Resources Trade

Trade Data – Visualization tools

I recently noted a number of data visualization tools which can be useful when exploring and comparing worlwide Trade Data and I’ve found them useful when looking at data related to UK trade.

The Observatory of Economic Complexity is a tool for presenting interactive visualizations of international trade data, and was created as a result of a Masters Thesis in Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab by Alexander Simoes.

Details of this tool can be found here:

The observatory is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is an similar tool for visualizing international Trade Data and allows you to explore imports and exports based on individual products addressing numerous diverse questions such as “Who imported Apricots in 2015” (which, btw, appears to be a favourite in China!)

The Atlas can answer questions such as:

  • What does a country import and export?
  • How has its trade evolved over time?
  • What are the drivers of export growth?
  • Which new industries are likely to emerge in a given geography? Which are likely to disappear?
  • What are the GDP growth prospects of a given country in the next 5-10 years, based on its productive capabilities?

“The Atlas of Economic Complexity,” is from the Center for International Development at Harvard University,

The Atlas online is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License

Both tools use international trade data and includes data based on exports, not production data. The data also only includes goods, and not details about services. The tools are published as Open Source and can be found on github at

Examination of Trade Data can be useful in understanding the relationship and interdependencies of trade between the UK and countries in Europe and the rest of the world. It may indicate that the EU may still have an interest in maintaining a good relationship with the UK in order to have tariff free access to the UK market just as much as the UK has an interest in retaining tariff free access to the EU single market.

Example using the Observatory of Economic Complexity

Based on the latest data available, from 2015, it is easy to quickly examine imports and exports between the UK and other countries, in an interactive way as follows:


The UK imported more goods (worth $592B) than it exported (worth $443B) resulting in a trade deficit in 2015.

UK Imports

The UK imported goods worth $592B in 2015.

The largest number of imports came from Germany worth $92.5B ( 16% of imports), then China $61.1B (10%), the USA $55.9B (9.4%), the Netherlands $43B (7.3%) and France $37.8B (6.4%)

From European countries as a whole, including Russia and other non-EU countries, the UK imported goods worth a total of $346B

UK Exports

The UK exported goods worth $443B in 2015.

The UK exported goods worth $66.3B (15% of exports) to the USA, then Germany $46B (10%), Switzerland $33.9B (7.7%) China $27.5B (6.2%) and France $26.4B (6.0%)

To European countries as a whole, including Russia and other non-EU countries, the UK exported goods worth a total of $239B (A trade deficit with Europe totalling $104B)

Example using the Atlas of Economic Complexity

The trade in Cars is often used as an example when analysing trade between the UK and the EU (and vice versa).

Using the data visualization tool, The ATLAS of Economic Complexity, my investigation into the trade in Cars, based on figures from 2015 shows:


The worldwide market in cars is worth $645 billion.

Who makes them ?

Germany exported the most cars worth $146B (or 23% of the market) followed by Japan at $84B (13% ), USA $52.6B (8%), Canada $44.4B (7%) then the UK $36B (6%) and Korea Rep. (6%)

Who buys them ?

Countries in Europe, not just the EU, imported cars worth a total $270B which is 42% of the total market.

The USA imported cars worth a total of $161B which is 25% of the market.

The UK imported cars worth a total of $48.7B (8%) closely followed by Germany spending $45.7B (7%), China ($37.3 6%) and France ($29.7 5%).

European Countries

The same data can be explored at a European level:

Cars exported from Euopean countries

Germany exports 43% of the cars exported from European countries, followed by the UK (10%), Spain (9%), Belgium (7%) and then France (5%)

Cars imported into European countries

The UK imports 18% of the cars imported into European countries, followed by Germany (17%), France (11%), Belgium (8%) and Italy (8%).

EU Resources


Various interesting and/or useful links.

Negotiating documents on Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom


IndexMundi contains detailed country statistics, charts, and maps compiled from multiple sources. You can explore and analyze thousands of indicators organized by region, country, topic, industry sector, and type.

Examining the UK’s relationship with the EU

Following on from a 2010 election and Coalition Government pledge to ‘repatriate’ EU competences to the UK, in July 2012 the Government launched a Review of the Balance of Competences, which it described as “an audit of what the EU does and how it affects the UK”

World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The WTO, which was established in 1995, and its predecessor organization the GATT have helped to create a strong and prosperous international trading system. It currently has 162 members. The UK has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 1 January 1948. All EU member States are WTO members, as is the EU in its own right.

Information about the WTO can be found at

Brexit and the World Trade Organization

An article, by Gregory Messenger – a Lecturer in Law at the University of Liverpool, which discusses the consequences from a World Trade Organization (WTO) perspective if the UK were to leave the EU.

European Commission – Departments and Services

The Commission is divided into several departments and services. The departments are known as Directorate-Generals (DGs). This page has links to the various departments.

Information provided by the EU

The EU is active in a wide range of area, from human rights to transport and trade.

Useful links providing information on these topics can be found at

UK in a Changing Europe

The UK in a Changing Europe initiative is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and based at King’s College London. The Initiative explores the key aspects of UK and EU dynamics. Their website provides a wealth of information exploring numerous issues which may affect how you decide to vote.

They have also produced a useful document, in conjunction with Full Fact the UK’s independent fact checking organisation, to provide impartial information on claims made by both the Remain and Leave campaigns on various topics

Leave/Remain: The Facts behind the claims

Full Fact

Full Fact is the UK’s independent, non-partisan, factchecking charity. It checks claims made by politicians, the media, pressure groups, and other voices in public debate, and pushes for corrections where necessary.


The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) provides informed, independent and practical legal ideas for a global community.

British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

Comments on Brexit


Seven Brexit Endgame Scenarios – A guide to the parliamentary process of withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)