Benefits of International Trade With Europe (And How to Start!)

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Here’s a fun fact: The European Union (EU) stands as one of the world’s largest markets with 27 members and over 500 million consumers. With an immense number of new buyers in this part of the world, Malaysian SMEs can benefit from an abundance of international trade opportunities when it comes to trading in the EU. 

According to the third edition of the Top 500 Cross-Border Retail Europe report, which compiles cross-border data from some of Europe’s biggest retailers, 25.5% of e-commerce in Europe was cross-border in 2020. Cross-border e-commerce revenues in Europe (travel not included) also amounted to €146 billion in the same year, outperforming cross-border online sales revenues in 2019 by 35%. This can be attributed to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and lockdowns, which resulted in shifts in consumer shopping behaviours

Such shifts are expected to persist even post-pandemic, so now is the perfect opportunity for SMEs to start trading with Europe!

Trading in the EU: Key e-commerce insights to leverage 

With the e-commerce boom in Europe and around the world, it is hardly surprising that many businesses are now looking to expand their markets. If you are considering to trade with the EU, here are some useful insights derived from Nets’ 2020 e-commerce report, which surveyed 11,000 consumers across eight European countries: 

  1. In Poland, 42% of people have been shopping online more since the pandemic.

  2. In all surveyed countries, clothes and food were the most purchased items online. In Austria, physical goods accounted for 68% of all money spent online. 

  3. In Denmark, 58% of online shopping was spent on clothes, food and alcohol, and takeaway food.

  4. In Germany, an estimated value of €26 billion were spent on clothes in 2020.

  5. Lower prices are a key consideration factor for Europeans when it comes to purchasing items from abroad. 

  6. Difficulty in returning items is the biggest deal-breaker for Europeans when it comes to shopping abroad, followed by long delivery times. 

  7. 92% of Europeans intend to shop online to buy apparel, toys and baby supplies, consumer electronics and entertainment at home post-COVID-19.

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Why should SMEs consider trading with Europe?

As one of the largest economies in the world committed to free trade, the EU is well-positioned to facilitate international trade. Since the EU is also one of the most open economies in the world, businesses can benefit from lower import tariffs. In 2019, about 63% of EU’s imports entered at zero tariffs, according to Eurostat report. Today, the EU has 29 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 40 countries and territories outside of the union. Such trade deals allow countries to reap the advantages of accessing one of the world’s largest networks of preferential trade relations. 

How to start trading with Europe

Before you begin trading in the EU, there are a few key considerations. Firstly, market research is vital. Narrow down on the countries that you wish to target and consider the demographics of your target market. You may also wish to look up import figures of products similar to your own and any potential competition. Once you have decided on your target market and come up with a market entry strategy, familiarise yourself with the import requirements and necessary documentation for trading in the EU. You may also find the EU Trade Helpdesk a useful resource for any related information about trading with Europe.

What are you waiting for? Start exporting to Europe today!