Europa Universalis 4 Trade Guide: Nodes, Companies, & More

Master the art of trade and become a global power in EU4.

Trade routes near Genoa in Europa Universalis 4

For both experienced players and beginners, the trade system in EU4 can be very overwhelming. Under the trade map view, you will see many different trade nodes with trade winds flowing in all directions. Understanding how trade works will be essential to making real money for many nations.

In this EU4 trade guide, we will outline the different trade mechanics in EU4 and provide an overview of how to maximize your trade potential.

Trade Nodes

Trade Node menu in Europa Universalis 4
Trade node menu

Most of the trade nodes in EU4 are centers where trade can flow in and out of. The node that is in the home trade region of your capital is considered your home trade node and is where you will automatically collect trade from. This will be where you want to build up the largest amount of trade power.

Map of all the trades nodes in Europa Universalis 4
Source: EUIV Wiki

There are also 3 unique trade nodes in the game called end nodes. These are centers of trade where trade will only flow in and not out of. They include the English Channel, Genoa, and Venice. Having a capital in these trade regions and wielding the most power can yield some of the largest rewards.

How do you increase trade power in a node in EU4?

In order to increase your trade power in a node in EU4, you need to control provinces in the node’s region. Each province has a base trade power that can be increased by building structures like marketplaces, trade depots, or stock exchanges.

Additionally, some provinces may have natural trade modifiers like a natural harbor or river estuary, which further increase trade power. You can also increase your trade power by sending light ships to protect trade in the node or by building up your army and navy to control the trade node.

Finally, having a merchant present in the node and steering trade in the direction of your home trade node can also help increase your trade power. Overall, controlling provinces, building structures, protecting trade, and steering trade are all key strategies for increasing your trade power in a node in EU4.

Steer Trade

Trade steering is how it sounds, move the trade power from a node in the direction of your choosing. At most trade nodes, there are typically multiple directions in which trade power can be steered. You will want to take note of which node each direction flows to and ensure it will eventually reach your home trade node. In order to steer trade you must have a merchant present at the node and set it to transfer trade power. Once this is done you will be able to check the direction you want the trade to flow.

Having increased power in the trade node and having modifiers to trade steering will all increase the amount of trade you are able to steer in a particular direction. Oftentimes, especially overseas, nodes will not flow directly into your home trade node so it will be important to build trade power in nodes along the way that eventually lead to your home node.

When it comes to steering trade, it’s important to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks of directing trade power in a particular direction. On one hand, steering trade towards your home node can increase the amount of wealth you collect and solidify your position as a dominant trade power. On the other hand, redirecting trade away from a node could potentially weaken your control in that region and make it easier for rival powers to seize control.

Steering Trade in Europa Universalis 4
It’s important to weigh your options when directing trade power in a particular direction

In order to maximize the benefits of trade steering, it’s important to carefully choose which nodes to prioritize and where to direct trade power. This involves analyzing the potential gains and losses of each option and weighing them against each other. Additionally, it may be necessary to build up trade power in intermediate nodes in order to ensure that trade flows smoothly toward your home node. This can be achieved through a combination of building up infrastructure, improving trade modifiers, and utilizing ships to protect trade routes.

Ultimately, the ability to effectively steer trade is a key factor in determining a nation’s success in EU4. By carefully managing trade power and strategically directing it towards your home node, you can build a powerful and wealthy nation that dominates the global trade scene.

Building Trade Power

After you have a good understanding of how to steer trade and what nodes to prioritize, you will want to build trade power in the desired regions.

Trade node menu with trade power in Europa Universalis 4
Source: EUIV Wiki

How do you increase trade power in EU4?

There are various ways to increase your trade power in a particular trade node. One way is by controlling provinces within the trade node’s region and building marketplaces, trade depots, and stock exchanges to increase the base trade power of those provinces. Certain provinces may also have natural trade modifiers, such as natural harbors and river estuaries, which increase trade power.

These will be important provinces to target in a region you wish to build trade power. Another important way to build trade power is by protecting trade in certain regions. This can be done by building Barques and sending them on a mission to protect trade.

Finally, having a dominant share of the trade power in a node, having trade steering modifiers, and having a merchant present in the node to transfer trade power can all contribute to increasing trade power in a particular node.

