G7 Countries Must Follow UK Lead on Digital Trade and "Put a Rocket" under COVID Recovery

October 20, 2021

G7 Countries Must Follow UK Lead on Digital Trade and


  • New research shows digitalisation could cut transaction costs of G7 trade by 76%, and deliver $9 trillion in growth by 2026
  • Shift to digital would drive SME growth, improve competitiveness and put a rocket under Covid recovery
  • UK Government is leading by example – other G7 nations must now up their game to realise clear economic opportunity.

London, 20 October 2021 A shift to digital trade documents could reduce the transaction costs of G7 trade by up to 76% by cutting bureaucracy and processing times and cut the time it takes to complete a cross-border deal by up to 81%. According to new research from International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), digitalising trade would drive SME growth and put a rocket under the economic recovery from Covid.

Currently, international trade relies on billions of paper documents and antiquated laws which date back to the sixteenth century. An ordinary trade transaction involves up to 27 documents, can take three months and can cost businesses up to £80,000 – creating an administrative nightmare and keeping costs unsustainably high for SMEs.

Earlier this year the UK recognised the role that digital trade could play in driving the economic recovery and ending this nightmare for businesses – announcing plans for legal reforms to digitise trade documents that will deliver £25bn in SME growth. G7 countries have backed the vision for making trade digital – but it is now urgent to accelerate reform, modernise the digital trade ecosystem and put a rocket under recovery. .

ICC is now calling on the rest of the G7, G20 and other large economies to take the lead and follow Britain’s example to undertake the reforms necessary to create the enabling legal environment SMEs need to scale up digital trade across the world. Doing so will help to drive and maintain the economic recovery from Covid – cutting costs for small businesses by 80%, slashing needless bureaucracy, and substantially increasing the flow of international trade by $9 trillion on 2019 values by 2026.

ICC United Kingdom Secretary General Chris Southworth said:  

“The UK government has shown great leadership during its G7 Presidency in acting to reform laws and digitalise trade – empowering British businesses and making it easier for them to trade globally.

The G7 countries must now lead the global change following the UK example and work with countries in Asia that have also begun to modernise the global digital trade ecosystem  

Make no mistake, digitalisation is central to driving the economic growth following the Covid crisis – without it the recovery will be hampered. It is the single biggest opportunity to transform world trade, dwarfing the benefits of trade agreements. We have the opportunity to cut trade transaction times from weeks and months to hours and days and with it bring international merchandise trade into the Digital Era.”


G7 - Creating Modern Digital Trade Ecosystem

Germany - Creating Modern Digital Trade Ecosystem

United Kingdom - Creating Modern Digital Trade Ecosystem


Editor’s Notes

ICC is the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries.

ICC United Kingdom is the representative office of ICC in the UK and voice for UK business at international level.

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