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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
ECLAC launches Internet application to follow trade statistics in real time
08 April 2010 / 02:30

[Dateline: Santiago | Author: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbea]

Thanks to a new Internet application created by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in just seconds a user anywhere in the world can retrieve statistics on a country’s foreign trade or other international trade statistics directly from the UN Comtrade database in New York, and create graphs in real time.

Do you want to know what proportion of a country’s exports are high-technology products and trace this in time? A quick query in the Interactive Graphic System of International Economics Trends (SIGCI Plus) can reveal that in Costa Rica, for instance, this percentage rose from 2.9% in 1995 to almost 28% in 2008.

Are you interested in finding out how many and which climate-friendly products a country exports and what percentage of total exports these products represent? Using SIGCI Plus, you will find it out.

The Interactive Graphic System of International Economics Trends (SIGCI Plus) Trade Module developed by ECLAC’s International Trade and Integration Division is a user-friendly interface that feeds official available data from Member States stored in UN Comtrade, of the UN Statistics Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), to the application designed in Santiago, Chile. Queries are sent directly to the COMTRADE database and data is acquired on the fly, making use of the newest standards of data transmission (xml, SDMX).

The application retrieves UN Comtrade statistics adapted to data transmission standards created by the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Statistical Office of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the Bank for International Settlements. These common data dissemination standards, the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX), seek to facilitate the exchange of statistics by ensuring that data of these and other organizations adhere to the same standards.

“The tool is there. The next step for all of these organizations, ECLAC included, is to adapt their own databases to the SDMX standard so they can share their data with others. This is the future,” said an ECLAC consultant.

Users may also cross data in about 2.7 million combinations, rank it, trace historical trends, display it in graphs and tables and save the data on excel spreadsheets and the graphs in jpg format. SIGCI Plus has nine database series, but more are on the way.

The application also includes the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) for commodities and trade partners, which measures the concentration/diversification of a country’s exports and who they trade with, the Grubel & Lloyd Index of intra-industrial trade, and the Balassa Index of a country's competitive advantage per product.

“This application is unique in the United Nations system. No other application can retrieve data in real time, and process the indicators,” said chief of the Division’s International Trade Unit.