The time is now to digitise our economies

September 08, 2020

The digital transformation of the global economy has been underway for some time, but Covid-19 has created an opportunity to accelerate the process in a way that ensures no one gets left behind, and that every economy feels the benefits. It is a solution to many of the problems we are all facing.

The future is a better-connected and paperless economy, complete with more efficient clearance processes, cheaper and more accessible finance, technology platforms that interface, and track-and-trace systems that promote more trust in the goods and services we buy and sell. Much of this already exists, but is still fragmented.

We know that digitised businesses and economies are more resilient, more efficient and more inclusive, but we also know that our laws are largely out of date when it comes to data, finance and business-to-business interaction. We also know that key policy frameworks – like data protection, cybersecurity and competition – need strengthening, or in some cases, establishing. Internet connectivity remains a real issue and data is still too expensive for many. These challenges are particularly acute in the emerging markets, but are also not entirely unfamiliar to those operating in the more developed economies.

The private sector is responding with a plethora of innovative solutions and initiatives. It’s one of the most dynamic and exciting times in terms of growth in the technology sector, but without interoperable standards, initiatives will remain disconnected and fragmented.

Technology and innovation are not the barriers to digital growth. Our focus needs to be on improving the digital environment by removing legal barriers, enabling digital activity to flow seamlessly across borders at scale, and creating a global standards framework to enable technologies and systems to engage with one another. More needs to be done to help companies digitise processes and adopt new technologies, in particular small- and medium-sized enterprises.

There are some game-changing developments in the pipeline; major legal reforms in 2021 to upgrade English law, and the ICC Digital Standards Initiative launching from Singapore this year, to name but a few. However, we are also in the midst of a technology war between China and the US, which forces any countries caught in the cross-fire make binary choices on which companies and technologies they work with. It’s a lose-lose situation that will impact the poorest countries the worst, and lead to outcomes that none of us want.

Digitisation is key to the Covid-19 recovery, transforming global trade and promoting a more inclusive trading system. To learn more and participate in the conversation, register today for ICC United Kingdom’s virtual International Trade & Prosperity Week, 19th – 23rd October 2020. Further details:

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