to the rest of the world increased by almost 30 % between 2000 and 2009. Every enlargement country apart from Montenegro saw their exports grow faster than those of the EU-27 in recent years. In Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Turkey, exports more than doubled. Only in Montenegro did exports decrease (by almost 40 %) between 2005 and 2009. The EU-27’s imports of goods grew by just over 20 % between 2000 and 2009. As regards enlargement countries, a drop in imports between 2000 and 2009 was only registered for Iceland (by 8 %), while the other countries recorded a rise well above the EU-27’s growth of 20 %.
The EU-27’s deficit in goods trade was just under 5 % of total trade in 2009 (exports and imports combined), a decrease from almost 8 % in 2000. Iceland was the only enlargement country to show a surplus (of EUR 324 million) in 2009. In both 2000 and 2009 the deficit registered in Kosovo represented over 80% of total trade; in Albania over 60 %. The most notable change in the overall values was recorded by Serbia, which saw its deficit decrease from 36 % of total trade to 9 % between 2000 and 2009, and by Montenegro, which recorded an increase in deficit from 36 % to 71 % between 2005 and 2009.
The value of EU-27’s exports of goods were equal to just over 9 % of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009. In Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro the share of exports in GDP did not exceed the EU-27 level. In all the other enlargement countries the percentage was much higher, particularly in Iceland and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where exports represented over one third of GDP (according to the latest data available). The total value of EU-27’s imports were equal to just over 10 % of GDP in 2009. The corresponding ratios of the enlargement countries reached higher values, most notably in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro, where they equaled more than one half of the national GDP (according to the latest data available).
The main trading partner for the enlargement countries
The EU-27 has long been the main trading partner for the enlargement countries. According to the latest data available, over 75 % of Albanian and Icelandic exports went to the EU-27. Even the countries with the lowest rates in this category, recorded in Kosovo and Turkey, were around 45 %. Looking at imports, Kosovo and Montenegro received less than 40 % of the total value of imports from the EU-27, whereas in Albania and Croatia this share amounted to over 60 %.
Manufactured goods excluding machinery and vehicles are generally the most important product category in goods trade
Manufactured goods, excluding machinery and vehicles (‘Other manufactured products’ in Table 3), had the largest share in exports for enlargement countries, with the exception of Croatia and Iceland, (according to the latest information available). This goods category accounted for almost 62 % of Albanian exports, almost 59 % of Montenegro exports for and just over 54 % of Kosovo exports. In 2009, the most important category of goods for Croatian exports, was Machinery and vehicles (29.7 %).In Iceland food and drinks was of prime importance with a share of over 41 % of the total value of that country’s exports.
Manufactured goods, excluding machinery and vehicles, also had the highest share in imports. In most of the enlargement countries, this category had a share of nearly 30 % (on the basis of the latest data available). The exceptions were Iceland and Turkey, where Machinery and vehicles came first (share of 29.3 % and 29 % respectively, similar to the share registered at EU-27 level - 28.5 %).
Data sources and availability
The source of international trade statistics are the annual questionnaires sent to the enlargement countries, as well as Comext which is the Eurostat database containing detailed international trade data for the EU and its Member States. International trade statistics are normally recorded by enlargement countries on the basis of customs declarations submitted by the trader when clearing customs. The statistics on international trade were extracted from Eurostat’s free dissemination database Easy Comext. COMEXT is the Eurostat reference database for international trade. It provides access not only to both recent and historical data from the EU Member States and enlargement countries, but also to statistics of a significant number of third countries. The aggregated data on international trade and the detailed statistics which are disseminated from Eurostat’s website are compiled from COMEXT data on a monthly basis. Note that because COMEXT is updated on a daily basis, data published on the website may sometimes temporarily differ from the data stored in COMEXT.
Trade statistics are of prime importance for both public and private users, as they provide valuable information on the current trends in the exchange of goods within a specific geographical area. Moreover, they enable the EU to prepare multilateral and bilateral negotiations on a common trade policy. Furthermore, international trade statistics support European businesses in their market surveys and improve their competitiveness.
The context in which trade statistics are collected has changed radically in recent years, not only within the European Union but also in enlargement countries. The economic impact of globalisation has had its effect on trade, as well as on the financial flows and the movement of persons linked to cross-border economic activity. In view of the future enlargement of the European Union and taking into account the importance of trade for the candidate and potential candidate countries, as well as ENP countries, the EU has been facing an unprecedented demand for high quality trade statistics to support EU policy decision – making.
Further Eurostat information
- International trade (cpc_et)
- International trade long-term indicators (ext_lti)
- International trade short-term indicators (ext_sti)
- International trade detailed data (detail)
- Other articles on the enlargement countries
- Background articles on international statistical cooperation
- ↑ This article is based on the pocketbook on the enlargement countries - edition 2011 when Croatia was not yet an acceding country and Serbia was not a candidate country. At present Croatia (HR) is an acceding country, to become a Member State of the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013 and Serbia was granted candidate country status on 1 March 2012.