22 April 2022


On 12 April, the WTO and the World Economic Forum launched the publication ‘The promise of TradeTech: Policy approaches to harness trade digitalization’. The publication notes that TradeTech- - the set of technologies that enables global trade to become more efficient, inclusive and sustainable - adoption is moving fast, largely driven by the private sector, but leveraging technologies for trade requires more than innovation: trade policy must keep pace. 

The publication highlights that, although the technological innovation exists, the major challenge to the global adoption of TradeTech will be building international policy coordination and coherence. Here, trade agreements and plurilateral initiatives can play a key role. Trade agreements are generally technology neutral, and many existing trade rules apply to digital trade. Yet, developing explicit rules will be needed to provide further legal certainty as to how they apply in the digital field. Uneven deployment due to regulatory fragmentation could result in unintended consequences of unequal growth, threats to cybersecurity and a growing trend in technonationalism.

The publication identifies the building blocks for TradeTech: global data transmission and liability frameworks; global legal recognition of electronic transactions and documents; global digital identity of persons and objects; global interoperability of data models for trade documents and platforms; and global trade rules access and computational law. It stresses that although some of the building blocks are commonly covered by trade agreements, unseized opportunities and unexplored policies remain in connectivity, data sharing and e-signatures.