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Charting the way forward for digital trade

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The World Trade Symposium 2022

The World Trade Symposium serves as a focal point for global trade executives to interact, collaborate, and re-envision tomorrow’s marketplaces.

Bringing together global and regional experts in business, finance, technology, government, supply chains, policy, economics and non-profit organisations, the symposium aims to inspire, educate and support the future of connected commerce. The goal is to improve lives by promoting open, sustainable and inclusive trade.

The accelerated digitalisation of trade in the past two years represents tremendous opportunities for all partners in global supply chains, but there are still numerous challenges to overcome. The economic recovery from the pandemic is now threatened by the Russia-Ukraine War, which has the potential to further divide and disrupt trade flows at unprecedented levels. 

The World Trade Symposium 2022 will bring together top chief executives and political leaders for a day of intense debate and discussion on these critical subjects. It will examine the new trade lines established during the covid-19 pandemic and the disruption due to the Ukraine-Russia war, the spread and influence of digital trade technologies and the potential problems that lie ahead.

As the digital transition in progress intensifies—lowering costs and reorganising supply chains—forward-thinking shippers, banks, trading blocs and fintechs are leading the way. All governments, firms and trade practitioners now confront the pressing need to comprehend technological developments and the practical and policy issues involved in seizing the potential of digital trade.

Politicians and non-governmental organisations also predict that digital technology and standards will expand commerce to millions of smaller and micro-businesses worldwide, paving the way for a new era of global wealth. Digital monitoring and provenance systems could improve sustainability while simultaneously lowering carbon emissions.

The day of the symposium will start with an opening keynote session featuring Simon Paris (Finastra), Mathias Cormann (OECD), Lynette Thorstensen (Fairtrade International), and Guy Platten (International Chamber of Shipping). Digital technology, legislation and standards have the potential to alter trade and pave the way for enterprises, regions and countries to succeed. The session will focus on how digital technologies can accelerate trade in the future, and on how businesses can master digital commerce in 2022 and beyond by identifying the techniques that will significantly affect the future of trade. The speakers will also discuss the impact of the Ukraine-Russia war on the global trade order. The day’s second session will be a fireside chat with José Viñals (Standard Chartered), focusing on how forces and megatrends will shape global trade. That will be followed by a fierce debate on whether digitalisation will benefit everyone equally.

The next set of sessions will offer insights into innovation through a combination of presentations and audience Q&A. Case studies will highlight key takeaways from innovators and show how they are furthering the digitalisation agenda within their organisations and with their stakeholders, the session will demonstrate how innovators changed their organisations’ processes and systems to increase resilience, revealing the changing nature of supply chains and the need to diversify and establish lucrative pathways, while highlighting opportunities for businesses and consumers. The second session in this set will address critical questions around interoperability, regulation and standardisation in marketplaces and trade platforms. A third case study will focus on empowering small and medium-sized enterprises through digital financing.

Afternoon sessions will focus on “building outcomes for good”. The first will explore opportunities for a sustainable future using digital technologies, exposing the audience to strategies for successfully pivoting to achieve sustainable results using digital technology, and emphasising the opportunities available for solution providers and the significant benefits enjoyed by early adopters. The second of these sessions will focus on “technology for global prosperity”, communicating the role of technology innovation in supporting regional and global integration, sharing the most up-to-date information on policies and standards, and assessing the effect of innovation on financial inclusion and the global economy. The session will also discuss the possible impact of the war on global prosperity and how it threatens the liberal world order. Finally, the third session in this set will focus on bridging the trade finance gap using digital technologies. Key takeaways will revolve around how digital financing and global standards can help close the trade finance gap, what progress that has already been made and measures that still need to be taken to boost economic growth.

The last block of sessions will focus on reviving trade. The closing keynote interview with Lord Grimstone of Boscobel will focus on how economic development, inclusivity and sustainability have become critical for both developed and emerging economies as the globe recovers from the covid-19 crisis. It will address how businesses need to use digital technology to achieve these goals, and how governments can give clear rules and assistance. The last session, featuring Charlotte Hogg (Visa Europe), Julian David (TechUK) and Linda Yueh (Oxford University and London Business School), will focus on setting a global digital trade agenda. What should that agenda be, and what can members of the audience do on a personal and organisational level to make the digital future more inclusive and sustainable? How will the global digital trade agenda be affected by the war and what can businesses do to successfully steer their ship in these turbulent times?  After a day of debate, discussion and connection, we will ask everyone to share the actions they plan to take personally and organisationally to reshape digital trade and carve out a route to global prosperity.