How global commerce is being transformed by digital technologies
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.
According to the report, the extent to which digital technologies will reduce trade costs is one of their most significant effects. Additionally, digital technologies will alter patterns of comparative advantage, alter the complexity and length of global value chains, and increase the proportion of services in trade by encouraging trade in time-sensitive goods. According to a number of simulations presented in the report, technological advancements in the future are anticipated to boost trade, particularly service trade, and that developing nations are likely to acquire a larger share of global trade.
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The Report comes to the conclusion that while the expansion of digital trade is likely to bring about significant benefits, international cooperation is required to assist governments in ensuring that digital trade continues to be an engine of economic development for all people.