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October 10, 2018

Digital technologies will have a trans-formative impact on global trade, says WTO

According to a report from the World Trade Organization (WTO) digital technologies will have a profound impact on global trade, adding up to 34 percentage points to trade growth by 2030 thanks to lower costs and higher productivity.

The report shows that digital technologies are likely to further reduce trade costs and boost trade significantly, especially in services and for developing countries. Global trade is projected to grow by an additional 2 percentage points annually between 2016 and 2030 as a result of digitalization, falling trade costs and the increased use of services.

The report discusses how digital technologies can unlock savings, such as through better route planning, autonomous driving and smart inventories made possible by artificial intelligence and robotics. Blockchain solutions – a system of decentralized, digital transactions – can reduce time spent on customs compliance and logistics. These technologies can therefore reduce transportation and storage costs, which represent a major share of overall trade costs.

The report also argues that new technologies are likely to change the established ways the world trades. 3D printing and advanced robotics could reduce the role of labour as a source of comparative advantage. 3D printing, furthermore, may to some extent reduce the need for outsourced assembly, the number of production steps and other factors related to global value chains.

Link: World Trade Report 2018 Executive Summary

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