Domestic Trade Power

When it comes to increasing trade power domestically, one effective method is to build up your nation’s economy by developing its provinces. This can be done by investing monarch points into a province to increase its development, which will in turn increase its base trade power.

Additionally, constructing buildings such as marketplaces, trade depots, and stock exchanges will also increase a province’s trade power. It’s important to note that some provinces have natural trade modifiers such as natural harbors or river estuaries, which will provide a bonus to their base trade power.

Prioritizing these provinces for development and building can greatly increase your nation’s trade power in its home trade node.

Trade Power Abroad

To increase trade power abroad, you will need to establish a presence in foreign trade nodes. This can be done by conquering provinces in the region and building trade buildings, as well as by sending merchants to collect trade or transfer trade power to your home node.

Another important aspect to consider is protecting your trade routes with a strong navy, as enemy privateers can greatly reduce your trade power in foreign nodes. Forming trade agreements and alliances with other nations can also provide a boost to your trade power abroad. Overall, a combination of conquest, trade agreements, and naval power can greatly increase your nation’s trade power in foreign trade nodes.

Trade Companies

Another way to increase trade power in distant regions is through trade companies. Note that you will need either the Wealth of Nations DLC or Dharma DLC in order to form trade companies.

You can watch the trailer for the Wealth of Nations DLC here:

Trade companies are special types of companies that can be established by European nations in Asia, Africa, and Oceania. They allow European nations to establish a strong presence in these regions and gain significant economic benefits from their trade. Trade companies do not provide tax income or manpower from their provinces, but they do provide a boost to trade power, and trade value in their regions.

How do you form a trade company in EU4?

Forming a trade company in EU4 requires you to have either the Wealth of Nations DLC or Dharma DLC enabled.

Once the DLC is enabled, you must have a province that is part of a trade company region, which can be found in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The province must also have at least 51% of its trade power controlled by the player.

Once these conditions are met, you can go to the province interface and click the “Form Trade Company” button. This will create a new trade company with the province as its center. You can then add other eligible provinces to the trade company to increase its power and receive various bonuses, such as reduced local unrest, increased goods produced, and a boost to trade power.

All possible trade companies in Europa Universalis 4
Source: EUIV Wiki, a map of all possible trade company regions

Once a trade company is created, the nation can invest in its provinces to increase its trade power and value. Investing in trade company provinces can be done through buildings such as the marketplace, trade depot, and stock exchange. Additionally, the nation can assign a merchant to the trade company, which will further increase its trade power and value.

How do you make investments in trade companies in EU4?

In order to invest, you must have a certain level of trade power in the trade company’s region and have at least one merchant present. Once these conditions are met, you can invest a certain amount of ducats to increase your share of the trade company. The more you invest, the larger your share of the company becomes and the greater your influence over the trade in that region.

It is important to note that investing too much can lead to diminishing returns, so it is important to balance your investments with other sources of income. Additionally, investing in trade companies can also provide other benefits such as a reduction in the cost of overseas expansion and a boost to your naval force limit.

One important thing to note about trade companies is that they have unique mechanics when it comes to autonomy. Unlike regular provinces, trade company provinces have a fixed autonomy of 0%, meaning they are always fully controlled by the nation. However, this also means that trade company provinces cannot be converted to the nation’s culture or religion, and they do not provide any bonuses to the nation’s religion.

Trade companies can be a powerful tool for increasing trade power and value in distant regions, and should be considered for any nation looking to dominate the global trade network.


Understanding the mechanics of trade in EU4 is crucial for any player wishing to establish a powerful and wealthy empire. By mastering the art of trade steering and building up trade power in the right regions, you can quickly become a dominant player in the global market. And with the addition of trade companies, you can further expand your reach and influence to far-off lands.

With the knowledge learned from our EU4 trade guide, you can lead your nation to prosperity and achieve greatness on the world stage. So, start exploring the trade nodes and building your trade empire today!

Avatar of Tyler Vareski
Tyler has over 11 years of experience playing strategy games. He has a particular fondness for Europa Universalis IV, of which he has logged over 900 hours. Despite the challenges that come with playing a complex game like EU4, Tyler finds it incredibly rewarding and loves sharing his knowledge and strategies with fellow gamers. Outside of EU4, Tyler is a massive Star Wars junkie. He also likes 2K too much and doesn't eat enough vegetables.