ICC Brasil and UNCTAD sign deal to harnesss technology in international trade

16 April 2018

The partnership marks the second phase of the Intelligent Tech and Trade Initiative.

The Brazilian arm of the International Chamber of Commerce and UNCTAD have signed an agreement to work together to harness the power of cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to enhance and improve trade.

The memorandum of understanding between ICC Brasil and UNCTAD formalises their cooperation within the Intelligent Tech and Trade Initiative (ITTI). Deploying fast-emerging technology in the trade sector is a headline issue at UNCTAD's E-Commerce Week, which runs from 16-20 April, and the issue was the focus of a session on Intelligent Tech and Trade Tools: from Trade Logistics to a WTO E-Commerce Agreement, which included speakers from ICC Brasil, UNCTAD, Huawei, B2W, WEF and the government of Costa Rica.

“The joint session between ITTI and UNCTAD confirms our shared vision of making the best use of the latest technologies, such as AI and blockchain,” said Shamika N Sirimanne, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Technology and Logistics.

Mou with ICC Brazil

Shamika Sirimanne of UNCTAD and Gabriel Petrus of ICC Brasil

Under the agreement, UNCTAD and ICC Brasil will cooperate in a range of capacity-building, training, research and analysis activities. “Specific issues include the application of artificial intelligence and blockchain on international trade operations, trade logistics, transactions and negotiations,” Ms. Sirimanne explained.

ITTI was founded by ICC Brasil’s chairman, Daniel Feffer, last year. "Creating ITTI is an essential move that can drive trade beyond existing roadblocks. I’m certain blockchain and AI will boost trade growth. These technologies can help both small and medium-sized enterprises and emerging markets seize a bigger piece of the global trade pie,” Mr. Feffer said.

“Deintermediation, trust and agile market access are made possible by these new technologies. My vision is that very instrumental tools, such as bringing the Letter of Credit to a 21st Century blockchain-intensive marketplace, or modeling negotiation scenarios through AI, will enhance both transactions and trade agreements. But we’ve got to make sure they are inclusive of companies big and small, countries rich or emerging, so all can benefit from their extraordinary potential,” he added.

ITTI is now entering its second phase after publishing a study looking at the applicability of technology in various scenarios. The collaboration with UNCTAD will explore the use of AI and blockchain in multilateral negotiations. UNCTAD’s expertise and database will be essential in helping the initiative build a prototype that could be used these complex negotiations. ITTI is also building, in a partnership with IBM, a prototype that will look into bilateral negotiations. As a first case, the prototype will use negotiations between the Mercosul trade bloc and Canada.

“This software will choose the best products the countries can offer their trade partners, indicating the optimal tariffs. It is like a radar that pinpoints the best opportunities for each side. We are very excited to see the implementation of both of these prototypes”, says Gabriel Petrus, Executive Director of ICC Brasil.

In its fourth edition this year, UNCTAD's E-Commerce Week is the leading global forum to discuss the development opportunities and challenges associated with the evolving digital economy.