In a recent X post by HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, he noted that the UAE government will be accelerating the adoption of technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Blockchain into the global trading system.

The Initiative called Regulation 5.0 for the Future of TradeTech and the Trade-Sustain-AI Initiative will identify key trends in trade technology and provide a blueprint for a harmonized global regulatory system to oversee their deployment.

According to Al Zeyoudi this is especially important for developing countries to avoid widening the technology gap.

Al Zeyoudi stated on X platform, “At the inaugural TradeTech Global Forum today, we launched two important initiatives that will accelerate the adoption of technologies like AI and Blockchain into the global trading system: Regulation 5.0 for the Future of TradeTech and the Trade-Sustain-AI Initiative.

He added, “Our Trade-Sustain-AI initiative will create global partnerships to oversee the development of AI-powered trade solutions that will advance sustainable practices throughout supply chains – and help promote a smarter, cleaner trading system.

The comments were made during the Abu Dhabi World Trade Organization Conference being held in Abu Dhabi between Feb 26th and 29th. The conference had metioned that decentralization of global supply chains would be on the table for the first time.

The conference witnessed that attendance of 165 nations and trading blocs. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted in an interview with WAM, “We will initiate new dialogues, called deliberative sessions, where, for the first time, the ministers will engage on issues crucial to the contemporary world, including trade and environment, trade and climate change, trade and sustainability, and trade and inclusion.”

She advocated the decentralization of supply chains, expanding them to developing countries.

Moreover during the conference, Blockchain Foundation, IOTA announced its partnership with the World Economic Forum, Trademark Africa, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the Institute of Export and International Trade, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

As per their press release, “Together, we are embarking on a transformative journey to revolutionize international trade through the creation of the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP). International trade has long been burdened by inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and lack of transparency. The cumbersome process of trading goods across borders involving numerous documents, multiple actors, and intricate regulations often leads to delays, errors, and even fraudulent activities. Recognizing the urgent need for a reliable and transparent digital trade infrastructure, our coalition is committed to fostering a neutral governance framework for TLIP.”

TLIP aims to streamline information exchange and promote collaboration across borders. It builds on IOTA’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) to provide data immutability and security. It performs the same function as a government stamp on a trade certificate to prove authenticity – just made digital.

Customs in destination markets will not need a stamped physical Certificate of Origin when using TLIP. However, while physical documents are subject to fraudulent risks, the TLIP system ensures transparency and immutability of the relevant details of uploaded documents.

TLIP ensures that a digital certificate is authentic and prevents it from being tampered with. IOTA also provides distributed controls, so each trade actor can manage their data and give access permission without outsourcing the permission controls to a centralized entity enabling a digital-based collaboration much like how the free market of trade works manually today.

Furthermore, using IOTA’s DLT enables parties to interact securely online without requiring a centralized platform that stores all information and is vulnerable to hacking or manipulation.

As promised the Abu Dhabi Customs, during Gitex 2023 launched its expanded version of Invisible Customs System blockchain enabled Trade Chain as well as a cooperation agreement with Blockchain entity CargoX a blockchain platform in the logistics industry.  This advanced platform integrates with global blockchain platforms specialized in trade, providing benefits like improving customs operations performance, enhancing the reliability of information sources, and processing information proactively and quickly through a safe and secure platform.

The platform enhances the capability to monitor shipments, as well as the shipping and clearance procedures. It can also predict delivery times, contributing to reduced effort and costs associated with customs clearance. Furthermore, it facilitates seamless communication with trade partners and enhances supply chain security.

The platform also enhances the speed of data exchange with connected entities and guarantees the confidentiality of data shared with customs authorities and other entities using the platform. This results in a reduction of up to 80 percent in the time and effort required for goods clearance.

Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori, Director General of Abu Dhabi Customs, said that the launch of the advanced customs platform “Trade Chain” comes within the framework of Abu Dhabi Customs’ ongoing efforts to facilitate trade, bolster security and safeguard society, by adopting advanced technologies to enhance its customs system and consolidate its pioneering position, in line with the directives of the wise leadership, and the economic visions for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, through continuous foresight for the future and keeping pace with innovation in trade facilitation and the opportunities that the Fourth Industrial Revolution technology brings to increase efficiency and effectiveness and save time, effort and cost within all customs transactions, especially through establishing coordinated, effective, integrated and digital border management systems, ensuring invisible customs and governed borders that are both open and secure.

