Trade in goods and services and the single market – why does it matter?
Trade in goods and services is one of the key mechanisms fostering competition, consumer choice and the efficient allocation of resources in the single market.
This section measures the level of integration of trade in goods and services in the single market by looking at indicators at both national and EU levels.
Performance indicators at national level
SMEs in the industrial sector with exports of goods to other EU countries
This indicator measures the share of SMEs reporting dispatches of goods to other EU countries, based on value added tax (VAT) data. The share is calculated by dividing the number of exporting SMEs (nominator) by the total number of SMEs (denominator).
Higher shares mean that a bigger number of SMEs have the ability to trade across borders. As these values are based on VAT data, they are at the conservative end and are likely to underestimate the real share of exporting SMEs.
In 2020, 15.48% of SMEs in the EU’s industrial sector exported goods to other EU countries. On average, this share fell between 2017 and 2020 (by 7.93%), reflecting the downturn in exports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data only cover the industrial sector, i.e. NACE codes B, C, D and E.
Micro-enterprises are included. VAT data are used to estimate the number of traders and the trade value of the smallest traders, which are exempted from Intrastat reporting. These traders account for a limited share of trade value – at most 3 % of the total value of exports within the EU and 7% of the total value of imports within the EU – but represent the majority in terms of number of businesses.
No 2020 data available for Malta, and no growth rates are available for Cyprus and Malta because 2017 data are missing.
Performance indicators at EU level
Trends in trade within the EU and with the rest of the world
This indicator measures single market integration by the development of trade within the EU and with the rest of the world over time. Trade is defined as the average between imports and exports. Data are in nominal values and monthly.
The first chart shows the coefficient of variation of prices (in purchasing power parity GDP) for the EU. This is an indicator of price dispersion across Member States.
The second chart shows the average growth rate of the coefficient.
The chart reveals another side of the EU economy’s integration: the significant decrease in price divergence since the 1990s, which continues to fall. This decrease is the expected result of further market integration. The coefficient of variation has dropped from approximately 45% to 25% in the course of a generation.