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Technology is reshaping trade flows faster than trade rules and policies are adapting. Emerging technologies such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) could increase efficiency and inclusivity in global trade by enabling more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to reap its benefits and by closing the economic gap between developed and developing countries. But are these technologies really contributing to more inclusive and sustainable trade?

Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies have the potential to transform global trade, but there needs to be a new way of thinking to drive responsible innovation. 

With the rise of 4IR technologies, the means to facilitate international trade are growing too. Digitalization and advanced technologies have the potential to significantly reduce processing times and the cost of cross-border movements of goods and further facilitate trade in services. However, these technologies can bring even bigger disruptions to developed and developing society alike – on the workforce and employment, digital economy and society. 

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, the Stewardship Board of the Trade and Global Economic Interdependence Platform suggested the Forum lead initiatives to better understand the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (‘4IR’) on trade flows. The initiative would identify how 4IR technologies can help facilitate trade in the future, when the world risks becoming even more fractured than it has been in the past. 

The ‘TradeTech’, or technologies for trade, initiative is a platform for creating and developing partnerships to co-design the norms and policies around incorporating emerging technologies into trade. The community focuses on improving our understanding of the changes currently taking place in digital trade and develops potential policy responses to help governments formulate forward-looking strategies.

The Forum’s Digital Trade portfolio works with public and private partners around the world to develop a comprehensive framework for our TradeTech initiative. We welcome your ideas for potential projects that could be developed with our TradeTech community!

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