EU exports support 38 million jobs in the EU according to a report on jobs and trade

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

One of the many figures in a new report released today by the European Commission shows just how important an open trade policy is for European employment. The Trade and Jobs Report provides a host of statistics on European jobs connected to European trade.

The report provides data over time at both European and Member State level, and gives statistics by industry, skill level, gender etc. For example, it shows that over 38 million jobs in the EU are supported by EU exports, 11 million more than a decade ago. These jobs are on average 12% better paid than those of the economy as a whole. The increase in export-supported jobs follows an even stronger increase in EU exports: alongside a 75% increase in export-related jobs between 2000 and 2019, total exports increased by 130%. The data indicate clearly that more trade means more jobs, and the best way to increase this is through securing new opportunities through trade agreements and diligently enforcing them. Given that 93% of all EU exporters are small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), it is also vital to help them understand opportunities and terms offered by a comprehensive network of 45 trade agreements concluded by the EU.

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: “These figures confirm that trade is a key driver for job growth in the EU, as shown by the astonishing 75% growth in export-related jobs in the last two decades. As economic recovery gathers pace, it is our priority to keep boosting exports and create markets for EU goods and services. This will support our companies – especially SMEs, which represent 93% of all EU exporters – to create jobs for people across the EU. The continued roll-out of our new EU trade strategy, with its strong emphasis on opening new opportunities and being assertive in implementing our trade agreements, will play a crucial role in reinforcing this trend.”

Trade creates and supports jobs all across the EU, and the numbers are increasing. The highest increases seen since 2000 have been in Bulgaria (+368%), Slovakia (+287%), Ireland (+202%), Slovenia (+184%) and Estonia (+173%). The report includes detailed factsheets about the results for every EU Member State.

The figures released today also highlight an important positive spillover effect within the EU from exports to the world. When EU exporters in one Member State do well, workers in other Member States also benefit. This is because firms providing goods and services along the supply chain also gain when their end-customer sells the final product abroad. To give an example, French exports to non-EU countries support around 658,000 jobs in other EU Member States, while Polish exports support 200,000 such jobs.

Moreover, EU exports to countries around the world support almost 24 million jobs outside the EU. These jobs have more than doubled since 2000. For instance, 1.5 million jobs in the United States, 2.2 million in India and 530,000 in Turkey are supported by the production of goods and services in those counties that are incorporated into EU exports through global supply chains.

Finally, the study also looks into the gender pattern, concluding that there are more than 14 million women in jobs supported by trade in the EU.


The European Commission identified trade policy as a core component of the European Union’s 2020 Strategy. Given the fast-changing global economic landscape it is more important than ever to fully understand how trade flows affect employment. This can only be done by gathering comprehensive, reliable and comparable information and analysis to support evidence-based policymaking.

Guided by that objective, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade have collaborated to produce a publication that aims to be a valuable tool for trade policymakers and researchers.

Following the first edition from 2015, the report features a series of indicators to illustrate in detail the relationship between trade and employment for the EU as a whole and for each EU Member State using the World Input-Output Database released in 2016 as the main data source. This information has been complemented with data on employment by age, skill and gender. All the indicators relate to the EU exports to the world to reflect the scope of EU trade policymaking.

Although this report and analysis focus on exports for methodological reasons, it is important to note that imports are vital for the EU economy as well. Indeed, they are also essential for our domestic production and exports; two-thirds of the EU’s imports consist of raw materials, parts and components, many of which find their way into the EU’s exported goods and services. Access to the best inputs is a critical factor for EU production and competitiveness in today’s world.

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