Technology is reshaping trade flows faster than trade policies can adapt. Disruptions from emerging technologies such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, and Internet of Things (IoT), will accelerate in the coming decades. For example, 3D Printing could reduce international trade volume, while blockchain could add trillions to international trade by improving efficiencies in tracking documents and goods.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution (“4IR”), international trade needs to be not only more efficient, but more inclusive and equal -- so that MSMEs and developing countries can benefit from the innovations equally as MNCs and developed nations. How should policy-makers and companies react and plan in this rapidly changing landscape, while ensure technologies advance equality and inclusion in international trade?

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.

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 one of the first global platforms that focus on integrating emerging technologies with international trade. It creates and develops partnerships to co-design the norms and policies around incorporating emerging technologies into trade. The community focuses on improving understanding of the changes currently taking place in digital trade, and develops potential policy and business responses to help stakeholders formulate forward-looking strategies.

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