London, 10 October 2023 (TDI): Angela Ellard, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) delivered a keynote speech at the Annual WTO Conference organized by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) in London.

In her address, Ellard emphasized the profound impact of technological developments on international trade. She also outlined the evolving landscape of global commerce.

Additionally, Ellard underscored the significant growth in global services exports, reaching a record $7.2 trillion in 2022. She highlighted the transformative role of technological developments, especially in digitally delivered services, contributing to a paradigm shift in the global economy. The WTO estimates that the share of services in world trade could reach one-third by 2040.

Furthermore, technological tools such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, and customs e-declarations were discussed. This was a means to substantially reduce trade costs and enhance efficiency in the flow of goods across borders.

Ellard emphasized the importance of overcoming digital regulatory fragmentation and the WTO’s commitment to prioritizing accord with international standards.

Also read: WTO and GCA heads sign Memorandum of Understanding

Deputy Director-General Ellard added how the WTO is an advantage  technology to improve transparency, reduce trade frictions, and modernize its working practices.

Moreover, the E-Ping platform, used for submitting regulatory notifications, and the agenda platform, facilitating collaborative agenda building, were cited as examples of how the WTO is adapting to the digital era.

However, Ellard also discussed three joint initiatives to develop new disciplines on services, e-commerce, and investment facilitation. The initiatives focus on simplifying authorization processes, cutting red tape, and increasing transparency in service regulations. The E-commerce Capacity Building Framework was highlighted as a key step towards digital inclusion in trade negotiations.

Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard emphasized the role of technology in achieving climate goals, citing the importance of open trade in providing affordable access to advanced environmental technologies.

She highlighted how trade in environmental goods and services can contribute to economic development, employment, and a reduction in carbon emissions.

Ellard addressed the growing trade tensions derived from technology-related issues and notified against isolationism in global supply chains. She emphasized the need for international cooperation, diverse supply chains, and the potential consequences of global economic decoupling.

Also Read: WTO explores the role of trade to counter climate change

In her closing remarks, Angela Ellard repeated that services and digitization will shape the future of globalization. Emphasizing the WTO’s crucial role in developing and implementing rules that work for countries at every level of economic development.