Ecorys is supporting the European Parliament in developing a forward looking trade policy
International trade requires trust across a multitude of players in diverging economic, legal and social frameworks. As a result, it traditionally relies on complex, burdensome and paper-heavy processes to ensure the necessary trust for commercial transactions. Together with IDATE, Fraunhofer FOKUS and Grimaldi, Ecorys investigated how blockchain technology (i.e. distributed ledger technology) can facilitate supply chains and international trade. This study was commissioned by the European Parliament.
The research team has looked at a series of promising applications aimed at making international trade processes more efficient, transparent and digital – in fields such as ethical sourcing of goods, trade finance, tracking of shipments, cross border payments and electronic certificates of origin. Based on the potential impacts of the use of this technology in international trade, the research team has then drafted policy options for the consideration of the European Parliament.
The team presented its first results to the Members of the European Parliament of the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel in January and has now finalised the study. The report presents examples of applications of blockchain in trade, discusses the technology’s challenges and the overall barriers of digitalising trade processes, such as legal recognition, data localisation, and interoperability. Finally, it provides 20 policy options in regard to the adoption of blockchain technology in international trade including supporting customs facilitation, sustainable trade, SME involvement, leadership in standardisation, and awareness raising.