The World Economic Forum has released the top ten technologies that will change International trade. It said in its new report that COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and services, which have kept international trade flowing even as the movement of people has been restricted. From IoT to digital payments, technologies are rapidly changing the trade ecosystem, yet few have studied the opportunities and challenges that come with these changes. According to the Forum “Today, the World Economic Forum announces a first-of-its-kind report on how digital technologies and innovations can enable global trade to be more efficient, inclusive and equitable. Trade in the Fourth Industrial Revolutionwas developed in cooperation with more than 50 global industry experts, policy-makers, academics and civil society leaders. It provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of emerging technologies on the global trade system, including the top ten most transformative technologies, according to a survey of hundreds of respondents from throughout the supply chain worldwide, as well as the top seven trends, from geographical considerations and the reinvention of logistics markets to supply chain resilience.
“Most transformative technologies for trade based on the World Economic Forum’s global survey: On the one hand, TradeTech creates benefits such as efficiency gains, new digital products and services, and positive environmental impacts. On the other, TradeTech may pose challenges such as fragmented regulations, lack of data harmonisation and a widening digital divide,” said Ziyang David Fan, Head of Digital Trade, World Economic Forum. He added: “Businesses and policy-makers have to work together in order to fully unlock the potential of new technologies for trade.” TradeTech’s importance is shown by the disruptions that technologies are causing to business models, the reconfiguration of value chains, efficiency gains, the achievement of sustainable outcomes and the inclusion of micro, small and medium-size enterprises. Yet, less positive consequences may also exist and need to be mitigated to ensure TradeTech works for all.
“Today’s trade is not just driven by low-wage labour arbitrage or access to resources. International value chains become more and more knowledge intense, partially thanks to embedded technology,” said Jimena Sotelo, Project Lead, Digital Trade, World Economic Forum. “Thus, ensuring further TradeTech adoption is not just about making trade more efficient, but sometimes about ensuring trade opportunities altogether for all companies regardless of their size, and for all countries regardless of their level of development.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, automated clearance systems for issuing declarations and effective risk management as well as non-intrusive inspection equipment have made a significant difference to Customs on the ground,” said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General, World Customs Organization (WCO). “In cooperation with the World Economic Forum, the WCO is pleased to contribute to the global debate on the convergence of technology and trade,” he added. This report is a continuation of Forum’s previous work on blockchain for trade, trade and supply chain finance and 3 D printing for policy makers. More than 50 experts from the public and private sectors from all regions contributed to the report. The World Economic Forum will continue to lead this multi-stakeholder community in advancing TradeTech to enable a more efficient, inclusive and equitable global trading system for all.