Friday, March 14, 2014

International Trade Centre Scores Big With Big Data Maps

I am not easily impressed but multinational institutions continue to impress me with Big Data tools.  I noticed that the UN/WTO International Trade Centre maintains several search maps of data on trade and investment.  I don't believe I've ever seen them before.  They look too useful to ignore.

The ITC Trade Map covers the import/export side of business equations.  If I were analyzing a country whose economy I believe is export-driven (i.e., Australia's natural resource exports), I would examine its trade flows with major customers (i.e., China) to see periodic changes.  This would help me assess directional changes in the exporting country's GDP and currency.

The ITC Investment Map has FDI data that may prove useful to me as I try to understand why foreign investors target some sectors and regions within the US.

The ITC Market Access Map shows further data on tariffs and quotas.  I am not an expert on tariff systems but knowing where to find them will help me understand barriers to entry in the sectors I routinely follow.

The ITC Trade Competitiveness Map is an indexed comparison of how different countries compare in the competitiveness of their products.

The ITC Standards Map looks like it's the most boring of the available maps.  Maybe lobbyists and labor unions like to wade through reams of conduct rules.  I don't have much patience for that in my analysis but I would like to give it at least a cursory look.

The bad news is that access to these databases is password restricted.  Users from developed countries can only obtain limited access for free.  I'm based in the US and I'm sure as all get-out not paying a penny for something that should be free.  The US is the UN system's largest source of funding and we should insist that this data be free to the entire world as a global public good.  I haven't tried to register for an account yet.  Let's see how efficient this UN entity proves to be in processing my requests for access.  I can't wait to test drive as much data as they'll let me have.