Kiel Trade Indicator

The Kiel Trade Indicator estimates the trade flows (imports and exports) of 75 countries worldwide. The world map shows an expected increase (green) or decrease (red) for the individual countries. Clicking on a country opens a graph with more details. Estimated are the unilateral trade flows of a country with the rest of the world. The Kiel Trade Indicator is updated around the 3rd and 20th of each month.

Data update 4 August, 2021

Developments in global trade in goods were subdued in July. At least, the Kiel Trade Indicator signals a stronger than expected recovery of trade with China after congestions off Chinese ports have eased. Foreign trade in Germany, the EU as a whole, and the USA seems to be slightly weaker than what had been expected two weeks ago. The global container ship network is still not running smoothly.

July 2021* 

      Export Import
Germany     - 2.8 % - 0.4 %
EU     + 0.1 % - 1.4 %
USA     - 3.0 % - 3.1 %
China     + 2.2% + 6.3 %
Global trade - 0.2 %      

*Change month-on-month, nominal, seasonally adjusted.

About the Kiel Trade Indicator

The Kiel Trade Indicator estimates trade flows (imports and exports) for 75 countries worldwide, the EU and world trade as a whole. It is based on the evaluation of ship movement data in real time. An algorithm programmed at the Kiel Institute uses artificial intelligence to analyze the data and translates the ship movements into nominal, seasonally adjusted growth figures compared with the previous month.

We update the data twice a month. Around the 20th (with press release) for the current and the following month and around the 3rd (without press release) for the previous and the current month.

Arriving and departing ships are recorded for 500 ports worldwide. In addition, ship movements in 100 maritime regions are analyzed and the effective utilization of container ships is derived from draught information. Country-port correlations can be used to generate forecasts, even for countries without their own deep-sea ports.

Compared to previous leading trade indicators, the Kiel Trade Indicator is available much earlier, is much more comprehensive, relies on a uniquely large database using big data, and has a low statistical error by comparison. The algorithm of the Kiel Trade Indicator uses machine learning, so that the quality of the forecast continues to improve over time.

Methodology of the Kiel Trade Indicator

Kiel Trade Indicator Working Paper

Download historical data

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The vessel data for the Kiel Trade Indicator is provided by FleetMon


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