Who are Spain's neighbors? Is Canada closer to Spain than Portugal? What about Estonia or Greece? The answer? Depends on the data you are looking at!
Earlier this week I crunched data based on a selected list of indicators from the new Open Trade and Competitiveness platform from the World Bank (TCdata360) and found some interesting trends. In 2009 Spain was closer to economies like Estonia, Belgium, France and Canada while 6 years later in 2015, Spain's closest neighbors were Greece and Portugal. How and when did this shift happen?
Other trends I spotted using the same data? It seems the Sub-Saharan region ranks the lowest in Ease of Doing Business, that in 2007 Israel held the record for R&D expenditure as % of GDP, while in the same year Malta topped FDI net inflows as % GDP, and that the largest annual GDP growth in the last 20 years occurred in Equatorial Guinea in 1997.
Figure 1: Dots represent values for an economy at a given point in time for years 1996 to 2016 overlaying their box-plot distributions. Colors correspond to geographical regions.
The World Bank Group just launched a new open data platform for trade and competitiveness – TCdata360. Try it today and share your visuals on Twitter with the hashtag #TCdata360.
Open data – statistics that are accessible to all at little or no cost – is a critical component of global development and the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. How can we measure progress towards our objectives without a method of tracking how far we’ve come?
High quality and freely available data serves different stakeholders in different ways. For those of us working in global development, data helps us set baselines, identify what types of policies are effective, track progress and evaluate impact. For the private sector, open data helps companies operate more efficiently, identify areas where industries can improve, and pinpoint areas for new investment. Citizens benefit from open data by getting an understanding of what governments are doing to help them, and transparent data can help reinforce trust. The public sector utilizes data in many ways, including tracking progress against peers and pinpointing areas where countries might be excelling or lagging behind.
The World Bank Group offers a variety of open data sources for public use. The newest platform, TCdata360, focuses on trade and competitiveness and aggregates thousands of data points from dozens of vetted sources. This type of high quality data helps us get an unbiased, objective, and comprehensive view of how the world economy works and demonstrates how all the pieces of the global economy are integrated. Without it, there would be no evidence base on areas that we know to be critical for development, such as global value chains, foreign direct investment, or even starting new businesses.
TCdata360 has three distinct advantages over other data websites:
It’s comprehensive. TCdata360 offers 2,000 indicators aggregated from across more than 20 data sources. These sources include other well-known World Bank Group data sets such as Doing Business, the Logistics Performance Index, and the World Development Indicators, as well as data from other reputable sources, including the IMF, World Economic Forum, United Nations, and WTO. It’s a one-stop shop for all things trade and competitiveness, one that does not exist anywhere else
It’s constantly updated. Because TCdata360 pulls data from other sources as soon as they are updated, TCdata360 is updated. This eliminates the need for searching around for the most current figures on trade and competitiveness – TCdata360 will always be current.
It’s easy to use. You do not need to be a trade expert or economist to use TCdata360. There are no complicated queries to manage or spreadsheets to navigate. The site is visual and is based on easy-to-interpret charts, graphs and maps, which are all downloadable and shareable. It’s simple, interactive and visual. For advanced users, it offers features like an API (application programming interface).
Over the past two decades, high-tech exports from Kazakhstan have been increasing steadily. The World Bank Group has been working since 2008 with the Kazakh Government and scientist groups to further expand the country’s high-tech exports in a number of sectors. Through the Technology Commercialization Project, 65 new startups received grant funding and business training to get their innovations out of the lab and into markets. The startups operate in a wide variety of industries including agriculture, health, medicine, gas, oil and robotics. Already 40 of these businesses have reached first sales.
People who look at the Doing Business report’s Trading Across Borders indicator and the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) often wonder why one country can perform well on one of the rankings but not so well on the other although they both measure trade and logistics. In fact, earlier this year, the Doing Business team organized a workshop at the World Bank Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Kuala Lumpur to clarify the differences between the two datasets.
Let’s start off with a few definitions:
The Doing Business report is a World Bank Group flagship publication, which covers 11 areas of business regulations. Trading Across Borders is one of these areas. It looks specifically at the logistical processes of exporting and importing. Data is updated annually and the latest edition covers 190 economies. Doing Business collects data from local experts and measures performance as reported by domestic entrepreneurs, while taking into consideration factual laws and regulations.
The Logistics Performance Index is a benchmarking tool which focuses on trade logistics. It is created to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face as they relate to customs, border management, transport infrastructure, and logistics services. Updated biennially, the latest data and report cover 160 economies. Data is collected from global freight forwarders and express carriers who provide feedback on the logistical “friendliness” of the countries they operate.
Peru welcomed 3.2 million tourists in 20 14, the highest number to date. In some regions of the country, like Cusco, tourism is a potential economic lifeline for local people, who can profit from a variety of businesses serving tourists. In 2012, the World Bank Group began working with The Government of Peru to streamline the processes around opening tourism-related businesses because excessive regulations and red tape were holding up investments in new businesses for years. Ultimately, the project shaved 3 years off the business registration process and eliminated 150 unnecessary regulations. With the streamlined regulations in place, investments in hotels in Peru are on the rise. Between 2015 and 2018, Peru is expecting US$1.2 billion in investments in new hotels, an increase from US$550 million during the period 2010-2014.
In South Asia, more than one million young workers enter the labor market each month. Education levels are on the rise, cities are sprawling, exports are gaining value and as a result, many eyes are on the region to become the next ‘global factory’. But to become the world’s next middle-income region, South Asia’s firms must become more globally competitive.
On October 6, join a live event where global thought leaders, business leaders and policy makers will discuss the obstacles and opportunities affecting the South Asia region’s competitiveness.
In South Asia, high-tech exports comprise a much larger share of total manufactured exports today than they did in 1990. In fact, the percentage of high-tech exports more than doubled between 1990 and 2014, and have been trending upwards for the past 3 years. Aircraft, computers, and pharmaceuticals are all examples of high-tech exports, which rely on large outlays of research and development. As South Asia seeks to become more globally competitive, these industries can help propel the region's countries into middle-income levels.
How can industry remain competitive in the global market while meeting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? A recently released report by the World Bank Group and partners, A Greener Path to Competitiveness, explains that to meet these dual objectives, governments, industries and consumers must all take action. The lighting industry is an example of one area where these three entities have come together to mainstream an energy-efficient option, LED lights.
A new report from the World Bank Group in collaboration with CLASP and Carbon Trust, A Greener Path to Competitiveness, finds that industry has a large role to play in tackling climate change with huge untapped energy saving potential.
The report highlights the highest carbon-emitting sectors in the world’s economy: the production of iron and steel, aluminum, chemicals and cement. These industries continue to rely heavily on traditional fuel sources such as coal, natural gas and oil. There are significant opportunities to reduce these emissions, by using new technologies or retrofitting older plants to make production greener. Without urgent action, there is a danger that climate change targets set by the 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement will not be met.