The Fourth Industrial Revolution – driven by rapid technological change and digitalization – has already had a profound impact on global trade, economic growth and social progress. Cross-border e-commerce has generated trillions of dollars in economic activity in recent years and continues to accelerate. The ability of data to move across borders underpins new business models, boosting global GDP by 10% in the last decade alone. It has enabled the use of blockchain technology for good, such as increasing efficiency and transparency in international trade. However, digital trade barriers including outdated regulations, fragmented governance and strict data localization policies could potentially hamper these gains. At the same time, policy-makers must balance societal concerns in the digital commercial space while stakeholders need to navigate divergent national responses.
The Digital Trade portfolio supports the development of policy frameworks and governance protocols that maximize the benefits of digital trade and data flows while addressing other legitimate policy objectives. Government, the private sector, civil society, academia and other stakeholders co-design and pilot these frameworks and protocols to test theories about impact, iterate based on lessons learned and then scale up adoption globally.
Drawing from the results of ongoing Forum initiatives and meetings with high-level policy-makers and experts, the Digital Trade portfolio has identified several areas for potential projects, including partnerships in Latin America, the Middle East and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These will support regional efforts to develop integrated digital markets and provide the foundation for a broader application of other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. The Digital Trade portfolio contains projects that fall under one of three overarching themes: Enabling e-commerce, TradeTech, and cross-border data flows.