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Trade data for assessing the impact of COVID-19

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The global economics Impact of COVID-19
Image: Earl Manus/

With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, governments, policy makers, national and international organizations and researchers have focused all their attention on dealing with this crisis. To take timely and appropriate decisions with the right policies, access to quality data and relevant analysis is vital.  The impact of the crisis is spread across several industries/sectors, including healthcare, finance, jobs, trade, and national accounts.

One of the sectors crucial for all countries during this crisis is trade. World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) is a global public database that brings together several sources of data on trade and trade barriers providing commodity-level time series data for each country.

How is WITS useful for policy makers during the pandemic?

WITS provides trade information for over 5700 products. To simplify access to existing trade data for medical goods relevant during this crisis, we have built two new modules to explore this information.

Explore commodity level data - As many countries face or expect to face shortages in medical products needed for patients of COVID-19, they need information on countries which can export these commodities.  Such information can also be used to evaluate against any countries from whom they already import these commodities/products. User can explore data such as hand sanitizer exporting countrieshazardous waste disposal bags importing countries and sophisticated equipment like ventilators; CPAP; BiPaP; Oxygen concentrators exporting countries. To peruse other data users can visit Trade Statistics Medical Product related to COVID-19 page in WITS.


Examine trade barriers - Countries may also look for the rate of tariff imposed on these goods by different exporting countries. Users can easily query and obtain this information with the dedicated tariff data by country page. This provides information on bilateral country-levels tariffs by commodity including Most Favored Nation (MFN) and Applied Tariff.

For compiling COVID-19-related trade data, we used Harmonized System (HS) codes from the COVID-19 medical supplies list 2nd edition, prepared by World Customs Organization (WCO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

While the COVID-19 specific pages help with a quick overview, users can also perform more detailed trade data analyses like:

  • Deriving metrics at a higher aggregation like “Disinfectants and sterilization products”, “Oxygen Therapy equipment and pulse oximeters”
  • Deriving metrics for regions like South Asia or Trade Blocs like COMESA, NAFTA
  • Performing analysis on individual or higher aggregation of agricultural or food products
  • Analyzing time trends for one or more countries and products
  • Simulating impact of tariff cuts on one more product
  • Obtaining data on non-tariff measures (NTM)

You can register and login to WITS to use these tools for free, and access billions of rows of trade and protection data from UN COMTRADE, UNCTAD TRAINS and WTO IDB and CTS Database and try various ready-to-use modules to derive, aggregate and simulate data without the need to code it yourself!

WITS is developed by the World Bank in partnership with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and in consultation with United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Trade Center (ITC).

WITS is managed by the Development Economics Data Group (DECDG) of the World Bank. In an effort to make relevant data available as a global public good, DECDG has a dedicated page for understanding the COVID-19 pandemic through data


Umar Serajuddin

Manager, Development Data Group, The World Bank

Divyanshi Wadhwa

Data Scientist, Development Data Group, World Bank

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