Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below, you will find an overview of answers to frequently asked questions. If you cannot find an answer to your question, please contact us.


What is CBI?

CBI (Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries) is a Dutch governmental organisation. Our mission is to support the transition towards inclusive and sustainable economies. We do this by strengthening the sustainability of SMEs in developing countries. We encourage exports of value-added products and services to Europe and the local region of SMEs.  

We support SMEs:

  • through sustainable development projects; and
  • by providing high-quality market information.

    If you want to know more about our market intelligence platform, please visit our market information page. If you want to know more about CBI, where we work, our experience and our approach, visit the about CBI page.
What does the acronym CBI stand for?

Our English name is the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries. But CBI is an abbreviation of our Dutch name ‘Centrum ter Bevordering van Import uit ontwikkelingslanden’.

We have used the abbreviation of our Dutch name for a long time. It is well known in the industry, which is why we still use it today.

How long has CBI existed?

CBI started in 1971. In 2021, we celebrated 50 years of CBI! For inspirational stories of what we have achieved during this period, please see our interactive CBI 50 years infographic.

Can I hire CBI to get export advice?

No, CBI is a governmental organisation, not a commercial company. CBI does not give direct, paid export advice. CBI does not trade or facilitate trade between companies via its website. CBI does not supply lists of importers, give advice or invest financially in businesses.

Still, through our free market information, you can find the tools and knowledge you need to prepare yourself to enter the European market.

What is CBI’s strategy for sustainable development?

In 2021, we revised our strategy and made a new and ambitious strategy for 2021-2025. This strategy emphasises facilitating the transition towards inclusive and sustainable economies. We do this by strengthening the sustainability of SMEs in developing countries.   

If you want to know more about our strategy, download the CBI Strategy 2021-2025 document.

Where is CBI active?

CBI focuses on 24 countries. Please see our list of CBI countries for a complete overview. Currently, we are still active in countries besides those on our list. Look at our active projects to find out where.  

Which sectors is CBI active in?

CBI is active in 3 main sectors, agriculture, consumer products and services, and 14 sub-sectors. To view the complete list of sub-sectors, visit the CBI sectors page.  


What are CBI projects about?

CBI identifies economic opportunities for local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in international and regional markets. In our projects, we help SMEs and Business Support Organisations enter these markets and build sustainable trade relations. Usually, our projects run for 4-5 years.

Where does CBI have projects?

CBI continuously starts new projects. For an overview of our starting, active, and past projects, please visit the projects page on our website.

Can I take part in a CBI project?

As an exporter, you can only participate in projects after successful application via our website. You can apply to projects in sectors and countries that are open for applications. Go to ‘Starting projects’ on the CBI projects page.

You cannot apply for projects that are already active. Some project activities, such as training sessions or webinars, are open to a broader audience. It is a good idea to ask your local export authority, Business Support Organisation or sector association about any upcoming activities.

Please contact our project managers via the relevant project page if you have questions about our starting, active or past projects.

Can CBI start a project in my country?

CBI does a lot of research before starting a new project. The choice to start a new project depends on:

  • the export potential of a product,
  • specific sustainability challenges to be addressed,
  • choices regarding our project portfolio, and
  • the needs and requirements of our financer, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

CBI cannot start a project on short notice but is always open to suggestions. 


What type of events does CBI organise?

We organise events for exporters, Business Support Organisations, and importers, or a combination of these. For example, we organise webinars, live presentations, participation in trade fairs, and matchmaking events.

How do I register for a CBI event?

Go to the CBI events page and browse our current events. Click on the event to open the page. Register by clicking the yellow register button at the bottom and completing the registration form.

Are CBI webinars recorded?

Yes, we record and publish most of our webinars on the CBI website and YouTube channel. See a list of our webinars.
We can also share the presentation slides from the CBI webinar with you.

Are CBI live presentations recorded?

We do not record live presentations at trade fairs or other venues. But, we can often share the slides with you.


What type of news does CBI cover?

CBI publishes the latest news and stories on economic, social and environmental sustainability through exports. 

We cover:

  • Trends, legislation and other developments for all our sectors on the European market. Use the filter option ‘news’.
  • Lessons and results from our business coaching projects. Use the filter option ‘stories’. 
  • Information about our events. Visit our events page.

Market information

Why is market information important?

Many businesses that want to export their products do not know where to start. CBI helps by providing extensive research and relevant knowledge.

Years of experience have shown that companies that study their target markets and invest time and effort into making an export marketing plan perform better than their peers.

Who carries out the market studies?

