Who developed World Trade REF?

World Trade REF was developed and is maintained by World Trade Press, a publishing company founded in 1993 specializing in products for the international trade community. Since then, the company has published more than 120 reference books, 26 large-scale online databases, 6,500 proprietary maps, several foreign language learning products, and dozens of products used by importers, exporters, logistics professionals, bankers, attorneys, trade promotion agencies, and university-level students of international business worldwide.

What is World Trade REF, and what makes it unique?

World Trade REF is a single-source reference product covering topics of importing, exporting, global logistics, international business, international banking, law, packing, shipping, insurance, and e-commerce.

World Trade REF is unique in that it covers all these topics individually, includes 174 Country Business Guides, and has this information all in one place.

Who uses World Trade REF?

Users are worldwide and include importers, exporters, logistics professionals, bankers, attorneys, e-commerce marketers, trade promotions agencies, chambers of commerce, international marketing and advertising professionals, government agencies, and universities.

What are your sources?

World Trade REF is a large product, and many sources were and are used to develop and maintain the product.

Here is an abbreviated list:

Individual Contributors:

  • See Contributors at this link.

Institutional Contributors

  • Airlines for America (formerly Air Transport Association)
  • BNSF Railway
  • CIGNA Worldwide
  • Currency Layer (foreign exchange rate data updated daily)
  • Ernst & Young (individual and corporate tax information for countries of the world)
  • Forum for International Trade Training (FITT)
  • Google Maps (country, metro, airport, and seaport maps without advertising)
  • Greenbrier Companies (railcar illustrations and specifications)
  • HAM Weather (current weather conditions worldwide)
  • Hapag-Lloyd Shipping Line (container packing guide and container specifications)
  • IATA (International Air Transport Association)
  • Insurance Company of North America
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • ITU (International Telephone Union)
  • Law Offices of George R. Tuttle
  • Maritime Security Council
  • Roanoke Trade Services
  • Sea Land Shipping
  • Swiss Bank Corporation
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • United Nations
  • Wells Fargo HSBC Bank
  • World Bank (business formation guides worldwide)
  • Zisser Customs Law Group

Country-Level Agencies

World Trade Press also obtains information from a plethora of governmental agencies from more than 170 countries. These include:

  • Census departments
  • Commerce and trade departments
  • Import authorities
  • Export authorities
  • Travel promotion agencies
  • Departments of foreign affairs

In-Country Professionals

More than 50 in-country professionals (bankers, lawyers, and logistics professionals) have also contributed. See Contributors list at this link.

Native Speaker Video Production

In 2014, World Trade Press built a professional video studio and production facility to shoot native speaker video clips and other videos. More than 76,000 video clips were produced using more than 80 native speaker video talents.

Offshore Vendors

World Trade Press has long-term relationships with five offshore research firms in India, Israel, and the Philippines that develop and maintain specific modules of content on a proprietary basis. (These firms do custom research and development for content modules based upon our design parameters and do not resell it to others.) Most of these are directory-type modules such as:

  • Embassies and consulates worldwide
  • Translations (in the Language Glossary modules)
  • Media outlets
  • Major banks by country
  • Bulk image collection for modules such as Major Banks and Media Outlets.

Public Domain Content

World Trade Press includes public domain content when helpful and appropriate. For example, many documents, guides, and manuals sourced from US Customs, European Union, IMF, World Bank, United Nations, and others are used throughout the product.

This content constitutes approximately 5 percent of the product by volume.

How does World Trade Press vet content?

World Trade Press vets country information in a number of ways:

  • By Source A

    We have identified certain sources as top-tier global sources that we assume to be correct unless proven otherwise by specific contradictory information. These include The World Bank, the IMF, Ernst & Young, Google Maps, Expedia, the International Telecommunications Union, etc.

  • By Source B

    We have identified certain sources as “best available under the circumstances.” These include country-specific census, trade, import, export, and other agencies. These agencies often have the most up-to-date statistical data available. However, “most up-to-date” may mean that it is three years old. We do our best to cross-verify information, but even this may be difficult or impossible for very small countries or for countries that deliberately supply misinformation.

  • Country Expert Source A

    These are educated and experienced professionals who are native to a country or world city. We assume their information to be correct based upon our evaluation of their work and whether it fits logically with what our experienced and well-traveled staff knows about these locals, and on feedback from client users.

  • Country Expert Source B

    These are educated and experienced professionals such as expats, missionaries, and others with actual on-the-ground living experience but who are not necessarily native to the locale.

  • Expert Reviews

    For country and world city reviews, we have individuals with significant native, expat, or travel exposure review entire country listings.

How frequently are modules updated?

World Trade Press develops and maintains information in a number of categories:

Very Static Information

This is information that essentially never changes. Examples include language translations. For example, the French say oui for yes and have been doing so for a very long time; we expect that they will continue to do so far into the future.

This category of information has been in our products for some time, and we only make a change if someone happens upon a typo or error. This is now very rare.

Mostly Static Information

This is information that may change, but does so slowly over time, typically taking a generation for a noticeable change. This includes many of the culture and business culture modules of content: Life Stages (in nine modules), Greetings and Courtesies, Gift Giving, Time Orientation, Food and Recipes, Business Meetings, Negotiating, and others.

