In Europa Universalis II, trade is one of the more important parts of managing your economy. There are three different kinds of income associated with trade. In-game, two of them are grouped under your monthly tax income, and the other under your monthly trade income.

Tolls are the sum of trade taxes from all provinces and depends on province population and your trade efficiency. They are lumped with other taxes.

Trade tariffs are collected from the merchants present in your centers of trade and they are one of the reasons why a center of trade boosts your economy. They also appear as taxes. They amount to 3 times the number of merchants in the center of trade in Ducats per year, so if the center of trade is full you will get 60D per year, or 5D per month. Early on this is a huge income. Go get yourself a center of trade if you don’ t have one, and if you do, go for another. Owning a center of trade has the additional benefit of giving you a bonus extra merchant per year.

Trade revenue depends on the number of merchants you have in center of trades. The annual figure is as follows: number of merchants * percentage of CoT value * trade efficiency

Unless you build a very large empire, it is quite likely that this will become your biggest source of income. Because of the importance of trade efficiency here, some players suggest that, in the early game, you shouldn't bother sending merchants to center of trades that you don't own. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule (mostly countries like Venice, who start with a higher trade efficiency). These players generally wait until they have added a couple of levels of trade (around 1500). Even if you only break even, trade is worth it, since its income goes directly to research through the monthly income.

An added benefit of trade is that every 100 units of grain traded improves army support by 2K men. There is a similar benefit on naval support for the trade of naval supplies.

Trading Strategy Edit

Centers of trade that are nearer to you cost less. Ones that have lower competition (generally more peripheral ones) will see your merchants last longer. Veneto and Liguria have particularly high competition. Once you have discovered them, centers well away from Europe are often quite good prospects.

Because stability affects how "sticky" your merchants are, it is often wise to wait until you have a high stability before sending merchants. Your monarch's administrative skill also affects their stickiness.

Auto-Sending Edit

This is one of the worst ways to send out merchants. If you tick the auto-send button, the AI, on your behalf, will send out any available merchants. The order is usually your home center of trade, then any centers of trade that you own, and then - rarely - to other centers. The AI does not care if an empty slot is available, and ends up sending your merchants one by one. This is terribly inefficient as your merchant rarely succeeds; instead, the merchant either fails or competes another merchant out.

On the plus side:

  • Trading requires no human attention.


  • A trader gets terrible returns from this method.
  • It wastes merchants and money.

This is also the way that AI normally trades which can explain why it does so poorly against a human trader.

If you are tempted to auto-send your merchants, don't. Switch to using an actual strategy.

Batch Strategy Edit

This strategy sends merchants in batches of two or three. The idea behind this strategy is that you expect one merchant to fail, the second to compete out somebody else's merchant, and the third one will take the slot that has just opened up. If you have a very high trade efficiency, two merchants can work in a less-competitive center of trade. Pluses:

  • It's fast -- important in multiplayer games
  • You don't need to figure out if there's an empty slot
  • You don't need to use the ledger at all
  • It keeps merchants moving even when no empty slots are present anywhere
  • It rarely fails to get a slot


  • It's costly in money -- you're paying for many more merchants than is necessary
  • Competing out merchants lowers relations with the ousted merchants' country.

Empty Slot Technique Edit

In this strategy, you check page 14 of the Ledger to see which centers have empty slots. If your percentage plus the AI's percentage adds up to less than 100% then there is an empty slot available and you have a better chance of placing a merchant. Send your merchants to the empty slots (one merchant per slot), usually at a point in the year when the AI is less active. This is the most efficient method, because your merchant isn't usually competing for a slot, and thus has a higher chance of succeeding.

Empty slot(s) become available when:

  • The game starts
  • A country is annexed
  • A merchant competes another one out
  • A new center of trade forms
  • An AI country gets to trade technology level 3 and attempts to monopolize its home center of trade

For best effects, don't send merchants to single empty slots in January and February. Every January 1st all countries collect their census taxes, and the AI will send out merchants while it has cash. It takes 1 month for merchants to arrive and compete. Thus, the first month or two of each year there will be a lot more AI merchants hitting each center of trade; you want them competing with each other then, not you. Checking empty slot availability and sending on March 3rd and later greatly increases your chances!


