World Trade Report 2018



Xiaozhun Yi, Robert Koopman, et al. | World Trade Organization


Technological innovations have shaped global commerce.

From the invention of steamships, railways and the telegraph which fuelled the first industrial revolution in the early 1800s, to the advent of containerization in the 1950s and, more recently, the rise of the internet, technological innovations have significantly reduced trade costs and transformed the way we communicate, consume, produce and trade. However, technological advances are not a guarantee of greater or of stable trade growth or economic integration. In fact, over the past two centuries, it has been the ability to manage technology-driven structural changes that has largely determined whether global trade integration has progressed or regressed.

The rise of digital technologies promises to further transform international trade. We are entering a new era, in which a series of innovations that leverage the internet could have a major impact on trade costs and international trade. The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing and Blockchain have the potential to profoundly transform the way we trade, who trades and what is traded.

Understanding how these technologies may impact world trade is essential to help maximize the gains.

While technological advances are an essential enabler of international trade expansion, the capacity to manage the changes at play is equally important. Appreciating the depth and breadth of these changes is critical to help governments reap the benefits that these technologies create and address the challenges that may arise…


Copyright © 2018 World Trade Organization

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