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Trading forward: Adapting to a changing world

By Suren Thiru - Head of Economics and Trade

Chambers of Commerce are proud of the frontline role that we play in facilitating international trade.

In 2018 alone, we worked with over 30,000 international traders, issued over 670,000 trade documents and helped £20 billion of goods into more than 190 markets worldwide.

To ensure that we remain at the forefront of the international trade debate, representatives attended the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 2019 public forum in Geneva last week.

Attracting more than 1000 representatives from around the world, the public forum provides a platform to discuss the latest developments in world trade and propose ways of enhancing the global trading system.

Looking beyond the Brexit bubble, the global trading landscape is developing rapidly, amid changes in technology, production methods, employment patterns, demographics and environmental concerns.

Technology, in particular, has been a major driver of economic advances through more efficient and cost-effective production processes, making services more tradeable.

With services a key driver of UK economic output and representing a significant and growing portion of the global economy, there was a keen focus at the forum on how countries can leverage this sector as an opportunity to increase their participation in international trade.

The role that the WTO plays in global trade – particularly, in responding to a world that continues to evolve at a rapid pace – was also scrutinised.

BCC representatives took part in a wide range of working sessions, looking to answer key questions from how to engage MSMEs in digital services trade to how can trade policy further enhance and promote the relationship between services and manufacturing.

The BCC also participated as a panellist on the working session “Data as a key commodity in trade” which sought to identify areas of trade in goods and services where data flows could be improved and the impact this could have.

At the end of a busy, but successful few days in Geneva, the team returned back to the UK, having helped ensure that the BCC and the wider Chamber Network remain a key voice on international trade.

To read more about the BCC’s policy work on international trade, please visit: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/trade

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