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Trade

Watch the Growth of Trade country-level data availability in TCdata360

Reg Onglao's picture

Note: This is the first blog of a series of blog posts on data availability within the context of TCdata360, wherein each post will focus on a different aspect of data availability.

With open data comes missing data. We know that all indicators are not created equal and some are better covered than others. Ditto for countries in which coverage can range from near universal such as the United States of America to very sparse indeed such as Saint Martin (French part).

TCdata360 is no exception. While our data spans across over 200 countries and 2000+ indicators, our data suffers from some of the same gaps as many other datasets do: uneven coverage and quality. With that basic fact in mind, we have set about exploring what our data gaps tell us — we have 'data-fied' our data gaps so to speak.

In the next few blogs we'll explore our data gaps to identify any patterns we can find within the context of the TCdata360 platform[1] — which countries and regions throw up surprises, which topics are better covered than others, which datasets and indicators grow more 'fashionable' when, and the like. In this first blog, we’ll look at data availability at the country level.

Energy prices surged in November, beverages and fertilizer prices fell–Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture

Energy commodity prices surged 8 percent in November—the fifth consecutive monthly gain—led by a 9 percent increase in oil prices, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet reported.

Agriculture prices made marginal gains as a 1 percent decline in beverages was balanced by a 1 percent increase in food prices, notably natural rubber (down 12 percent) and cotton (off 2 percent). Fertilizer prices declined 3 percent, led by a 6 percent drop in Urea.

Metals and mineral prices were unchanged. Gains in nickel and iron ore were balanced by declines in lead and aluminum. Precious metals prices rose marginally.

The pink sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.

Didn’t make it to our trade research conference? Here’s what you missed

Ana Fernandes's picture

What would bring together the China trade shock, road blocks in the West Bank, and the Belt and Road initiative? The 6th Annual IMF-World Bank-WTO Trade Research Conference, at which staff of the three institutions presented the results of twelve research projects. 
 
The Conference is over, but the website lives on, and here you can find preliminary versions of papers. To whet your appetite, here are three examples of research that use creative methodologies and raise provocative questions.

The innovation imperative: How Asia can leverage exponential technologies to improve lives and promote growth

Amira Karim's picture
Singapore: Global Innovation Forum

Robots will take over our jobs, disrupt our industries and erode our competitiveness.
 
Such were commonly expressed fears about advances in automation, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing – key representations of exponential technologies – during the inaugural Global Innovation Forum that took place in Singapore.
 
While robots continue to bear the brunt of public skepticism, participants at the Forum also expressed optimism about the emergence of innovations that could dramatically transform the quality of life for the poorest people in society, particularly in Asia, the region that was acknowledged by many participants as leading the pace of innovation around the globe.

Tracing the roots of TCdata360 datasets: an interactive network graph

Reg Onglao's picture

When doing data analysis, it's common for indicators to take the spotlight whereas datasets usually take the backseat as an attribution footnote or as a metadata popup.

However, we often forget how intertwined dataset sources are and how this affects data analysis. For instance, we can never assume that indicators from different datasets are mutually exclusive – it's possible for them to be the same indicator or to have an influence on the other as a component weight in an index, if the other dataset were used as a source for the other.

In this blog, we're interested to see if this applies to TCdata360 by taking a deeper look at its "dataset genealogy" and answer questions such as – Is it safe to do cross-dataset analysis using TCdata360 datasets? Are there interesting patterns in the relationships between TCdata360 datasets?

Quick introduction to network graphs

We call a dataset which serves as a data source for another dataset as "source", and a dataset which pulls indicator data from another as "target". Collectively, all of these are called "nodes".

To see the relationships between TCdata360 datasets, we mapped these in a directed network graph wherein each dataset is a node. By directed, we mean that source nodes are connected to their target nodes through an arrow, since direction is important to identify source from target nodes. For the purposes of this blog, we restricted the network graph to contain datasets within TCdata360 only; thus, all data sources and targets external to TCdata360 will not be included in our analysis.

Here's how the network graph looks like.

Each dataset is represented by a circle (aka "node") and is grouped and color-coded by data owner or institution. The direction from any source to target node is clearer in the interactive version, wherein there's a small arrow on the connecting line which shows the direction from target to source.

Resilient transport investments: a climate imperative for Small Island Developing Countries

Franz Drees-Gross's picture


Transport in its many forms – from tuk-tuks in Thailand to futuristic self-driving electric cars – is ubiquitous in the lives of everyone on the planet. For that reason, it is often taken for granted – unless we are caught in congestion, or more dramatically, if the water truck fails to arrive at a drought-stricken community in Africa.

