UAE and WEF team up to boost Trade Tech Initiative

Move aims to boost digitisation of international supply chains

Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohamed Al Shorafa, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Klaus Schwab, WEF’s founder and executive chairman, and Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, during the signing of the agreement. Photo: UAE government
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The UAE government has joined forces with the World Economic Forum to support the Emirates’ new Trade Tech Initiative.

The move aims to boost the digitisation of international supply chains, enhance customs procedures, improve developing countries’ access to the global trading system and spur a new era of trade growth, the UAE government said on Thursday.

The agreement, which was signed during the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, will support the UAE’s efforts to deliver the initiative’s four key components.

These include a global forum to gather industry and technology leaders to share best-practice, an annual research report into the trade tech landscape, a regulatory sandbox to enable companies to experiment with trade-tech innovations and an incubator for promising start-ups in the trade tech space.

The Trade Tech Initiative is a crucial step in modernising global trade, using the tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to reduce the cumbersome and inefficient paper-based processes that continue to dominate supply chains, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.

“At a time when global supply chains are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, we believe it is essential to harness the benefits of advanced technology to catalyse global trade,” he said.

“From using artificial intelligence to automate customs processes and warehouse management to deploying blockchain to revolutionise trade finance, cross-border payments, and know-your-customer procedures, the potential for enhancement is limitless.”

The UAE economy made a strong rebound from the coronavirus-induced slowdown and the pace of economic momentum has continued to improve on the back of government initiatives and higher oil prices.

The Arab world’s second-largest economy is set to grow more than 6 per cent in 2022, after expanding of 3.8 per cent in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The UAE economy is projected to grow by 7.6 per cent in 2022, the highest in 11 years, driven by both oil and non-oil sectors, according to the December estimates by the UAE Central Bank. The latest growth forecast is higher than the 5.4 per cent estimate made by the Central Bank in July.

“In 2024, the UAE will host MC13, the leading decision-making body of the World Trade Organisation, and we are determined to build consensus over the next 12 months to begin pioneering a new era of fully digitised, operationally efficient global trade,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

The WEF annual meeting is taking place under the theme “co-operation in a fragmented world” and brought together more than 2,700 government and business leaders to engage in dialogues and help find solutions through public-private co-operation.

“We believe the UAE’s new Trade Tech Initiative further strengthens our efforts to enable traders to export and import seamlessly by accelerating the digitisation of supply chains and enhancing customs procedures,” Mohamed Al Shorafa, chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said.

Updated: January 19, 2023, 4:40 PM
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