The world is in transition. Digitalization, decentralization, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) are disrupting and transforming approaches to the design and operation of industry, business, and society across the globe. This talk is concerned with UK innovation in digital trade in the context of a changing, increasingly competitive digital world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Kingdom (UK) currently stands in a unique position to determine its own path through this world and has made firm commitments to regulatory reform to strengthen science, technology, and innovation - and to align these activities with the wider goals of industry and society. The UK has recently become the first country to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and has set an ambitious goal to achieve the world’s most resilient and future-facing border by 2025. It has laid out a high-level vision for digital trade, an agenda for freeports and has made commitments to strike ambitious new free trade deals, to build and upgrade infrastructure, and to level up the economy. It has, however, yet to set a clear agenda or roadmap for maximising technology and innovation to achieve the high-level visions for digitalisation of trade and borders.
This talk outlines the main results of study investigating barriers and opportunities related to the use of digital technology and innovation in support of trade and border activities which the speaker was recently commissioned to perform by the UK government. It will explore digital trade from the UK policy context, analyse the state-of-the-art in digital trade technologies, set out the international context, and summarise key stakeholder consultations. It will also outline an initial short-term roadmap to help unlock and maximise the potential of digital trade activities through focused, co-ordinated actions which are subsequently being carried out by the UK.
These proposed actions include the development of an inclusive ecosystem to facilitate stakeholder communication and co-ordination, harmonisation of standards, deployment of technology-agnostic interoperability frameworks, and the creation of an innovation environment to catalyse public-private partnerships and drive forward promising pilot use cases.
The talk will also describe a newly formed Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI) developed to provide a physical presence and focus for these activities, which will begin to steer UK digital trade policy and practice along the correct trajectory to achieving the UK’s ambitious trade and border goals as part of a wider, ongoing strategic consultation.