CBI cooperates with renowned experts in different sectors. CBI does not create the market studies; it commissions them via its extensive network of professionals. These professionals collect the necessary information through analysis of trade streams and interviews with relevant parties. You can find the authors at the bottom of each study.

How does CBI choose which studies to create?

For each sector, CBI publishes product studies for specific products. CBI selects these products based on:

  • their market potential,
  • the economic impact for CBI focus countries,
  • and alignment with CBI’s values, for example, sustainability and the potential to add value.
How can I enter the European market with my product or service?

Entering a new market is a big step. To help you, CBI provides useful information. First, you need to meet the specific product requirements of your target market. Next, you have to find buyers. CBI does not provide lists of buyers but can help you find buyers on your own. It is also important to stay informed on the demand for your product and the current trends.

How you enter the European market depends on the sector/product you are trading in or the country you are exporting to. CBI has over 400 studies on specific products and countries and over 140 on sectors.

We advise you to look at our sector pages for studies tailored to your needs. Another good resource is the CBI guide on how to export to Europe.

Can CBI  provide me with a list of buyers?

CBI cannot provide you with a list of buyers. But, we can give you tips on how to find buyers in your sector.  With these tips, you can create your own list of potential buyers that suit your company. 

I would like to know more about a specific study.

If you have read one of our studies but still have questions, contact us for more information.

Can CBI help finance my business?

CBI is a Dutch governmental organisation and does not invest directly in businesses abroad. In selected sectors/countries, CBI helps SMEs improve exports of value-added products to Europe and their local region via projects.  Visit the projects page for more information.

If you are looking for financial help, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency may provide some options. You may also be eligible for the Dutch Good Growth Fund. Please visit their website for more information. They also have a website in French. If you are a Dutch importer, you can apply for financing through Invest International.

I have a question about doing business in Europe.

The CBI ‘Tips for Doing Business with European Buyers’ study answers the question: How to build a successful business relationship with European buyers.

Please take a look at this list of studies on doing business.

What trends offer opportunities for my product in the European market?

One trend which is becoming more and more important in Europe is sustainability. Still, which trends shape demand and offer the most opportunities for your business differs per sector.

CBI has created studies on the most important market trends in 14 sectors. You can use these studies to:

  • Find new applications for products,
  • Adapt your products,
  • Introduce new products,
  • Invest in new technologies,
  • Enter new country markets,
  • Leave country markets,
  • Focus on specific niche markets, and
  • Change communication strategies, and much more.
How can I stay up to date on the new studies CBI publishes?  

CBI sends a monthly email newsletter that provides an overview of new studies published during the previous month. You can choose to receive information for all sectors or a selection of sectors. Subscribe to the CBI newsletter.

I have a sector or product-specific question.

For specific questions on your sector or product, look at our studies.

For each sector, we have studies which look at:

CBI also has studies that provide you with practical tips. These include tips to:

Lastly, CBI offers product studies and country studies on most products with European export potential.

How can I do my own market research?

The CBI website and market studies are a good place to start. At the bottom of each sector page, under ‘Other sources’, you can find resources that might be relevant to you.

If you need support doing research, your local business support organisation, export promotion authority or sector association might be able to help you.

Also, visit the websites of CBI’s European partners to find additional market research.

What are HS codes, and how do I find them?

HS code stands for ‘Harmonised System Code’. Each code has at least 6 digits. Customs uses these codes to accurately calculate taxes and duties and apply any necessary regulations. The World Customs Organization has created HS codes for every product or group of products. You can find the codes on your country’s government website. You can also use HS code search tools online. Type in a detailed description of the goods you are shipping, and you will get the corresponding code. For more information on HS codes, watch this video.


Is CBI interested in my business opportunity?

CBI is a governmental organisation and cannot engage in any business offer. We can help you find people who are interested. Please see the answer to ‘How can I enter the European market for my product?’ to learn what CBI can do for you.

I am an expert in my field and would like to offer my services to CBI.

We welcome experts that want to work with us to help SMEs from developing countries export to Europe.

Are you an expert in market studies and analyses or a consultant who can help us in our target countries? Please complete our survey so we can add you to our expert database. This will help us find you when we need your services. If you have any questions about our expert database, please email us.

I am an importer and would like to buy from an SME in a developing country.

Great! Please look at our projects to see if there are products you are interested in. You can then contact us directly via the project page.

For products that current projects do not offer, you can browse through past projects to find out which companies we have supported.

Is it possible to interview a CBI expert?

Please contact us so that we can forward your request to the appropriate expert.