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Review about country data

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Service/portal name: http://www.countrydata.com

Source description: Country Data, produced by The PRS Grroup (http://www.prsgroup.com), provides a complete dataset of political economic, and social indicators to help any company doing business in a foreign country keep up with trends that may affect current and future business.

Among the target audience for this resource are purchasing agents, project planners, marketing and sales organizations, and risk management departments.

What are the current political risks to foreign investment? Are there any negative risk factors that might affect my company’s upcoming supplier contract negotiations?

My company has a successful business relationship in Bulgaria and would like to assess the risk of expanding into Armenia. How do the factors in these countries compare? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered by this resource.

Pricing: The cost for a search on Country Data is based on a pricing discount model and is the same regardless of which search method you use.

The more factors you choose, the lower the per-factor cost. For example, selecting ten ICRG risk factors (see description below) costs 10 times $0.75, or $7.50.

Choosing one hundred factors costs 100 times $0.32, or $32. The scale for the economic indicators is different. A link on the data-point selection page provides a complete chart of the pricing model.

Note that the estimated price and the final price may not be the same. This is not a problem, since the user has the option to retun to the selection screen to make any needed changes before agreeing to purchase a report.

Source content: Country Data includes a variety of domestic economic indicators (e.g., GDP, real growth rate, and unemployment rate), international economic indicators (foreign direct investment, debt service ratio, and foreign trade balance), International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) ratings (foreign debt as percent of GDP, international liquidity, and exchange rate stability), Coplin-O’Leary ratings and forecasts (eighteen-month and five-year risk projections for most likely political regimes, direct investment, and export market), and social indicators (annual population growth, ethnic groups, and literacy).

These are but a small sampling from the complete list of factors available. A thorough description of the data points and methodology for determining each rating is provided online.

The second tool for retrieving data from this site creates a report based on a single country. After selecting the country, the user is presented with a page where various risk factors can be selected.

The number of factors available depends of the country chosen. Some selections allow for the addition of a time frame. Again, the screen is updated to show an estimated cost.

The data for this resource come from a variety of publicly available sources. Researchers at The PRS Group compute the factors based on this information, and the final ratings are uploaded to the site monthly.

In addition to viewing and printing online, the user can download all retrieved reports as comma-delimited files.

Source evaluation: Country Data is fairly easy to use, but a lack of consistency in design keeps the site from receiving high marks in this category.

The two methods provided for creating reports work differently. When interacting with the Data Wizard, it is possible to use the common control-click keystrokes to select multiple options before adding the data points for includsion in the final report.

This is not possible when creating a report for a single country, in which case the user must add options one at a time.

The site does not offer online training. Instead, the user is directed to customer support; there is no charge for this service. I had a question while reviewing the site and contacted customer support by e-mail. I received a response the next day with the answer.

Documentation for the site is provided in a FAQ section (the link is on the PRS home page) that provides answers to questions for all of the services provided by The PRS Group.

Nevertheless, I found myself going in circles trying to learn more about the Country Data service. For instance, under the Country Data portion of the FAQ (under the question “What data is available?”) there is a link to a “complete listing” of the data available.

Following this link takes the user to a page showing “some of the data” available on the site. There I found a list of about eighty data points that seemed to be complete. Although the path was a little less than intuitive, I found it easy enough to follow.

Nevertheless, the link should instead point to the Our Methodology page, which provides examples of how the data can be used, descriptions of various risk factors, and an explanation of the ratings system.

This is a must-read. (Note: The Our Methodology page is another of those links available from the left-side menu bar. It does look useful for understanding this data and where it comes from.)

Overall, the Country Data site is easy to use and cost-effective. The ability to select only the risk factors of interest for a particular request helps to keep costs reasonable, and the large number of factors to choose from allows for a complete look at the risk involved in doing business in a foreign country. If a company needs an in-depth view of a particular country, the Country Reports resource, also published by the PRS Group, may be more appropriate.

Source value rating: All of the data source reviewers were asked to rate each source on the basis of the following eight categories, using “10” as the highest rating and “1” as the lowest (“80” being a perfect score):
1. Relative cost-to-value:   10
2. Relative timeliness of data:   10
3. Relative comprehensiveness of data:  10
4. Ease of use:     8
5. Search options available:   8
6. Level of support services:   10
7. Level of training offered:   6
8. Amount/kinds of special services offered: 10
Total Rating:     72
Useful tips
• Read the Our Methodology section of the FAQ to understand the rating system.

• To save money, make sure you thoroughly understand the question before starting your search.
 

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