SAS and United Nations bring world’s trade data to citizens

SAS® Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade offers unprecedented insights into more than 300 million rows of data

As global trade affects economies large and small, along with organizations in government, academia and industry, everyone benefits from understanding the numbers behind international commerce. SAS and the United Nations have collaborated to give the world insights into the most comprehensive collection of trade data in existence, using advanced SAS® data visualization software.  SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade offers unprecedented access to 27 years of UN Comtrade data – more than 300 million rows – collected by the UN Statistics Division.

“We are very excited to help bring big data analytics to the public” said Ronald Jansen, Chief of the UN Trade Statistics Branch. “Anyone can view all of the data at once, in a high-performance environment, to gain greater insights and ask better questions. It makes our analysis much more efficient.” 

Uncovering disparities and relationships

Visualizing more than 300 million rows of data, instead of subsets, quickly yields unexpected insights. For instance, an animated Trade History bubble chart shows that China transformed from being a major import partner to the largest export partner for Australia over the past 10 years. The Trade Composition visualization reveals that a disruption in Brazil’s iron and steel production could severely affect Argentina. It also shows that the US-Malawi trade relationship revolves almost entirely around US demand for tobacco. 

Employing cloud technologies and high performance analytics, SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade uncovers stories hidden across hundreds of trading partners and thousands of commodities to reveal how nations have interacted economically through the last three decades. Traditionally, only large organizations could glean knowledge by analyzing big data in real time. Now everyone, via the web, can unlock valuable information that benefits policy makers, businesses, researchers and the general public. 

“SAS is helping advance the next wave of the UN’s ‘data revolution.’ We’re not just making the data public, we’re making the insights public – for the good of society,” said I-Sah Hsieh, SAS Global Manager for International Development. “This is big data analytics for the masses.”

Many ways to explore the data

Users can explore several views, including:

  • Imports/exports. Top importers and exporters by world, region and country, and what commodities they trade.
  • Trade balance. Top commodities bought and sold on a global or country level.
  • Trade composition. Most frequently traded commodities by partners.
  • Mirror statistics. A comparison of import/export data, as reported by partners on both sides of a trade relationship.
  • Trade history. Top trading partners for any given country, with an animated bubble plot tracking relationships over the time.
  • Data. All data, presented in tabular format with powerful filters.
  • Historical analysis. See trade history across any combination of partner(s), commodities and year(s)

 No-cost and low-cost versions available

SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade offers several interactive visualizations at no cost. For example, the Mirror Statistics analysis, which tracks reporting discrepancies between hundreds of trading partners across thousands of commodities, is free.  While the deepest levels of details are reserved for the advanced subscription-based reports, users can glean valuable information for research and decision making from the free version. Subscriptions are available for a nominal fee of $25/week, $50/month or $500/year.

SAS® data visualization unlocks insights

SAS Visual Analytics is an in-memory solution for exploring enormous amounts of data quickly. Users can spot patterns, identify opportunities for further analysis, and convey results with visual clarity. Quickly formatting large amounts of data for processing, SAS Visual Analytics lets users explore all data and not just a sample. They can execute analytic correlations on billions of rows of information in just minutes or seconds, and present results in easy-to-understand charts, graphs and animations.

Today's announcement was made at SAS Global Forum, the world's largest gathering of SAS users, attended by more than 5,000 business and IT users of SAS software and solutions.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in analytics. Through innovative analytics, business intelligence and data management software and services, SAS helps customers at more than 83,000 sites make better decisions faster. Since 1976, SAS has been giving customers around the world THE POWER TO KNOW®.

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Comtrade US Tobacco

SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade trade balance report reveals significance of tobacco to US-Malawi trade(click image for hi-res)

Comtrade Top Importers

SAS Visual Analytics for UN Comtrade users can drill into data on the top importers and commodities(click image for hi-res)

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