Visualizing Trade Agreements: An Interactive R Shiny App


I recently created an interactive tool for visualizing existing trade agreements based on the Design of Trade Agreements (DESTA) Database. The dataset includes customs unions, free trade agreements or partial free trade agreements of various types that have been signed between 1945 and mid-2016.

My ‘app’ PTA Links creates a network of lines representing these treaties between up to five countries, which can be selected in the field on the left. In addition, it creates a table which lists all agreements, including their name, the year they entered into force and the total number of member states. It also allows to exclude the most common asymmetric trade relationships, i.e., the Global System of Trade Preferences and the EU-ACP trade relationships.

The tool isn’t perfect and there is much room for improvement with regard to both performance and presentation – and to be fair, the data might also not be ideally suited for this kind of visualization.