Focus on enterprise characteristics (TEC) - International trade in goods

Focus on enterprise characteristics (TEC)


The main objective of the trade in goods statistics by enterprise characteristics (TEC) is to bridge two major statistical domains which have traditionally been compiled and used separately, business statistics and ITGS. Specifically, this new domain was created to answer questions such as:

  • What kind of businesses are behind the trade flows of goods?
  • What is the contribution of a particular activity sector to trade?
  • What is the share of small and medium-sized enterprises to total trade?
  • What is the share of enterprises that trade with a certain partner country and the amount of trade value they account for?

For this purpose, the trade in goods between countries is broken down by economic activity, size-class of enterprises, trade concentration, geographical diversification and products traded. The new information is used to carry out more sophisticated kinds of analysis, e.g. to evaluate the role of European companies in the context of globalization or to assess the impact of international trade in goods on employment, production and value added, essential in a globalised world where economies are increasingly interconnected.

Available datasets

TEC data are grouped into ten datasets, each one focussing on a specific aspect:

Dataset (click on the title for short description) Data
TEC1 – Trade by type of trader

This indicator provides information on how traders are involved in international trade. It shows the number of companies trading within only one flow or in both flows and the trade value these companies account for.

TEC2 – Trade by activity sector and enterprise size class

Trade by activity sector and employment size class shows the contributions of economic activities and size classes (measured in terms of number of employees) to total trade. This allows the impact of international trade on employment to be analysed and the importance of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to be estimated.

TEC3 – Concentration of trade by activity

International trade being typically dominated by a few businesses, this indicator shows the share of the total trade accounted for by the top 5, 10, 20, etc. companies.

TEC4 – Trade by partner country and activity

Trade by partner country shows how many companies were trading with certain partner countries or country zones, and the value they accounted for. This indicator enables the most typical export or import markets to be identified.

TEC5 – Trade by number of partner countries and activity

Trade by number of partner countries shows how geographically diversified the export markets are. For imports, it shows the number of countries from which goods are imported.

TEC6 – Trade by commodity and activity

Trade by commodity and activity sector allocates the trade of each commodity to the activity of the trading enterprise. This indicator shows which sectors were involved in the trading of each product group.

TEC8 – Trade by type of ownership

The type of ownership is referring to the concept of control and to affiliation of an enterprise. It indicates whether an enterprise is domestically or foreign controlled and, if domestically controlled, whether it has affiliates abroad or not. This indicator can be used to analyse the impact of globalisation on international trade and to estimate the importance of multinational companies for trade.

TEC9 – Trade by export intensity

Export intensity categorises enterprises according to the importance of foreign markets in their sales. It refers to the share of exports in total turnover.

TEC10 – Trade by activity sector

In comparison with trade by activity and enterprise size class (first dataset), this indicator provides more details on the activity sector (2- or 3-digit level) but does not contain information about the enterprise size.

TEC11 – Trade by partner country and size class

This indicator aims to give insights into the internationalisation of small- and medium sized enterprises. It complements indicator 3 on trade by partner country and activity by applying the same detailed breakdown of partner countries but categorising enterprises by size class instead of activity sector.


Data compilation and update

The reporting of ITGS by enterprise characteristics requires Member States to produce a dataset independent of their monthly trade statistics. This requirement was included in the revised Intrastat and Extrastat Regulations that came into force from the reference years 2009 and 2010 respectively. Statistics on trade by enterprise characteristics are compiled by linking intra- and extra-EU trade micro-data with business register data. The European business statistics compilers’ manual for trade by enterprise characteristics provides the necessary definitions, instructions and methodological guidance for the regular compilation of TEC statistics.

Statistics by enterprise characteristics are updated once a year with a new reference year. Historical data are exceptionally revised.