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This article is accurate for the latest versions of EU3, Napoleon's Ambition, In Nomine, Heir to the Throne, and Divine Wind v5.1.
Please help keep this article up to date with the latest patches.

The trade system is an important part of the economy in EU3. Trade is based on the goods created from the production of provinces, and is accessed through the use of merchants who operate at centers of trade. This page will provide a reference overview detailing exactly how the trading system works. For advice on how to create a successful economy, see the Economic strategy guide.


Center of Trade

This CoT is full (20 merchants) and has 5 levels (523.91 trade value). Our merchants produce 30.01 ducats yearly and we have one more merchant on route with 73.50% placement chance
The province interface shows the icon to Create a CoT in the province near the trade item of the province. In this case not bright as the conditions required are not satisfied.

A Center of Trade (CoT) is a major trading hub for surrounding provinces. The trade goods from these provinces go through the CoT, and merchants there profit from it. Use the Trade Mapmode (lower right corner of screen) to see all provinces that contribute to a particular CoT, or hover your mouse over the "Total value of trade" in the CoT window to see the production income from these provinces.

Making and Owning CoTs

Before NA i.e. Eu III first release and previous; only a few lucky nations could have their own CoTs. Beginning in NA, it is possible for nations to create their own CoTs, satisfying the following requirements for the province where a new CoT is desired:

  • The foreign CoT in which the province currently trades, must be worth more than 300 ducats of overall trade value in NA till HTTT and 800 ducats overall worth in DW/Chronicles.
  • A CoT costs 500 ducats to build.
  • A CoT cannot border another CoT.
  • You must not belong to a Trade League.
  • If all conditions are satisfied:
    • Click on the province where CoT is desired
    • Look near the major trading item in the province shown (right corner)
    • A small hammer icon will be visible
    • Click the hammer and you can construct your CoT

A CoT can also be destroyed. The CoT must have a total value of less than 300 ducats and destroying it will lower prestige by 20. In a province with a CoT the hammer icon will be with a cross (x-mark) on it. Click it to destroy the CoT.

Owning CoTs has several advantages:

  • Added Tax value in CoT province:
    • (IN after v3.1 only) The bonus is a base 2 ducats plus 2 ducats for each level of the CoT.
    • (EU3, NA) The bonus is 10 ducats.
  • Population growth bonus in CoT province:
    • (IN only) The growth bonus is a base 1% growth plus 1% growth for each level of the CoT.
    • (EU3 & NA) The growth bonus is 5%.
  • Every merchant that operates in a CoT pays the nation owning that CoT 3 ducats per year. That appears as Harbor Fees in the budget window.
  • Merchant bonus, 0.5 merchants yearly per CoT.
  • (IN only) Coastal CoTs provide 0.10 colonist bonus/year.

Level of CoT

With IN only, every CoT has a level determined by its total trade value, 1 level for each 100 ducats of value. This level affects the following CoT effects:

  • Added tax value
  • Manpower
  • Population growth


Any nation with level 15 of Trade tech (level 7 in EU3 & NA) will be allowed to create monopolies in centers of trade. Essentially, a sixth merchant must be successfully sent to a CoT to create a monopoly. Arriving merchants do not compete with each other anymore. Everybody arriving to the CoT is targets the merchants of the monopoly holder to try to end the monopoly. Maintaining a monopoly generally requires:

  • High trading technology
  • High prestige
  • Good reputation

The benefits of a monopoly:

  • Receive 20% more revenue than you would with 5 merchants, so that a monopoly counts as 6 merchants for income purposes.
  • Receive the appropriate income for all empty slots in the CoT, as though you had merchants in those, too. This can be quite a lot.
  • Receive 1 extra merchant (multiple monopolies don't give multiple extra merchants).

The drawback is that, when a monopoly is achieved, any other realms trying to place merchants in that COT will, by definition, be competing against your own merchants for a spot. So sometimes monopolies can end up being costly if you constantly have to fight for them (especially if the auto-send feature is on).

However, a nation with a very high competition chance - for example, a large, prestigious mercantilist nation competing in its own COT - can continue to send merchants beyond six. Additional merchants will attempt to compete out foreign merchants, leaving an open slot. Due to the monopoly, each open slot is effectively an additional merchant for the monopoly owner. With a high enough compete chance, the COT owner can control a very large percentage of the total trade value.

Closed Centers of Trade

When your nation discovers a foreign CoT, it will often be closed to your traders. This can be seen in the ledger, where the CoT's name will be listed in red, and in the controlling nations diplomacy screen, where a statement will appear saying "They have closed their market for us". In order to open trade, you can either declare war on the nation that controls the CoT and try to gain control of the province through a peace negotiation, or if you raise relations between your two nations to +50 or higher you can ask for trading to be opened to you (if the AI doesn't open it for you).


