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The Future of Trade and Export Forum

The Telegraph’s Future of Trade and Export Forum took place on 26th June in London and focused on facilitating discussion around three core pillars:

 

Delegates heard from expert speakers including the likes of:

Other speakers included: Mats Persson, Head of International Trade, Economics and Policy Unit at EY UK&I; Marcus Dolman, Co-Chairman of BExA; Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors; Matthew Houlihan, Director, Government and Corporate Affairs at Cisco; Wilson Del Socorro, Global Director of Government Affairs, Diageo, amongst many others.

Linklaters' own Dr Lorand Bartels, Senior Trade Counsel, also took the stage for two sessions, the first discussing new customs regimes alongside Chris Southworth, Secretary General of the ICC and Lesley Batchelor OBE, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade. This session focused on the current transformation of customs procedures, what the new frameworks will look like and what impact they will have on businesses.

Later in the day Lorand also chaired a panel discussing New Horizons: Where to trade and what you need. Accompanied by Matthew Houlihan, Director, Government and Corporate Affairs at Cisco; David Henig, Director UK Trade Policy Project, ECIPE; and Aaron Rosland, Counsellor for the Ontario Government, the panel explored the current global trade policy landscape as well as future trade opportunities, discussing how both Government support and future technology will open up new opportunities for business both in established and new markets.

 

“Discussing future trade opportunities, as well as business concerns, on a practical, legal and policy level with stakeholders from across the industry has been invaluable in connecting the dots between regulatory change, including in international trade agreements, and the day-to-day impact that has on businesses trading globally.”

Lorand Bartels Senior Trade Counsel

Linklaters, London

Top things we heard at the conference

  • Trade in digital services. The steep rise in adoption of digital technologies has arguably outpaced the rules and regulations that facilitate trade in digital goods and services. In our panel on New Horizons, Linklaters’ Senior Trade Counsel Lorand Bartels noted “New technologies such as 3D printing are disruptive of our very thinking on the way that trade in goods and services is regulated by international trade agreements”. It is undeniable that the regulatory and legal frameworks governing trade in services need to be modernised to enable greater technological innovation across the world.
  • Local and sustainable. Consumers are focused on the environment and sustainability more than ever before and that’s driving real change across both the value and supply chain. The “Attenborough effect” has engaged consumers who are ditching single-use plastic and buying locally, whilst simultaneously we have seen the introduction of automotive emission levy’s in cities across the world. Businesses must adapt to changing consumer drivers quickly and effectively, and at the same time industries such as shipping and aviation must be ready for the environmental regulatory changes coming their way.
  • Beyond the border barriers to trade. The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP emphasised the growing threat of protectionism, noting that the last 8 years has seen an additional 900 non-tariff barriers to trade being enforced by the G7 and G20 countries, rising from 300 in 2010 to 1200 in 2018. Licensing, data localisation and foreign direct investment barriers were discussed by speakers throughout the day. Businesses must be aware of, and prepared for, the increasing barriers at play as they explore trading in new markets.
  • Optimising trade through technology. Blockchain, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and digital platforms were hot topics as discussions on import and export processes focused on how technology could improve efficiencies. What has long been a paper-based industry could be transformed by investments into digital borders and blockchain payments, providing greater transparency for all parties. Innovation, investment and governance will be central in putting these technological changes into motion and this will have to be driven by importers and exporters as well as governments themselves.