ITC Shares

Unleashing export potential through data

12 December 2017
Anna Jankowska-Eriksson, International Trade Centre

ITC adds Export Potential Map to its suit of data tools empowering businesses, TISIs, and policymakers

Technology, globalization and global value chains are creating countless opportunities for export growth every day. Nevertheless, the task of assessing and comparing such opportunities can be daunting, complex and costly for businesses, policymakers and negotiators working to maximize gains from connecting to the global marketplace.

Moreover, identifying untapped potential for export growth and opportunities for successful diversification is critical for striking lucrative business deals; empowering specialists working in trade promotion agencies- and putting in place sustainable and cohesive economic development policies ensuring inclusive growth in the rapidly evolving global economy.


It was in response to such challenges that the International Trade Centre (ITC) earlier this year launched Export Potential Map. A forward-looking and free tool, it turns the demanding process of discerning and evaluating export opportunities into a simple and pleasant task for all. The innovation brings big data to the service of export development by providing comparable information about untapped potential across products and markets. It turns economic analysis into practical trade information, revealing untapped opportunities for export growth. It also offers opportunities for diversification with favourable chances of export success for 222 countries and territories across 4,046 products.

Since its launch, Export Potential Map has logged some 11,000 session by more than 5,400 users. The tool also won the prestigious German Design Award for Excellent Communications Design – Web thanks to its user-friendly interface and innovative visuals, which can easily be embedded into websites and print reports.

The map brings together detailed information about export performance; market access; economic growth; demand; access to resources; and the strength of bilateral trade relationships, allowing users to produce targeted and robust results. These can provide a crucial input for those seeking new business opportunities, working in export promotion at trade and investment support institutions (TISIs) and policymakers looking to design coherent and effective economic development policies.


Businesses meanwhile can use Export Potential Map for a quick scan of markets holding untapped potential for their products or products having unrealized potential in specific markets for additional export growth.

A rapid search allows companies to assess the potential export value of their products in dollar terms, providing directly comparable information about potential opportunities across markets they sell to as well as those they have not yet entered. Through additional market research, businesses can understand the specificities of new product markets and adjust their export strategies to seize these opportunities. The tool can be particularly useful for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing challenges in performing sophisticated and costly market analysis on their own.


For TISIs, Export Potential Map is a powerful new ally in their work to provide guidance to businesses on promising export opportunities and for maximizing the effectiveness of their own export marketing campaigns.

The tool delivers targeted information on promising markets for thousands of products as well as information on exporters that can be useful for businesses looking for new suppliers to integrate into their value chains. With information on untapped market potential, TISIs can prioritize their actions to support businesses in taking advantage of these lucrative opportunities.

INCLUSIVE GROWTH What a country exports matters for its growth prospects, its opportunities for structural transformation and the linkages created within the domestic economy. As such, deciding which sectors warrant export promotion, public investments and infrastructure improvements is a critical.

For such purposes, Export Potential Map provides policymakers with an overview of the sectors holding the greatest promise in their economies. Information on a country’s export and diversification potential can help shape export and economic development strategies by identifying the sectors that are best placed to drive growth and ensuring coherence with the relevant complimentary policies to support their development.

The tool can also be useful for analysing how gains from trade could be distributed across economies. A recent joint project between ITC and the International Labour Organization used information on untapped export potential to estimate potential impact on employment across sectors as well as by gender in six pilot countries.

Linking export opportunities with employment effects provides policymakers with a direct comparison of the formal jobs likely to be created across sectors if export potential is realized.

This type of analysis allows policymakers to evaluate how the gains from trade could be distributed within the domestic economy depending on which sectors are prioritized. This demonstrates how access to multifaceted and robust information on untapped export opportunities can help inform government officials about the trade-offs their country faces in potential export revenue, technological advancement, linkages to the domestic economy and the distribution of gains from trade.