Cross-border trade with Western Europe mostly means to trade with the European Union (European Union). There is, of course, the odd case of the United Kingdom and perhaps - if we extend the traditional Western Europe list of countries - we could add the likes of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. But, for all intents and purposes, trading with Western Europe is trading with the EU.
And that means to trade with one of the world’s biggest and more cohesive multinational economic superpowers. In fact, no other region has achieved a degree of territorial, economic, and - to a degree - political integration like the UE.
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The traditional list of nations that form part of Western Europe are:
The United Kingdom.
According to the CIA classification
This poses its own set of challenges and benefits: selling in one country means to be able to sell in all others, and not being able to trade with one, probably will mean not being able to trade with anyone inside the EU.
The whole idea of creating a union among Wester European countries was, in fact, an economic idea: to create a free trade zone in the entire region. And as such, this concept has proven to be remarkably profitable for every country inside the EU.
From 1999 to 2010, EU foreign trade doubled and now accounts for over 30% of the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP). The EU is responsible for the trade policy of the member countries and negotiates agreements for them. Speaking as one voice, the EU carries more weight in international trade negotiations than each individual member would.
This “unified front, and single voice” policy has led to multiple bilateral agreements - where the EU acts as a single part - with many different countries and trade regions. These agreements define the rules, tariffs, and conditions for both importing and exporting goods. You can check this list for each current trade agreement that the EU has all over the World.
As a rule of thumb, there are three different types of agreements:
There are three main types of agreement:
Perhaps one of the only things that the EU has not achieved, nor it intends on doing so, is language unification. In that sense, the EU is crisscrossed by multiple languages.
This is the list of the official languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.
This means that, for a product or service to be successful, you will need to localize it - to translate it - into the language of the region or nation you intend to sell.
With such a large array of possible markets, the best option will be to narrow down the markets of your interest that share a common language and start there.
Another great option is to outsource this, by hiring companies that are specialized in offering customer support and localization services for trade and commerce, such as SalesSupply. These companies already provide customer support and logistic services in multiple languages, thus becoming fundamental partners for any business that wishes to trade in the EU territories.
Also, even when we talk about one region, from the economic and political perspective, the cultural reality of the EU is extremely diverse. Products that might work wonders in Germany, perhaps are not so well received by the Danish or the French. Keep this in mind, and always try to do at least basic market research on each of the nations or regions you want to trade.
Importing and exporting goods into and from the EU is ruled by specific product regulations for each different product category. To ease the complexity of finding out which products are bound by which regulations, the EU has enabled a web service called Access2Markets.
This online platform allows importers and exporters to find all the details, regulations, and information needed for each specific product or sector.
In addition to key country-by-country information about export and import conditions, Access2Markets has
Access2Markets is available in all 24 official EU languages and in a responsive and mobile-friendly layout.
One of the main aspects of the EU’s trade policies is the fairness of trade. According to the EU principles: for trade to be free, it must be fair.
And to achieve this “leveled playfield” the EU uses trade-defense instruments based on World Trade Organization rules.
These instruments have a wide range of possible economic and even political sanctions: from preventing unfair subsidization of sectors or products to dismantling monopolies and even prohibiting the trade of products that could be considered harmful for both the EU population and the overall EU wildlife or ecosystem.
The entire set of rules is fully accessible here
Finally, establishing a cross-border operation with one country inside the EU is the legal equivalent of doing so with the entirety of the EU. In this regard, there is a set of recommendations if you want to trade with any country in Western Europe that belongs to the EU:
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