gKNi World Trade Indicator: Methodology and considerations

Jan. 10, 2019

The global cyclical activity and the unrest of trade relations draw special attention to global trade levels. In this note, we clarify the methodology of the gKNi World Trade Indicator (WTI).



The gKNi World Trade Indicator measures the momentum of cross-border merchandise trade in real time and identifies the turning points at an early stage. This daily updated indicator is one of the Global Kuehne + Nagel Indicators (gKNi) operated by LogIndex AG, part of the Kuehne + Nagel Group.

The WTI is a relative index composed of LogIndex’s export and import for the last calendar month (base 100 being the trade observed in January 2010). By relying on Logindex own forecast of 17 of the largest economies, the indicator front runs by approximately two months similar indices which are only produced for actual official releases. The 17 countries considered, account for over 60% of international trade and more than 75% of GDP World.


The WTI is seasonally and working-day adjusted, and measures trade in nominal USD value. This value indicator simultaneously reflects volume and price development, not adjusting for inflation nor currency movements against the USD.

As a relative index, its value is a comparison of a month’s trade level with a base month (January 2010 in the case of gKNi WTI). While a month comparison can be calculated taking two observations of the index, a comparison of periods longer than one month (e.g. yearly trade) requires aggregation of the individual observations in each of the periods.

Under these considerations, global trade is estimated to have risen by 9.5% in the year 2018 (in comparison with 2017’s 9.7%). Our analysis sees the increase in 2018 resulting from both volume growth and higher prices.

CPB, the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, estimates volume only growth at 4.0% for the period of January to October 2018 when compared with an equal period in 2017. Simultaneously, the prices of primary commodities, such as food and beverages, agricultural raw products, energy, minerals and nonferrous metals, increased by an average of 13.4% in 2018. Totaling about 30% of the balance of trade in the developed economies, those goods alone inflated value by approximately 4% on the price side in 2018.


About gKNi Trade Nowcasting

Global Kuehne + Nagel indicators provide insights gained from tracking real-time data of global trade and the logistics industry. The indicators combine anonymized, aggregated shipment data across different transport modes with sources, such as throughput of ports, daily customs data, as well as detailed vessel and aircraft movements. The external data originates from different sources and includes the Automatic Identification System (AIS) for shipping traffic based on satellite data, radar information from air traffic and other economic indicators.

The value proposition

gKNi Trade Nowcasting enables advanced insights into foreign trade and industrial production, with daily updates, starting up to 60 days prior to the official release date. The system warns of trade and industrial production deviations from consensus or historical averages. In-depth trade relationships can be analysed: merchandise trade can be tracked between countries or by sector (High-Tech, Consumer, Industrial, Automotive, Oil & Gas, Pharma). In addition, the tools are a support planning tool for investors, asset managers, procurement specialists, CEOs or CFOs.

About the broader impact of trade nowcasting: Overall, taking into account real economic data should increase visibility and reduce market volatility, as the new instruments provide early warning signals and enable ongoing stress tests.

Follow the daily updated World Trade Indicator: https://logindex.com/products/wti/