Trade in Imperialism is how you earn money by selling items (mostly goods) to other nations, and the purchases you make (mostly resources) for various purposes.

Trade is ordered on the "Give Trade Orders" screen, reached from the third button on the main menu. The trading takes place after you click "Turn End" and before the newspaper appears heralding the next quarter.

Expansion of this note made by Philip Terry 12.12.2016

If you're intending to play the game by trading instead of conquering (and even if taking the conquering route you'll still find this information "handy to know and use") there are several aspects you need to be aware of when identifying a target minor nation.


When accessing the diplomacy screen,you'll notice that the goods on offer for each minor nation is invariably in a different order to all the other minor nations.This is because these are ranked first in quantity then if equal by the order of trading.Its therefore possible with a small amount of analysis of the minor countries terrain to estimate how much of any commodity is on offer.

Cotton,Wool and Timber are all visible on the map though in the case of Timber this is only Hardwood Timber (scrub timber is ignored as that is not for sale) so if you have say Coal in second place behind Timber but before Cotton in the ranking you know its got a value between that of those two commodities,usually bias towards the lower quantity.

Lets say that 4 Timber and 2 Cotton are immediately visible on the map but Coal is ranked between these two by the game that you are playing.Its therefore reasonable to assume that there are 3 Coal deposits hidden in the terrain of the minor nation you are looking at,for example.

Great PowersEdit

At the start of any game all the computer controlled Great Powers start off with trading policies unique to each of them.All minor nations are placed on friendlier terms compared to the human player (worth 11 trades) and if playing on the highest difficulty rating the Human player has an added handicap of -4 trades,making 15 trades difference in all.

Added to this each enemy Great Power has 1 consulate randomly placed for it and has a set number of consulates it picks,as follows...

Orange - Zero,Light Blue - 4,Dark Blue - 2,Red - 4 (subject to further review as I'm currently playing as red!),Purple - 4,Yellow - 4,Green - 3.

Its therefore better to pick a colour thats typically ranked as a 4 in this list.

Minor Nation Trading ProgressionEdit

As already noted,the Human player starts off with a minor nation ranked as "yellow" on zero trades.

11 trades (these can be sales or purchases) are needed to reach Beige.A further 20 trades are needed to reach Brown,another 36 to reach Grey,an additional 36 to reach Light Green and a further additional 36 trades to reach Dark Green,though the final stage before you can ask the minor nation to join you peacefully requires a final 14 trades.

153 trades in total.

Always trade in "1's" even if more is on offer of any particular commodity.Only consider "blocking out" a trading rival if you have spare merchant marine,which wont be the case especially up to around 1820 or so,even then you'll probably want to use this spare capacity to generate additional revenue instead.

Speaking of merchant marine if playing Imperialism,Traders are easy prey for blockades and Indiamen are not much better,but Clippers are a little way off at the start of the game.Compromise by building a single Indiaman early and accept the loss of these starter merchants later in the game,replacing these with Clipper ships.

Effects of war being declared by a Great Power on any Minor NationEdit

Red is the worst state of affairs and a Minor Nation issues an outright boycott against the aggressor.This cannot be undone unless the Minor Nation becomes a colony of another Great Power.

Orange occurs as an intermediary status,usually amongst Minor Nations of the same family grouping against the aggressor.In effect the aggressor is given a negative trade value (ie below zero) and is approximately worth a 40 trades reduction on a sliding scale if the aggressor has an estabilished trading history with any Minor Nation,with a maximum value of minus 10 trades if no trade consulate was originally in place.As its the computer players that are often the aggressors in a trading game this can lead to previously difficult to trade with Minor Nations opening up to you as the Human player.


This trading progression can be speeded up by issuing grants.I have found that the best grant to give is a 10 turn,$1000 per turn one.If this is done,although the results do vary slightly,I've found that each grant is worth about 2 trades.

A one off small grant is almost undetectable in its effect though I have a value of 1 trade that appears to be made reasonably consistently.A large grant actually has a similar if not exactly the same effect to a small grant so the advice is to only make one off grants of $1000.


Might sound strange but having a boycott policy in place,especially at the start of the game,focuses your trade on the targets you've identified to trade with.This can be dispensed with later in the game once your targets are sufficiently ahead of minor nations you aren't initially interested in (or maybe will conquer) though I personally tend to leave the boycotts in place until there is a change in the game dynamics giving rise to a new possibility.

Deal BookEdit

Trades at the end of the turn are recorded via a ledger known as "the deal book".Trades are offered by Minor Nations on the basis of who has the best diplomatic status with the Minor Nation concerned.This is true even if there is no trade consulate in place please note (which is why you need to use discounts,especially 25%,right at the start of the game).

If you have trading competition you may need to use discounts to acquire the most favoured tradng nation status.If this is the case the trading lead another Great Power has over your nation can be estimated by using the various discount buttons as follows :-

5% is worth approximately 6 trades,10% is worth approximately 12 trades,25% is worth approximately 24 trades and 50% is worth approximately 36 trades.Imperialism appears to vary slightly upwards from these Imperialism II values but the difference is not material enough to warrant a more detailed analysis imo.

Most favoured trading nation status might seem to be unimportant if your plan is to conquer everything in sight,however this is a mistake as even if you are going to follow this course of action you still need a ready buyer of your goods to fund your war machine (in which case pick a minor nation to trade with that is literally half a world away from your location and not in the "family group" of your intended victims).

The "Sixth Resource" of Minor Nations (Imperialism only)Edit

This is Canned Food and should not be overlooked,though it is randomly offered (less for nations with more goods,more for nations with less goods I've noticed as a general rule of thumb).

I tend to "keep tabs" on this by selling 1 can of food per turn from around 1820 or so.I'm not interested in the revenue (which is immaterial) but I am interested to see who's selling and more importantly who is buying,especially if playing a trading game.

The computer players do though purchase your offerings and this can lead to war being averted,or at least postponed.

Difference between Imperialism and Imperialism IIEdit

None,its the same engine (unless noted in italics.It is a fair general comment to say that the Imperialism II trading game is though more refined) ;)

Benefits of a peacefully acquired Colony Edit

  1. You gain control of its trading capability and also of its armed forces,along with a maximum of 4 votes at the Council of Governors meeting automatically if you are one of the top 2 Powers (which if playing a trading game is normal from 1835 onwards even at the nigh on impossible setting of the game as by that time you should have two colonies).
  2. Looking at the armed forces next,this is always 5 Heavy Artillery and 4 Regulars at the "nigh on impossible" setting of Imperialism. This is worth around $20,000 or so per colony in terms of finished goods (Clothing,Furniture,Canned Food) without accounting for the labour,time,transport network and raw materials costs involved.This acquisition please note can often lead to a General being awarded once you build a military unit via the Armoury.
  3. No need to build a transport network in the colony (which saves money).
  4. If this is your first peacefully acquired colony then you also gain a statue (lol,but it looks pretty at least!) and more importantly two Clippers (even if you have not purchased the Clipper Technology).
  5. As far as trading is concerned there are several options,some of which involve using a Colony Boycott filter if desired.You can use a Colony as a reserve "bank" of raw materials with these boycotts in place (which is what Computer players will do) which,if all of the materials are purchased by your developer will effectively cost you nothing as you'll be refunded all of your expenditure on whatever it is you wish to acquire.
  6. My personal favourite option with a colony is to let the materials be sold to your rival computer players (who are,at the nigh on impossible setting,usually loaded with cash) to fund and support primarily your military and secondly other projects,such as defensive walls,technology purchases,improving your transport network and education of your workforce (including civilians such as a second or more Miner for example).