While owned CoTs provide any nation a passive form of income from trade, the use of merchants is necessary to take full advantage of the trading system. Each merchant in a CoT earns 5% of the value of the CoT, multiplied by Trade Efficiency, for its home nation each year. Merchants that are able to both secure a position in a CoT and hold it for a long time will make a significant amount of money. Success in either endeavor depends on the relative competitiveness of merchants, which is divided into two parts: the chance to out-compete another merchant, and the chance to place a merchant when there is an empty slot. Beginning with NA, it is possible to auto-send merchants.

Merchant Placement Chance

A CoT has 20 slots for merchants, before it gets full. When the CoT gets full, new merchants must open a new slot by competing an existing one out of the CoT. Once an empty slot is available the chance that the arriving merchant will fill it is the sum of these modifiers:

  • Base chance: 35% placement chance
  • Stability: -15% to 15% placement chance
  • Prestige rank: -10% to 10% placement chance
  • Monarch Administrative skill: +3% placement chance for each skill level (3% to 27%)
  • Trade Efficiency: bonus equal to TE divided by 2
  • Aristocracy/Plutocracy domestic policy: +4% placement chance for every notch right of the center (towards plutocracy)
  • Mercantilism/Free Trade domestic policy: (IN only) +10% placement chance in owned CoTs for every notch left (towards mercantilism) of the center (+50% to 0%)
  • Several events add or subtract to merchant placement chance.

Merchant Compete Chance

Upon arrival to a full CoT a merchant must first compete against a random foreign merchant for a slot. The base success chance is 50% and to that are added several modifiers (shown below) that apply to the new merchant and subtracted the modifiers that apply to the foreign merchant (except the base 50% of course). If they are equal, the chance will be the base 50%. If the new merchant is successful at competing, the foreign merchant is thrown out of a CoT and an empty CoT slot is available. Then the placement chance of the new merchant will determine whether they will actually manage to get in that newly opened slot.

  • Base: 50% compete chance (only applies to arriving merchant)
  • Stability: -3% to 3% compete chance
  • Monarch Administrative skill: +1% compete chance for each skill level (%1 to 9%)
  • Trade Efficiency: bonus equal to TE divided by 2
  • Prestige: -15% to +15% compete chance
  • Badboy score (a.k.a. reputation): -1% competitiveness in foreign CoTs for each BB point
  • (EU3 before v1.3) Owning a CoT with non-accepted culture: -15% competitiveness in foreign CoTs for each such CoT
  • (EU3 v1.3, NA & IN) Owning a non-core CoT: -15% competitiveness in foreign CoTs for each such CoT
  • Lucky AI nations: +10% compete chance
  • Trader advisor: +2% compete chance┬áper advisor level
  • Shrewd Commerce Practice national idea: +10% compete chance
  • Mercantilism/Free Trade domestic policy:
    • (IN only) Towards mercantilism: +8% compete chance in owned CoTs for every notch left of the center (%40% to 0%)
    • (IN only) Towards free trade: +5% compete chance in foreign CoTs for every notch right of the center (0% to +25%)
  • (IN only) Penalty to compete chance for each merchant placed: -0.5% compete chance for each placed merchant globally
  • Several events add or subtract to merchant compete chance

Number of Merchants

The number of merchants a nation receives per year is determined by the following factors:

  • Base: +2 merchants yearly
  • Stability: -3 to +3 merchants yearly
  • Aristocracy/Plutocracy domestic policy: +0.2 for every notch right of the center (towards plutocracy)
  • Mercantilism/Free Trade domestic policy: +0.4 for every notch right of the center (towards free trade)
  • Owning CoTs: +1 for each CoT that you own. The bonus is +0.5 for IN
  • Merchant Adventures national idea: +1 merchant yearly (EU3 & NA only).
  • Having a monopoly: +1 merchant yearly. No bonus in DW.png for more than one monopoly.
  • Being at war: -1 merchant yearly
  • Several events add or subtract yearly merchants

Trade Efficiency

Trade Efficiency (a.k.a. TE) is the measure of how effectively a government is able to "tax" merchant income. When viewing any CoT, you can see your merchants' share of the total trade. Trade efficiency determines the percentage of the total trade that a nation receives as monthly income. For example, a nation with merchants that are earning 80 ducats, will only receive 24 ducats if trade efficiency is 30%. Every percent of trade efficiency increases merchant placement chance and compete chance by 0.5%. There are several modifiers to trade efficiency:

See also

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