Published on The Trade Post

New Online Tool for Calculating Trade Indicators

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Library at Mohammed V University at Agdal, Rabat. Source - The World Bank.Access to reliable, accurate, and up-to-date data is crucial to the analysis work we do here at the World Bank. Making sure we have that data and making it as accessible as possible to others is equally as crucial. That's why we have developed a feature on the World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) platform that aggregates and analyzes trade outcomes.

For those who don’t yet use it, WITS is an online database aggregator where you can access major international merchandise trade, tariffs, and non-tariff data compilations with a click of the mouse. It’s free software that anyone—World Bank Group staff, policymakers, practitioners, researchers, academics—can use when working on trade and competitiveness issues around the world.

Our team here in the International Trade Unit, in collaboration with the Development Economics Data Group, developed a multi-functional “tool” to aggregate several indicators used to assess the trade competitiveness of a country. We call it the Trade Outcomes Indicators Tool.

Why would you want to use the Trade Outcomes Indicators tool?

For one, this is more than just data. The tool allows users to automatically compute trade indicators and displays them in easy-to-use, easy-to-manipulate Tableau visualizations, or graphs. All of this is also easily exported in a number of formats.

Bottom line: This drastically reduces the time it takes to collect, download and analyze trade data.

Which indicators are available?

These indicators cover four different dimensions of trade performance. The first set covers the composition, orientation, and growth of exports and imports. The second looks at the degree of export diversification across products and markets. Third, we have indicators that show the level of sophistication of a country’s main exports. And finally, the fourth dimension analyzes the survival rate of a country’s export relationships.

Reviewing the country level performance of exports along these four dimensions gives a fairly comprehensive picture of trade competitiveness. This four-dimensional framework allows you to evaluate the dynamics of the country’s exports at the different margins of trade and to benchmark specific countries in comparison to their peers. This is very much aligned with the analytical framework our unit uses in its Trade Competitiveness Diagnostic toolkit.

As an alternative to traditional indicator-by-indicator analysis, this feature provides a built-in array of options. These include the ability to select specific countries of interest, product classifications, reported or mirrored data, and specific years of analysis. All of this can be broken down into subsets of indicators, for instance creating ad-hoc country and product groups, or easily investigating and comparing specific trade partners.

Want to see an example?

OK, here’s how it works. Figure 1 shows an example of an indicator that can be generated with the tool. It shows the number of products (6-digit HS codes) and destination that each country reports exporting to in 2012, with an annual value of at least $10,000.

The dotted lines represent the median number of markets (X-axis) and products (Y-axis) across all countries in the sample.

This indicator provides an overview of any country’s market and product reach. While not a comprehensive explanation on its own, it is a quick snapshot that can help benchmark the degree of diversification of a country’s export basket.

Take China, for example. You can see China in the top right-hand quadrant of the graph. Scroll over the green dot and you will see that China exports 4,531 products to 115 destinations. But which country is on the other extreme, with the least diverse export basket?

If you scroll over the green dot all the way in the bottom left of the graph, you'll find it. That's right, Palau-- which exports just 7 products to 3 destinations.

In the toolbar on the right, you can browse countries and select those relevant to you. Go ahead, find your country and try it out below.


Indicator Visualization: Number of Exported Products & Destinations


OK, so how can you access the tool?

First of all, you need to sign-up for access to WITS. Don’t worry! Registration is free and can easily be done in just a few minutes. Once you log in to the system, you can find the "Trade Outcomes Indicator" tool under the "Advanced Query" tab in the top of the menu bar.

This tool is a work in progress, and we plan to keep updating the features. In order to make it as useful as possible, we are counting on feedback from users like you. Give it a try, and let us know what you think.

Send questions and suggestions to


Jose Daniel Reyes

Senior Economist at the Macroeconomics, Trade, and Investment Global Practice of The World Bank Group

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