Countries / Territories

Trade Information Strategies

  • Trade Information Strategies1

    Trade information is the lifeblood of trade development, as any decision related to international trade relies on high-quality trade information.

    The private sector needs effective trade information sources and services to identify commercial opportunities, confirm export requirements, and keep up-to-date with market developments and technological trends. Policymakers also need trade information to help them determine which sectors have the highest export and development potential. A trade information strategy ensures that both needs are met.

    Trade information

    Trade information can be defined as any information needed by someone to help them to make international marketing decisions and plan, execute, or facilitate an international trade transaction.

    This definition includes product information, domestic economic information, target market information, and information on services provided by a range of trade support functions. More specifically, trade information is often composed of information on production techniques and processes, customer profiles and preferences, licensing information, tariffs and non-tariff measures, trade agreements, and market trends and forecasts.

    In order for trade information to be useful, it must be up-to-date and reliable. Up-to-date market information allows firms and policymakers to understand the commercial landscape of both existing and potential markets. Such data facilitates the continued competitiveness of products and may permit enterprises to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

    Reliable information can be used to stay ahead of new trends and demands, thereby allowing enterprises to design, develop and modify products based on the requirements of target markets. Moreover, reliable information on international standards and regulations allows exporters to design products in accordance with the compliance principles of target markets.

    Overall, trade information is important for the following functions of market development:

    Common trade information challenge



    Common trade information challenges

    While a trade information environment will vary from country to country, some challenges are common to many countries. For example, enterprises face the following trade information challenges in many circumstances:

    • Lack of knowledge on what kind of information is required to export;

    • Insufficient awareness of trade information sources;

    • Weak skills to navigate trade information sources and analyse the resulting data;

    • Lack of networking, alliances, and cross-pollination of information among enterprises; and

    • Weak integration of trade information within the decision-making framework.

    Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly affected by trade information challenges. Lack of awareness or access to information is a well-known constraint faced by these companies. A lack of information on business requirements can act as a barrier for these enterprises to internationalise. In addition, the complexity of monitoring evolving trade requirements puts a heavier burden on the limited resources of these companies.

    Trade information is furnished by a wide range of providers which have their own challenges. Common challenges by trade information providers include:

    • Limited capacity and influence,

    • Lack of skills in the area of trade information provision,

    • Weak coordination between providers leading to duplication or gaps in trade information provision,

    • Long data processing times leading to the publishing of largely out of date information, and

    • Contradictory information between providers due to differing classification approaches and methodologies.

    A trade information strategy will identify the unique constraints affecting the country and design a path to improve competitiveness for its businesses and priority sectors.


    Who designs the strategy?

    Within a National Export Strategy or a stand-alone Trade Information Strategy, ITC works with the country's government, private sector and stakeholders to design the strategy. The design of the strategy follows the ITC's Approach.

    What is the strategy seeking to achieve?

    The provision of trade information relies on a set of trade support institutions working together to deliver enterprises the trade information services they need to become or remain successful exporters. Thus, a trade information strategy seeks to improve the set of services provided by these institutions.

    What is addressed by the strategy?

    As an ITC export strategy, the strategy is tailored to the country's needs. In general, all trade information strategies address the following questions:

     What is addressed by the strategy?

    ITC and stakeholders will go through each of these questions to understand the trade information environment of the country and identify constraints affecting competitiveness. Together, they will determine the vision of the strategy and its strategic objectives.

    The strategy culminates with a detailed plan of action which sets priorities and assigns responsibilities to deal with the identified constraints and leverage the opportunities that can be delivered through the strategy.

    If you would like to learn more, please contact us.


    Enquiries should be directed to:

    Anton Said

    Chief, Trade Development Strategies Programme
    +41 (0)22 730-0588