Kiel World Economic Institute Predicts Imports and Exports with Artificial Intelligence

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Kiel, May 6th, 2021: On Thursday, the Institute for the World Economy presented a new, AI-based leading indicator for international trade based on real-time data from global container shipping. On the basis of up to 250,000 continuously collected data points from up to 200,000 position data and up to 50,000 additional data on inlets and outlets, supplied by FleetMon, the Kiel scientists offer continuous monitoring of imports and exports of the largest economies China, Europe, and the USA.

The evaluation of the real-time data includes position data as well as information on imports and exports from four key sectors and takes into account around 500 continuously evaluated ports and 100 economic regions including 75 countries including Germany and the European trading area. The new trade indicator enables both one-sided evaluations of a country’s imports and exports to and from the world (e.g. China) as well as bilateral trade flows between two or more countries (e.g. China and Germany).

“With the Kiel Trade Indicator, the IfW Kiel provides an early economic indicator of previously unknown quality and quantity,” said IfW President Gabriel Felbermayr on the occasion of the presentation. “High-frequency data enable us to read economic fluctuations with very little time lag. Business and politics can, for example, react much earlier to emerging distortions and take countermeasures. “

The digitally evaluated index is not only possible for trading nations with seaports (e.g. Germany with “Bremenports”, “Port of Hamburg” or Kiel), but also for landlocked countries, e.g. B. Austria with relations to German, Italian and Eastern European container ports. Country-port correlations can even be used to make forecasts for imports and exports from landlocked countries. Thanks to the real-time and detailed evaluations, the new “IfW” index competes with the German “Ifo” leading index from Munich with forecasts on exports and the economic climate as well as EU data on production development. “Ifo” and EU index are only published once at the end of each month. The data evaluated by machine learning and assessed by means of artificial intelligence are published on the “Kiel Trade Indicator” website and updated twice a month on the 3rd and 20th and officially presented to the public, including classifications.

The Kiel World Economic Institute wants to offer a more extensive, more precise and faster evaluation of global trade and, through real-time evaluation, enable greater reliability of global import and export developments – despite up to 60 days of travel time on the major container routes from Southeast Asia to Europe or North America.

Statements on the composition of shiploads with up to 20,000 standard containers (TEU) should be made by delivering the current drafts of freighters. The “IfW” even promises to predict the composition of cargoes in the future and, on the basis of historical data, AI-based also to forecast freight rates of the shipping companies in one to two years. With the latest data update from Monday of this week, the “Kiel Trade Indicator” for April 2021 an increase in exports compared to the previous month for Germany and the EU (+ 2.6% and 3.3% respectively). At the same time, China has to prepare for a significant decline (-8.8%).

The Kiel Trade Indicator of IfW Kiel is based on 200,000 vessel position data and up to 50,000 port call data

The Kiel-based company sees the reason for the slump in Chinese exports that, due to rising corona vaccination rates, consumers in Europe and the USA are starting to demand fewer consumer goods from China and more domestic services such as going to restaurants. For Germany and the EU, foreign trade remains a central pillar of the economy at the moment, ”said Vincent Stamer, head of the Kiel Trade Indicator. “The accident in the Suez Canal apparently had no lasting effects on trade flows in Europe and Germany, at least in April.”

Read the IfW Kiel’s Trade Indicator Data Update of 20 May 2021.

If the new indicator had already been available at the beginning of the corona pandemic in spring 2020, the Kiel-based company would have been able to forecast the failures in world trade shortly after, as well as the timely forecast of the resumption of trading activities. This is particularly relevant in connection with production planning for international markets. In this way, uncertainties in productions and even failures could have been minimized in the short term.

The lateral data of the Kiel Trade Indicator are available on the “IfW Kiel” website.