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Blockchain and DLT in Trade

Where Do We Stand?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalization in all sectors, including international trade, which remains hindered by inefficient paper-intensive processes. Of particular interest for trade digitalization are projects leveraging distributed ledger technology (DLT) – commonly referred to as Blockchain. The tamper-proof and decentralized nature of DLT makes it useful for breaking the silos that constrain international trade. Many projects that were at an exploratory stage when the first “Blockchain and DLT in Trade” publication was launched in November 2019 have matured and reached the production stage. This publication looks at the current situation. The publication updates the original “periodic table” of DLT projects in trade launched in November 2019 by the International Chamber of Commerce, the WTO and Trade Finance Global, a trade finance platform, at the WTO Global Trade and Blockchain Forum. The periodic table provides a means of differentiating between the countless initiatives, projects, consortia and companies operating in the broad space that can be described by “DLT in trade”. While no simplified diagram of the landscape can encapsulate the minutiae of each project, the table provides a starting point for understanding and analyzing the industry. This publication maps 44 projects related to trade finance, insurance, know your customer, shipping/logistics and supply chain, digitalization of trade documents and trade processes as well as other projects, such as marketplaces, and assesses their level of maturity. A new section on standardization initiatives provides an overview of projects that work towards creating digital standards relevant for trade to drive digital interoperability. The report also showcases the results of a supplementary survey analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the projects featured.

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Introduction

No doubt, the world looks a little different today than it did at the end of 2019 when we first published the Periodic Table of DLT in Trade. A natural year’s worth of progression has been both accelerated and in some areas stunted by the forces of the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread and long-lasting implications of which still remain unknown.

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