Trade by enterprise size

Key findings

  • Although between 25 and 70% of exporting firms are micro enterprises, i.e. with less than 10 employees, they account for only a limited share of total export value.

  • Micro-enterprises in wholesale and retail trade services play an important role in driving international trade. They comprise around three-quarters of all enterprises in the sector that engage in international trade, and around 15-50% of all imports and exports of the sector.

  • The export (import) value to turnover ratio is generally higher the larger the firm and the smaller the economy. Ireland and the Netherlands, home to many foreign multinationals with high use of intellectual property, have the highest export to turnover ratios in the OECD,

Relevance

Differences in trade participation across size classes and countries can highlight important barriers to participation in international trade, particularly for smaller firms, and in turn stress the importance of examining indirect channels of integration into global value chains.

Definitions

The shares of exporters (importers) by enterprise size are calculated as the ratio of the number of exporters (importers) in each size class over the total number of exporters (importers).

The shares of exports (imports) by enterprise size are calculated as the ratio of the value of exports (imports) by each size class over the total value of exports (imports).

Export (import) value to turnover ratio is defined as the ratio of the value of exports (imports) of exporting (importing) enterprises to the total turnover of all enterprises.

Average value of exports (imports) per enterprise is defined as the value of exports (imports) divided by the number of exporting (importing) enterprises.

Comparability

Not all firms are able to be matched in trade and business registers. Typically the unmatched cases relate to smaller enterprises, as the small average trade values for these unallocated firms suggests. For this reason, Figures 5.8 and 5.10 include all unallocated firms and values in the SME population.

Data that reflect direct export (and import) channels only may understate the true underlying scale of integration within global value chains, particularly by size class. For example, upstream SME producers of intermediates may participate in global value chains by supplying goods and services to larger exporting firms. Similarly, many small firms may export (and import) via intermediary wholesalers.

Data shown in Figures 5.8 and 5.10 result from the combination of OECD SDBS and TEC databases. Coverage of firms in the two databases may differ, if different thresholds exist or different statistical units are used for recording the number of firms.

Source

OECD Structural and Demographic Business Statistics (SDBS) (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/sdbs-data-en.

OECD Trade by Enterprise Characteristics Database (TEC), http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TEC1_REV4.

Further reading

OECD (2016), “Who’s Who in International Trade: A Spotlight on OECD Trade by Enterprise Characteristics data”, OECD Insights Blog, http://oecdinsights.org/2016/04/25/statistical-insights-whos-who-in-international-trade-a-spotlight-on-oecd-trade-by-enterprise-characteristics-data/.

OECD (2009), “Top Barriers and Drivers to SME Internationalisation”, Report by the OECD Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship, OECD, https://www.oecd.org/cfe/smes/43357832.pdf.

Figure 5.7. Share of exporters and importers
Percentage of all exporters (importers) and of total export (import) value, 2015, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933564272

Figure 5.8. Export value to turnover ratio, by enterprise size, industry
Export value as percentage of turnover, 2014, or latest available year
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933564291

Figure 5.9. Average value of exports per enterprise, by enterprise size, industry
Million US dollars, 2015, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933564310

Figure 5.10. Import value to turnover ratio, by enterprise size, industry
Import value as percentage of turnover, 2014, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933564329

Figure 5.11. Average value of imports per enterprise by enterprise size, industry
Million US dollars, 2015, or latest available year
picture

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933564348