What is Going on Over There? –Three Online Resources for Global Market Intelligence

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by Christopher Lynch

Exporters have to be customer centric. But, in addition to customers, exporters need to be aware of economic, political or social trends that could affect demand for the products or services. A change in the exchange rate from political decisions by a populist government can wipe out a market. A decision to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement can signal new market opportunities.

The exporter doesn’t have time to be the political analyst or economist – but there are some great online resources that I recommend for their accuracy and timeliness:

  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit:  The EIU, a subsidiary of The Economist magazine, compiles economic and political data on every country around the globe. Because it is data driven, it is able to produce up-to-date analyses of what is going on in a market – macroeconomic data, key demographic and social trends and political outlook. I usually refer to the monthly reports for the best information, although the annual ones cover the country in much greater detail. I met regularly with the EIU country analysts when I was an international economist at various US Embassies and the analysts are competent and highly professional. My only caveat is that, being based in London, they view the world through British eyes. There is a fairly hefty annual fee to subscribe to the EIU – if you have a significant international operation, it is worth it. However, if you are a small or occasional exporter, your local public or university/community college library will let you have access at no cost.
  2. Country Commercial Guide: The Country Commercial Guide is produced by the US Commercial Service and is available at no cost to the public through www.export.gov. Updated annually, the Guides give an overview of the political and economic environment, tips on doing business in the country, trade regulations and investment climate in more than 150 countries and areas. The sections on trade regulations and investment climate can alert you to any impending changes in rules of commerce. Produced at US embassies and consulates around the world, the CCG also draws on the knowledge of the local employees of the Embassy, so the tips on doing business are generally right on. You should download and keep in your online library a  PDF copy of the most recent CCG for every country that you to which you are currently or planning to ship.
  3. Country Fact Sheets: The US Department of State produces and regularly updates a Fact Sheet on each country. It outlines the positives (and sometimes the negatives) on every country or area around the world. Want to know what the official line is – check it out at www.state.gov.

We all know exporting is profitable – you can keep it so by keeping abreast of that latest in your overseas markets with a fifteen-minute read of these online resources!