It is easy to forget that transport is a crucial part of the global economy. Overall, countries invest between $1.4 to $2.1 trillion per year in transport infrastructure to meet the world’s demand for mobility and connectivity. Efficient transport systems move goods and services, connect people to economic opportunities, and enable access to essential services like healthcare and education. Transport is a fundamental enabler to achieving almost all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is crucial to meet the objectives under the Paris agreement of limiting global warming to less than 2°C by 2100, and make best efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

But all of this depends on well-functioning transport systems. With the effects of climate change, in many countries this assumption is becoming less of a given. The impact of extreme natural events on transport—itself a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—often serve as an abrupt reminder of how central it is, both for urgent response needs such as evacuating people and getting emergency services where they are needed, but also for longer term economic recovery, often impaired by destroyed infrastructure and lost livelihoods. A country that loses its transport infrastructure cannot respond effectively to climate change impacts.

From potato eaters to world leaders in agriculture

Priti Kumar's picture
 Raj Ganguly
Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands (pop: 17 millions; about the size of Haryana state in India) today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Photo credit: Raj Ganguly

Van Gogh’s famous painting of Potato Eaters depicts a family of poor peasants seated around a dinner table eating their staple fare. The artist confessed that this work is deeply reflective of the hard work that Dutch peasants have to do to earn a bare meal. Van Gogh frequently painted the harvest and often compared the season to his own art, and how he would someday reap all that he had put into it. 

Since those difficult times in the late 1800s, the tiny country of the Netherlands (pop: 17 mill; about the size of Haryana state in India) has come a long way. Matching sheer ingenuity with technological prowess, the Netherlands today is one of the world’s most agriculturally productive countries, feeding people across the globe from its meager land area. Indeed, this small nation is now the world’s second-largest exporter of agri-food products including vegetables, fruits, potatoes, meat, milk and eggs; some 6% of world trade in fruits and 16% in vegetables comes from the Netherlands.

But how exactly did they do this? In October 2017, we went to find out. Our team - of World Bank and Indian government officials working on agribusiness, rural transformation and watershed development projects – sought to learn from Dutch experience and identify opportunities for future collaboration. We met farmer cooperatives, private companies, growers’ associations, academia, social enterprises, and government agencies, and gained fascinating insights.

Primarily, we found that a convenient location, a conducive climate, investments in high-quality infrastructure, high-caliber human capital, an enabling business environment and professionally-run private companies have provided the Netherlands with that unmistakable competitive edge:

Maximizing agricultural output with minimum land and labor

Located conveniently as a gateway to Europe, the Netherlands acts as a transit hub for agricultural produce, importing Euro 4.6 billion worth of produce from 107 countries, adding value to these products through collection, re(packaging) and processing, and exporting almost double that value - Euro 7.9 billion - to more than 150 nations. In 2014, Dutch growers had a turn-over of euro 2.9 billion in fruit and vegetables, produced with a minimum of land and labor - only 55,000 hectares and just 40,000 people - indicating a heavy reliance on automation.

Interactive product export streamgraphs with data360r (now in CRAN!)

Reg Onglao's picture

Building beautiful, interactive charts is becoming easier nowadays in R, especially with open source packages such as plot.ly, ggplot2 and leaflet. But behind the scenes, there is an often untold, gruesome part of creating data visualizations -- downloading, cleaning, and processing data into the correct format.

Making data access and download easier is one of the reasons we developed data360r, recently available on CRAN and the newest addition to the TCdata360 Data Science Corner.

Data360r is a nifty R wrapper for the TCdata360 API, where R users ranging from beginners to experts can easily download trade and competitiveness data, metadata, and resources found in TCdata360 using single-line R functions.

In an earlier blog, we outlined some benefits of using data360r. In this blog, we’ll show you how to make an interactive streamgraph using the data360r and streamgraph packages in just a few lines of code! For more usecases and tips, go to https://tcdata360.worldbank.org/tools/data360r.

Where commodity prices are going, explained in nine charts

John Baffes's picture
The most recent World Bank Commodity Markets Outlook forecasts commodities prices to level off next year after big gains for industrial commodities—energy and metals—in 2017. Commodity prices appear to be stabilizing after a boom that peaked in 2011, albeit at a higher average level than pre-boom.
 
Chart 1

Energy and fertilizer prices rose in October, raw materials and precious metals fell – Pink Sheet

John Baffes's picture
Energy commodity prices increased more than 3 percent in October, a fourth consecutive monthly gain, led by a strengthening in oil, according to the World Bank’s Pink Sheet.

Agriculture prices edged lower in the month, as raw materials declined, notably natural rubber, which tumbled 12 percent. Food and beverage prices changed little. Fertilizer prices climbed over 5 percent, helped by a 12 percent jump in urea.


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