By Karen Lynch
Let’s say your company is considering a change in international supply chain management, such as adding or shifting a manufacturing location. Pertinent indicators could include the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) intellectual property (IP) protection rating, World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) assessment of technical barriers to trade, or the energy efficiency analysis from the World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
With these and many more data points available on TCdata360, international supply chain managers can make fast, graphic comparisons between countries. Charts show, for example, that WEF data ranks India’s IP protection somewhat higher than China’s,2 but suggest that it could be easier to start a business in China (based on World Bank data).3 Potential trade-offs in import-export trade and other global expansion decisions could also become apparent, for example, in the OECD’s Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (where China tops India)4 or WEF’s general business environment ranking (where India eases out China).5
“For the private sector, open data helps companies operate more efficiently, identify areas where industries can improve and pinpoint areas for new investment,” Klaus Tilmes, Director of the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank, said in a blog post, adding that the high-quality data helps provide an “unbiased, objective and comprehensive view of how the world economy works.”6
Tips for using the site have been provided in an interview with platform designer Prasanna Lal Das.7 “The whole idea of TCdata360 is to make it accessible to non-data specialists through easy-to-use interfaces, while also providing more sophisticated options for veteran data-crunchers,” he said. The Twitter feed #TCdata360 also provides examples of the tool in practice.8
TCdata360 enables data to be viewed by country, topic or indicator, providing recent and historical data. An import-export trade business, for example, could search on “trade barriers” as a topic, finding nearly 75 indicators of possible relevance (including tariffs, quotas, taxes, and technical barriers). Among other features, a “datascoper” tool can compare countries based on multiple indicators at the same time. Related information is also provided on the World Bank’s website, including blogs, publications, and other toolkits. For instance, international supply chain managers would find the 2016 Connecting to Compete report, which analyzes infrastructure, procedures, regulations, geographic characteristics and political/economic factors that are used to determine various countries’ global logistics standings.9
In addition to using the site, companies can incorporate data directly into their own systems, using an application programming interface (API) that also automatically updates information as it is posted on TCdata360.
Many country-specific information resources can be found elsewhere on the web. In the U.S., export.gov provides country commercial guides, elaborating on such factors as the top reasons U.S. companies should consider any particular country, strategies for the market, challenges to market entry and top sectors for U.S. exports and investment per country.10 An import-export trader in Australia might consult bilateral trade and economic fact sheets from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, among other government resources.11,12 Similarly, British exporters might find tailored information from the U.K. Department for International Trade.13 Some countries also provide information designed to encourage inward investment and business, on sites such as the Canadian government’s “Invest in Canada.”14
Today’s business decisions are increasingly data-driven. A new World Bank data platform called TCdata360 aggregates, visualizes and regularly updates rich data sets from multiple international institutions, providing business decision-makers with a useful tool for comparing the potential of different countries for import-export trade, international supply chain management and global business expansion.
Karen Lynch is a journalist who has covered global business, technology and policy in New York, Paris and Washington, DC, for more than 30 years. Karen also is a principal at Content Marketing Partners.
1. “World Bank Group Launches Free, Interactive, and Easy-to-Use Trade & Competitiveness Data Platform”, World Bank; http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/01/09/world-bank-group-launches-free-interactive-and-easy-to-use-trade-competitiveness-data-platform
2. “Intellectual Property Protection”, World Bank; http://tcdata360.worldbank.org/indicators/inv.ip.prot?country=IND&indicator=557&countries=CHN&viz=line_chart&years=2007,2016
3. “Starting a Business”, World Bank; http://tcdata360.worldbank.org/indicators/start.biz?country=IND&indicator=456&countries=CHN&viz=choropleth&years=2017
4. "Services Trade Restrictiveness Index", World Bank; http://tcdata360.worldbank.org/indicators/trade.stri.stri?country=IND&indicator=3129&product=0&countries=CHN&viz=line_chart&years=2014,2015
5. “WEF Business Environment”, World Bank; ; http://tcdata360.worldbank.org/indicators/tour.bus?country=IND&indicator=3534&countries=CHN&viz=choropleth&years=2015
6. “TCdata360: Filling Gaps in Open Trade and Competitiveness Data”, World Bank; ; http://blogs.worldbank.org/trade/tcdata360-filling-gaps-open-trade-and-competitiveness-data
7. "Tips and Tricks for Using World Bank’s New Data Tool", devex; https://www.devex.com/news/tips-and-tricks-for-using-world-bank-s-new-data-tool-89577
8. Twitter search, #TCdata360; https://twitter.com/search?q=%23TCdata360&src=typd
9. "Connecting to Compete 2016: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy", World Bank; http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/06/28/connecting-to-compete-2016-trade-logistics-in-the-global-economy
10. “Country Commercial Guides”, export.gov; https://www.export.gov/ccg
11. “Trade and Economic Fact Sheets for Countries and Regions”, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; http://dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/Pages/trade-and-economic-fact-sheets-for-countries-and-regions.aspx
12. "Import and export", Australian Government; http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/business-and-industry/trade-import-and-export/import-and-export
13. “Exporting Country Guides”, U.K. Department for International Trade; https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/exporting-country-guides
14. "Invest in Canada", Global Affairs Canada; http://www.international.gc.ca/economist-economiste/invest/invest-Canada.aspx?lang=eng