Worth Reading

World Trade Report 2018: The future of world trade

How digital technologies are transforming global commerce

Trade has always been shaped by technology but the rapid development of digital technologies in recent times has the potential to transform international trade profoundly in the years to come. The World Trade Report 2018 examines how digital technologies – and in particular the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and Blockchain – affect trade costs, the nature of what is traded and the composition of trade. It estimates how global trade may be affected by these technologies over the next 15 years.

The Report finds that one of the most significant impacts of digital technologies is the extent to which they will reduce trade costs. In addition, digital technologies will affect the composition of trade by increasing the services component, fostering trade in certain goods such as time-sensitive products, changing patterns of comparative advantage and affecting the complexity and length of global value chains. A number of simulations outlined in the Report show that future technological changes are expected to increase trade growth, especially in trade in services, and that developing countries are likely to gain an increasing share of global trade.

The Report concludes that the expansion of digital trade is likely to entail considerable benefits but that international cooperation is needed to help governments ensure that digital trade continues to be an engine of inclusive economic development.

The full report can be downloaded here











Making trade work for the environment, prosperity and resilience

International trade offers unique opportunities to help tackle mounting environmental challenges while fostering economic and social prosperity. This new co-publication by the World Trade Organization and UN Environment illustrates how trade can support action by governments, companies, innovators and consumers to improve economies and protect the environment at the same time.

The publication highlights the need for coordinated action, along with fit-for-purpose policies and institutions, to expand the contribution of trade for a better and more resilient environment. It illustrates how the WTO and UN Environment are working together to support countries in identifying opportunities to use trade proactively to promote sustainability and prosperity, and to strengthen international co-operation to deliver benefits for all.

In a joint foreword to the publication, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and UN Environment Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Erik Solheim say: “Our aim is to shine a light on opportunities to bring trade and environment closer together, and to highlight the importance of close collaboration between governments, entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, environmental activists and civil society at large. In this way, we hope to strengthen the contribution of our two organizations towards the sustainable, resilient and prosperous world we all want.”

Co-published by the WTO and UN Environment in 2018.

The full report can be had here as pdf