These modules have been vetted over and over and are typically only modified when a) we have a whole country review by a person of a younger generation, or b) when a client calls something to our attention. This is quite rare, but does happen. A recent experience was with a 22-year-old native reviewer of the Denmark cultural articles who brought us up to date on current dating and courtship rituals in Denmark.

Directory Type Data A

This is information that has both static and variable components. Examples include Embassies and Consulates, Major Banks, Import and Export Authorities, Holidays and Festivals, etc. The name often stays the same, but addresses or web URLs might change, and holiday and festival dates change from year to year.

These modules are generally updated on a whole-world basis every 9 to 14 months. Updates to these modules depend upon our assessment of the magnitude of changes happening, or as information is presented to us, or when a whole country review occurs. Updates also occur on a more regular basis (typically every six months) for top-tier countries of greatest interest to our clients. These countries include the top 50 economies of the world.

Directory Type Data B

This is data that changes significantly with time. A good example is the Government Leaders module. We used to update this module based upon the US CIA Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments feed. However, we found the CIA data to be consistently out of date. We now employ a research firm in India that scans more than 200 web feeds every two weeks for changes. We used to update this on a whole world basis once a year, but now do it on a global basis with customized automated “data scraping” tools twice a month.

This can be a problematic area. We once got a call from an upset user who pointed out that we had not reported a second-tier cabinet change in a third-tier country that happened three days earlier. At the moment, we find that clients are good with an update once every two weeks.

News Feeds

Some of our products contain news feeds. These are through a proprietary World Trade Press/Google search API and include: Top Stories, Business, Crime, Environment, Finance, Politics, Science, and Technology. News feeds are presented in real time.

In Overview

Very static data is reviewed once every few years or when someone brings something to our attention.

Static data is looked over once a year, whenever we do a whole country review, or when something is brought to our attention.

Directory data is reviewed once per year or when someone brings something to our attention.

We have a rolling review of countries where we have a country expert review everything from top to bottom. This is in addition to the whole world reviews that we do on a module basis. (Such as with Embassies and Consulates.)

What about update expectations?

As with any information product, it is best to understand and establish expectations.

  • Our culture-related modules have very wide and deep coverage of cultural information that does not change much over time.
  • Our mid-range country products have a great deal of cultural information plus current information on travel, transportation, climate and weather, and news feeds, but were never designed to be “late breaking news” products.
  • Our business-level products were designed to have up-to-date information on export and import regulations, business formation, and tax information, but, once again, were designed to be up to date, but not up to the minute. An example of this is our inclusion of the world-class Ernst & Young corporate and personal tax guides for countries of the world. These are updated once per year and are the most respected compilation of their kind worldwide.

Finally, it is helpful to understand that with such a large database of information and an ever-changing world, there will always be snippets of information that are in need of updating. If a module is updated once a year and a change occurs one month after a review, it may be 11 months before an update is made.

I see that a module is blank. Where is the information?

Usually, we wait for 100 percent of a module’s content to be ready before we activate it on the front end of a product. However, there are times when the front end may be activated before a module is complete. If a module is blank, it usually means that we expect to have the content within two weeks maximum.

What is the current state of updates and upgrades?

World Trade REF has been undergoing a major update and upgrade since mid-2021.

As of this writing (February 24, 2022):

  1. The main structure of the revised product is fully in place.
  2. Approximately 95 percent of the existing product has been vetted and placed into the new product.
  3. Approximately 7,500 entirely new modules of content have been added to the product since June 2021.
  4. All 11 of the 120 country-level import articles have been revised and updated.
  5. All six of the 120 country-level export articles will be revised and updated by April 15, 2022.
  6. Approximately 800 new content modules will be added by April 15, 2022.

What new features are scheduled?

Here are just a few of the new features scheduled for 2022:

  1. Harmonized schedule code look-up tool
  2. Tariff schedules for more than 80 countries
  3. Advertising Law modules for additional countries
  4. Ease of Doing Business modules for all countries
  5. Detailed country-level income statistical data
  6. Market Research modules for income, literacy, bank accounts, cell phone usage, and other consumer-related items
  7. Comprehensive country-level energy modules for petroleum and renewable sources
  8. Industry-specific global market reports
  9. Additional general and country-level e-commerce marketing information
  10. Country-level central bank information
  11. US Customs Bulletin (current and historic)
  12. US product-specific import compliance information (70+/- industry reports)
  13. Detailed information on all US free trade programs
  14. Country Rankings modules listing 50+ global rankings for each country
  15. Additional country-specific import and export forms
  16. Additional Business Entity and Business Formation information for each country
  17. Individual country screening lists
  18. Market intelligence reports for individual countries
  19. Country-level intellectual property (trademark and copyright) information

Contact your sales rep for specific information about these new features.

Is the product mobile-friendly?

Yes, the product will work well on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Full page view of certain forms and documents, however, is limited on very small screens.

Is the product ADA compliant?

The product will be ADA compliant by May 1, 2022.

Where can I get a document citation for individual articles?

Document citation copy is available on each content page.


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