Panjiva: Adding Chinese Trade Data to the Global Sourcing Mix (Part 1)

Earlier this week, Panjiva announced the addition of Chinese trade data into its database of global supplier information. Panjiva, like competitors ImportGenius and Zepol, is an aggregator of customs and related trade data. The NYC-based upstart (approaching 50 employees) began with US customs data in its searchable database. It later added certification, contact, and blacklist information and other supplier data based on crawling supplier websites. Panjiva won a Spend Matters PRO mention earlier this year as one of the specialist vendors we think all organizations would benefit from talking to. See: Five Specialist Vendors You Must Talk to in 2013: Panjiva (Spend Matters PRO subscription required). 

Our experience with Panjiva over several years is that the tool provides a better wealth of information about suppliers in one place than other similar sources. But if you’re crunching US import trade data specifically, some on our team have preferred Zepol for quantitative analysis. To each their trade data own, we suppose! At least we have competing sources of information. But with Chinese data, Panjiva is attempting to add an entirely new level to its offering with a broader view of trade information.

US import data only tells part of the trade story for companies researching global suppliers. They might go through this research for a variety of reasons: to identify new sources of local or export supply, to understand supply risk elements based on changes in export/shipping data, to understand what suppliers competitors are using, etc. Yet domestic data only provides information from global suppliers importing into the US.

US customs data does not provide, for example, insight on other countries that Chinese suppliers ship to. Moreover, searchable US customs data is largely limited to goods shipped into the country via ocean freight. Chinese trade data, in contrast, provides information on all forms of transportation including goods exported via airfreight and truck. Panjiva has been able to obtain this information through its partnership with Export to China (ETCN).

Among other fields, Pajiva Chinese data includes: 

  • Company name and address
  • Information on shipments based on 6-digit Harmonized System (HS) code (Panjiva has attempted to map HS codes to general keyword searches – not an easy feat!)
  • Total monthly value (in USD) for each product shipped
  • Countries shipped to and from
  • Supplier type (state-owned, private, foreign-invested, etc.)
  • Mode of transport (i.e. vessel or air)
  • Trending data


Unlike US customs data, Chinese trade data does not provide information on the export customer – it only provides information based on the shipper and shipment. Yet it does provide a window into Chinese suppliers that might have limited or no exports to the US but a material export footprint to other regions like Europe, Japan, the Middle East, etc.

Coming from a Chinese source, global companies would do well to question the validity and accuracy of China-provided information. But Panjiva vouches for the quality of ETCN information, given it is an “official” provider of Chinese trade information. Its LinkedIn profile notes that ETCN’s sponsors include state owned/affiliated organizations including the China Customs Brokers Association ("CCBA”), a “5A-class state-level industrial association directly under the leadership of the General Administration of Customs” and the Beijing International Technology Cooperation Center ("BITCC”), a “state-owned enterprise directly under the Beijing Municipal Government.” In other words, you’re getting the trade information on Chinese suppliers straight from the Politburo’s mouth (or at least the trade data they want users to see).

ETCN and Panjiva Chinese trade data includes information on only certain classes of exports: textiles and apparel, shoes, headgear, hardware and tools, furniture, home appliances, sporting goods, plastic goods, glassware and paper and packaging. Import data provided includes cotton, textile and machinery parts and metalworking and machine tools. ETCN and Panijva provide both export and import information are provided on auto and auto parts, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

We are in the process of playing in the global trade sandbox with the toolset and will report back on our experience and some additional details on the offering next week. But in the meantime, here’s a result of quick search we did on a supplier this morning (note, we’ve selected only the top screen overview information and limited Chinese export information to share):

(click image to enlarge)



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