Government published data

For the UK-based company researching overseas' markets the starting point will almost certainly be the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The services provided by the DTI are comprehensive and vary in sophistication and depth. The service is a useful springboard and even if the information required is not available a number of new leads may be created.

The DTI maintains a library of publications for marketing at Trade Partners. Information sources include the following:

Foreign statistics

These cover trade and production data, prices, employment, population and transport. An online service is available which can be used to search selected trade statistics. The use of this information can be extremely rewarding. Trade and production data can give a useful guide to consumption levels in a country. It is possible to arrive at apparent consumption by using the simple calculation of production plus imports less exports, which should equal that which remains in the country for consumption. This is only a broad guide, but it can be quite accurate, especially in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) markets in which there is high turnover of stock. When this information is combined with population figures, per capita consumption figures can be calculated. Often this data is presented in volume and value terms, and will give an indication of the market value at manufacturers' prices. If distributor mark-ups are known, then a retail value for the market can be estimated. United Nations (UN) data on exchange rates can then be used to estimate the sterling value.

In concentrated industrial markets data on source of supply by country could identify which competitor is supplying the target market.

For the services sector, international trade data is not readily available and is generally less useful. However, the DTI also covers invisibles and again a visit to Trade Partners is often a requirement for researchers in this area.

Trade Partners UK Information Centre, Kingsgate House, 66-74 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6SW (Tel: 020 7215 5444, Fax: 020 7215 4231).

Web address:

Trade Partners UK Information Centre can be visited between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm on Mondays to Fridays. Staff are available to help with enquiries. Short enquiries can be dealt with by telephone or by e-mail. The centre holds a list of independent consultants who may be able to undertake research commissions. A full list of DTI services is given in Chapter 4.

Commodity codes

All product sectors are given a code for the purpose of classifying trade data. This is known as the harmonized commodity description system number or commodity code. To use the trade statistics service effectively it is important to identify this number. Codes are contained in the Integrated Tariff of the United Kingdom, which is available at some libraries as well as at some Customs and Excise establishments. Advice on the correct classification can be obtained from local Customs and Excise classification liaison officers, by telephone for an opinion or in writing for a firm ruling. Web address:

The Trade Partners website has links to relevant services in this area. Trade statistics are available from Customs and Excise. Statistics are available on CD-ROM, microfiche or floppy disk. The website has links to other useful sites, including the Tariff.

The Tariff may be ordered from The Stationery Office, publications centre (Tel: 0870 600 5522, Fax: 0870 6005533, E-mail: [email protected])


Directories can be extremely useful in identifying target companies, both for the purposes of research and for selling. The best known directory is Kompass (see Chapter 4), which lists companies by product type and by country. Trade Partners holds a number of directories.

Development plans

These provide a useful guide to the current state of overseas' markets and can be useful in the early stages of assessing a country's attractiveness.

Mail-order catalogues

These are useful to identify competitors in consumer markets. Market research reports

The DTI keeps a number of published research reports. These include its own reports compiled by commercial attachas in overseas' markets and the reports of commercial organizations. The MRS also has reports on different countries, as does the Economist Research Unit.

The DTI is not the only source of government data. The European Union and the UN also publish statistical information on member countries (see Chapter 4). Other national governments provide information services and the commercial information section should be contacted at embassies in London, or for more comprehensive information the commercial information section can be asked for contact details in the country being researched. Other countries may also hold more comprehensive information on those countries with which they have close historical ties, such as the Dutch in Indonesia. In many of these countries a language facility is not vital, for example, the Danish Confederation of Industry provides an excellent information service, and US government departments are also very useful in certain sectors. Foreign governments are important sources of data on markets in their own countries, but they are also looking at overseas' markets for their own exporters, and this can be useful.

Other important secondary data sources are listed in Chapter 4, along with omnibus and specialist research services.

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