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The WTO report on blockchain technology shows that customs remain the “weak link” in the digitization of trade

November 5, 2020

The World Trade Organization and Trade Finance Global have published their latest taxonomy of blockchain projects in international trade, organized in what they present as the “Periodic Table” for industry.

The original version of the periodic table was published in winter 2019. Since then, many things have changed: despite the pandemic, various indicators used in the table show this Blockchain business innovation projects around the world are getting more mature.

On a scale from one to five The project duration was rated at an average of 2.3 in December 2019. As of this month, the same number is 3.3. To translate it into non-numeric terms, these projects are now “between the first stages of production and in operation”according to the WTO and the TFG.

The WTO report on blockchain technology shows that customs remain the “weak link” in the digitization of trade
The WTO report on blockchain technology shows that customs remain the “weak link” in the digitization of trade

According to the report, Blockchain, also known as Distributed Ledger Technology or DLT, has two main advantages from an international trade perspective. First, improves transparencyThis supports what analysts also refer to as the “track and trace” function, which is helpful to ensure the authenticity of products and thus improve customer confidence.

The other benefit of DLT is the digitization of retail– Optimize business documentation, processes and secure data exchange and monitoring. Here, The report identifies what it believes is still the “weakest link” in the chain:

“Any digital process will only be as strong as its least digitized connection. For many international trading systems this means the integration of customs. Although several governments are testing or considering using DLT for their customs operations and one-stop shops, most projects are still in a conceptual or pilot phase. “

Latin America is a pioneer in customs. The report positively cites the development of A DLT project called “Cadena” by ICT specialists from Mexico, Peru, Chile and Costa Rica in cooperation with Microsoft and the IDB. Cadena is aimed at customs authorities and supports mutual recognition agreements between those who define themselves as “authorized economic operators” within a framework established by the World Customs Organization.

In other places The NAFTA / TLC Office for Customs and Border Protection is making progress on proof-of-concept and pilot customs conceptsjust like him Shanghai “one-stop shop” project, the Korea Export Clearance Projectand the European Proof of Concept from DG Taxud ATA carnet of the Union.

Apart from this, The DLT-based TradeLens project has increasingly integrated the customs authoritiesand a project to digitize the commercial DLT documentation from Avanza innovations It has been integrated into Dubai Customs. However, The report provides simple information on the limitations of optimizing blockchain trading::

“While these are important positive developments, they are not enough. If the industry wants to push the boundaries of corporate digitization further, it has to see more movement on this front. “