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Customs holding back blockchain trade digitalization: WTO report

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has said customs processes continue to be a barrier to greater trade digitization on the blockchain.

In its latest taxonomy of DLT projects in international trade, which sets out a “periodic table” of ongoing projects in the industry, the WTO said customs was currently the “weak link” preventing more widespread implementations of blockchain tech.

The report found the average maturity of the blockchain projects listed was 3.3 out of 5, up from 2.3 out of 5 back in December 2019. According to the WTO report, this means the average project is now “between the early stages of production and being live and running.”

The WTO report, published in conjunction with Trade Finance Global, highlights two main benefits of blockchain technology in international trade. The first is enhanced transparency throughout supply chains, building consumer trust and allowing greater tracking from origin to market.

The second major benefit identified in the report is improved processes, by streamlining data management and improving data security.

However, the report found customs processes were still having a lag effect on the development of DLT projects in the industry.

“Any digital process will only be as strong as its least digitized link. For many international trade systems this means integrating customs. While several governments are testing or considering using DLT for their customs operations and single windows, most projects remain at a conceptual or piloting stage.”

Noting that there had been progress since the past year, the WTO said the industry needs to move more quickly to fully benefit from blockchain.

“While these are significant positive developments, it is not enough. If the industry wishes to continue extending the limits in terms of trade digitalization, they need to begin to see more movement along this front.”

See also: Dr. Craig Wright keynote at CoinGeek Live, From the Internet to Bitcoin: The Digital Ledger to Advance the World’s Technology Infrastructure

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