Digital Payments, E-Commerce, Cloud, 5G, AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain Considered Most Transformative Technologies for Enhancing Global Trade: Report

Di Dai from the World Economic Forum (WEF), a Switzerland-based international NGO that’s “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas,” confirms that the Coronavirus crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and services.

According to Dai, digital technology integration and usage across different platforms has kept global trade flowing even as the movement of individuals has been restricted due to COVID-19 and related lockdown measures. She notes that from (internet-of-things) IoT based apps to digital payments, technologies are transforming the trade ecosystem.

Dai claims that these paradigm-changing technologies haven’t been studied extensively, which is why the WEF will be releasing a report on how digital technologies and related innovations can make international trade a lot more efficient, inclusive and “equitable.”

She further notes that Mapping TradeTech: Trade in the Fourth Industrial Revolution was prepared with assistance from over 50 global industry experts, policy-makers, academics and civil society leaders. It offers a detailed summary of the impact of emerging technologies (Emtech) on the international trade system, including the most “transformative” technologies, according to a survey of respondents from throughout the global supply chain worldwide, and major trends, from “geographical considerations” and the key changes in the logistics sectors to supply chain “resilience.”

The most “transformative” technologies for conducting trading activity based on the WEF’s global survey: IoT in supply chain, digital payments, e-commerce platforms, Cloud computing, 5G, AI / machine learning (ML), digital documentation / e-signature / digital identity, smart border systems, blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT), robotics / automation,  digital services other than digital payment, open supply chain information systems, virtual reality / augmented reality / mixed reality, 3D printing / additive manufacturing, others.

Ziyang David Fan, Head of Digital Trade, World Economic Forum, stated:

“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 harmonization and a widening digital divide. Businesses and policy-makers have to work together in order to fully unlock the potential of new technologies for trade.”

Jimena Sotelo, Project Lead, Digital Trade, World Economic Forum, remarked:

“Today’s trade is not just driven by low-wage labor arbitrage or access to resources. International value chains become more and more knowledge intense, partially thanks to embedded technology. 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.”

Alanoud Hamad Al-Thani, Managing Director, Qatar Financial Centre Authority, stated:

“TradeTech holds significant promise in facilitating trade transactions and lowering associated costs for Qatar and its financial institutions that are not located globally.”

Emmanuelle Ganne, Senior Analyst, Economic Research Department, World Trade Organization, added:

“Disruptive technologies can be a game changer for trade and SME inclusion, but don’t come without challenges. Understanding these challenges is essential to ensure that TradeTech benefits all.” 

Ali Al Shidhani, Undersecretary for Communications and Information Technology at Ministry of Transportation, Oman Government, Oman, noted:

“Traditional trade moves physical goods across borders, technology augments the physical limitations with endless opportunities. Trade Tech is at the forefront of Oman’s economic agenda.” 

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