Digital Trade Technology and Policy - Barriers and Opportunities: A Scoping Report for a Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation

Michael Short, Kate Baucherel, Farzad Rahimian, Sina Joneidy, Nana Akua Adu-Amankwa, Behzad Parniani, Andrew Roughan, Arutyun Arutyunyan

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The United Kingdom (UK) currently stands in a unique position to determine its own path through a world disrupted by digitalisation and recovering from a global pandemic. It has made firm commitments to regulatory reform, to strengthen science, technology, and innovation, and to align these commitments with the goals of industry and society. This approach has worked to good effect in the UK’s agile, science-led response to COVID-19.

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, for infrastructure upgrades, and to level up the economy. The government, however, has yet to set a clear agenda and roadmap for maximising technology innovation to achieve its high-level digital trade vision. This report presents the results of an initial scoping study to begin to address this issue, investigating barriers and opportunities related to the use of digital technology and innovation in support of trade and border activities.

The report is split into seven sections, exploring digital trade from the UK policy context, analysing the state-of-the-art in digital trade technologies, setting out the international context, and summarising stakeholder consultations. The report also provides an initial short-term roadmap to help unlock and maximise the potential of the UK’s digital trade activities through focused, co-ordinated actions. Proposed actions include the development of an inclusive ecosystem to facilitate stakeholder communication and co-ordination, harmonisation of standards, and the creation of an innovation environment to catalyse public-private partnerships and drive forward promising use cases for pilot trade technology deployments. The report also presents an initial supporting case for a Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI) to provide a physical presence and focus for these activities.

The principal and leading role for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in digital trade and border policy, and in actioning this roadmap, is made evident. The roadmap, if put in place, can begin to steer UK digital trade policy and practice along the correct trajectory to achieving the UK’s ambitious border goals as part of a wider, ongoing strategic consultation.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTeesside University
Commissioning bodyHer Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
Number of pages81
ISBN (Electronic)9780992716141
ISBN (Print)9780992716141
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022


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