  • This is the most efficient method (60-80% success), and therefore the cheapest
  • It usually avoids bumping foreign merchants, therefore causes few relations hits
  • It gives you something to do in multiplayer during peace


  • Endless, tedious busywork checking the ledger. (What were the designers thinking?) Takes the most time of the three methods.

5 Merchants or Monopoly? Edit

Trade technology 3 gives any country the ability to grab a monopoly in a center of trade, by successfully sending a 6th merchant. This gives several advantages.

  • Gives the monopolist the trade income from all the empty slots
  • Gives +1 merchants per year
  • Adds +2% trade efficiency (introduced in 1.09)

The trade efficiency bonus, in particular, can be very lucrative. World trade by 1600 should be around 10000 ducats. By that time, a player can usually get 5 merchants in most centers, plus monopolies in many, averaging perhaps 30% of world trade. So that is 3000 ducats per year, times trade efficiency. Thus 2% higher TE is worth 60d/year, or 5d/month. So holding a monopoly even for a month can sometimes be worthwhile.

Even though a monopoly gives such nice advantages, the cost of maintaining a monopoly increases if many countries are trading in the center of trade. New merchants do not automatically target the monopoly any more (as of 1.09). However, if they do (and with more merchants, you'll be targeted more often than your competitors), it is easier to bump the 6th merchant than other merchants. Also note that trading income is just monthly income, whereas you pay money from treasury to send merchants. So, even though a monopoly may pay for itself in terms of income, it may be unsustainable in terms of money.

Thus, you should weigh the cost of maintaining a monopoly versus the income it creates. In general, a monopoly is more sustainable in a less popular center of trade (and, also, worth more - as those centers are less likely to be full).

Monopolies. Edit

For more detailed information, see Monopoly (Europa Universalis II)

These are only available at trade level three, and are difficult to maintain, because the sixth merchant is especially vulnerable to being competed out. They give you the income from all vacant slots, and an extra merchant per year - so are worth it if you can maintain them. If you have a monopoly, you can get extra income by sending spare merchants to compete out other nations' traders (though if you own the center of trade, you then lose out on tarrif income).

There are some downsides of having a monopoly. Firstly, it makes you more likely to get banned from trading there by the centre's owner. As this gives you a casus belli, against them, this might be to your advantage. Secondly, a center with very few merchants is more likely to close, and re-open elsewhere - forcing you to re-send all the merchants you had there.

Trade embargoes Edit

For more information, see Trade embargo (Europa Universalis II)

On reaching trade level 4, you can ban another nation from your centers of trade, giving them a casus belli (Europa Universalis II)|casus belli]] on you. You cannot ban a country that you have a trade agreement with. AI nations that feel threatened by you tend to do this. If you win a war, your enemies' trade embargos against you are lifted and the truce prevents them from banning you for 5 years.

You should think carefully before enacting a trade embargo. Unless you have captured all of the centers of trade an AI knows about, the embargo won't hurt them very much. And if you do it when not at war with them, you take a stability hit. If you go for a free trader approach, then embargoes reduce your trade efficiency and trade research.

One strategy to gain a casus belli against an AI is to cancel any trade agreement, flood their centers of trade with merchants, and wait for the embargo.

Trade agreements Edit

For more information see trade agreement

Trade agreements with countries that do not own a center of trade are not very useful. The other country not targeting your merchants does not make up for the 1% loss of trade efficiency. With countries that do own a center of trade, they prevent you from being embargoed. Spain is a particularly good AI to sign an agreement with, as they usually end up controlling several rich centers of trade, and are more likely to ban you than many other CoT owners.

Center of Trade changes Edit

Throughout the game, centers of trade will open and close, and provinces will change which center they feed. To maximise your chances of getting and keeping a center, you want to get a high trade efficiency, as this is more important than city size. You also want to ensure that you do not drive out the competition, as this makes it more likely that the center will move.

The mercantilism slider affects which centers your provinces will tend to use. If you have high mercantilism, your provinces will tend to favour your centers of trade. If you tend towards free trade, they will tend to favour closer centers belonging to other countries.

Some of the content from this article has been taken from Fodoron's Introductionary Guide to EU2. This text can be edited as a standard GNU FDL documentation, but don't delete his signature and this list: People who made serious contribution to Fodoron's guide are: Lawkeeper, Wooster, Blackthorne, Daniel A, robin74, Touga, sliver legion, broadsword, DSYoungEsq, ws2_32 and Fodoron himself.