techUK at the WTO: Exploring how tech changes trade

21 Sep 2018 12:56 PM

Thomas Goldsmith, Policy Manager for Brexit and Trade, looks at techUK’s panel at the World Trade Organisation’s Public Forum 2018.

This October, techUK is stepping onto the international stage with a panel at the World Trade Organisation’s Public Forum - 'Trade 2030'. Technology is at the heart of trade and new technological developments have transformed it time and time again. We are experiencing a Fourth Industrial Revolution, ushering in a new era of change in what is made, where it is made and how it is traded. The laws that govern international commerce have not yet caught up, but we are now at a pivotal moment as negotiators from across the world get together to agree new ecommerce rules. It is crucial that the voices of the UK’s world-leading tech sector are heard in that debate and that new rules reflect the opportunities that tech creates globally.

How new technology is disrupting international trade forms the basis of techUK’s first ever panel at the Public Forum: ‘The Rise of Digital: Tech and the Changing Nature of Value Added’. We are bringing together industry, diplomats and development experts to explore the benefits of new developments like 3D printing and the trade in intangibles across borders, and how global rules need to adapt to ensure that technological change is inclusive.

The panel will be chaired by Stuart Harbinson, former Chief of Staff to WTO Director-General Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi. Speaking will be Andrew Staines, UK Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative from the UK Mission in Geneva, who chaired the Information Technology Agreement Committee when it was last updated in 2015; techUK’s own Deputy CEO, Antony Walker, representing the views of the UK tech sector and the importance of a thriving digital ecosystem; Karishma Banga, Senior Research Officer at the ODI, who has written extensively on the digital economy and the future of the manufacturing-led development model; and Carlos Halasz, Customs Compliance Officer, Global Trade from HP, one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers.

Cross-border flows of data are already estimated to be worth $2.8 trillion to world GDP, and with 3D printing also poised to disrupt $2-3 trillion of global manufacturing, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is quickly and fundamentally changing world trade. As the Public Forum looks towards what trade will look like in 2030, techUK is delighted to be at the forefront of the international conversation around this new future, and with a panel that looks set to have a fascinating debate.

techUK’s panel ‘The Rise of Digital: Tech and the Changing Nature of Value Added’ will take place at the WTO in Geneva in Room B, from 15.30-17.00 on 4 October. Follow techUK’s panel and wider engagement during the Public Forum on twitter with #techUKatWTO. For more information please get in touch with Thomas Goldsmith, Policy Manager, Brexit &