Abu Dhabi Customs, represented by Fahad Ghareeb Al Shamsi, Executive Director of Support Services Sector, also signed an agreement with CargoX on the sidelines of the Trade Chain platform launch at GITEX, represented by Vjeran Ortynski, VP of Business Development.” regarding data transfer via the blockchain platform.

The cooperation agreement aims to establish a framework for implementing blockchain projects and enhancing relations between the two parties to provide better services to Abu Dhabi Customs clients and clear shipments before arrival, as well as exchange expertise and information and meet business requirements and optimal use of the capabilities and expertise of both parties in areas of mutual interest.

Areas of cooperation include benefiting from the use of the Advance Cargo Information System, providing a blockchain data transfer solution to be presented to importers and exporters of goods through maritime ports in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to facilitate the flow of maritime imports and exports.

According to a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, the global market value of blockchain technology in the customs field is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2025, saving up to $200 billion annually in global customs costs.

This is not the first agreement for CargoX in the region. In 2021, The Egyptian government through its Egyptian Customs Authorities, made mandatory Advance Cargo Information (ACI) declarations under its new Egyptian Customs law #207 for all cargo inbound to Egypt. The process is currently managed through the Blockchain enabled National Single Window for Foreign Trade platform (NAFEZA), built by Misr Technology Systems (MTS), where Blockchain enabled platform CargoX was authorized as the blockchain e-documents transfer gateway services provider.

The CargoX Blockchain platform helped the Egyptian government shorten cargo release times from 29 days to under 9 days, reduce import compliance cost from more than 600 USD to under 165 USD, and improve efficiency in cargo import risk assessment, tax revenue collection, and overall cargo flow transparency.

In August 2023, Uganda’s Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Technology Associates & CargoX consortium (TA-CargoX). The MoU aims to establish TradeXchange, a national trade facilitation platform. PACEID’s objective with this strategic technology partnership is to support exporters, resolve trade bottlenecks, easily comply with global trade standards and buttress Uganda’s ambitious goal of doubling its exports by 2026.

The CargoX Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) is used by more than 115,000 companies worldwide, and has processed more than 5,3+ million electronic trade documents to date, without noticeable downtimes or operation failures.

UAE based Emirates NBD has inveted in Blockchain enabled Komgo, trade finance platform.

As per the press release, the strategic equity investment was made by Emirates NBD’s Innovation Fund, the Bank’s corporate venture fund.  The fund created in early 2023, aims to strengthen synergies from strategic partnerships by combining the Bank’s digital ambitions and regional expertise with the agility and technological innovations of fintech companies.

Emirates NBD’s corporate venture capital arm will enable the Group to make investments in tech start-ups and companies that further support its digital strategy. The Innovation Fund’s mandate is to invest in a wide range of stages, from early to growth, depending on the strategic fit for the Group, with the aim of delivering strategic benefits and realising a long-term return from investments.

Komgo’s solutions empower Treasury, Credit, and Trade Finance operations, streamlining communications and strengthening operational capacity for more than 10,000 enterprise users worldwide. From its Swiss roots, the company has expanded to key international locations including Singapore, Paris, London, Toronto and Houston, and is trusted by a diverse customer base that includes more than 200 multinational corporations and global trade banks. Approximately USD 1 billion in transaction value flows through the Komgo Network each day.

Komgo has two main products, Trakk which logs documents, creating a digital fingerprint on its blockchain, and  Konsole that matches corporates with banks and offers several solutions including various digital letters of credit and guarantees.

Ahmed Al Qassim, Group Head of Wholesale Banking, Emirates NBD, said: “Our strategic equity investment in Komgo reflects our commitment to constantly innovate and develop tech solutions that can accelerate business processes. We recognise how the fast-changing fintech landscape impacts our industry and we will continue to find and support the next generation of technologies that will help us shape the future of finance and to further strengthen our position as one of the leading financial institutions in the region.”

Souleïma Baddi, CEO at Komgo commented, “We are delighted that Emirates NBD has taken a strategic equity stake in Komgo, becoming the first Middle Eastern bank to hold shares in the company. This marks a significant milestone and a powerful affirmation of Komgo’s solid track record and promising future.”

Souleïma Baddi  CEO at Komgo used to sit on the board of VAKT which also utilizes blockchain to enhanve trade finance.

Prior to this Emirates Bank was one of the founding banks for UAE’s Blockchain fraud detection platform UAE Trade Connect.

UAE Trade Connect is now seeking to its expand its membership based out of the UAE Banking sector to other GCC countries including KSA.

CargoX, the provider of the fastest-growing electronic trade document platform, and CEBS Worldwide, a global integrator of business solutions and a former TradeLens integrator, launched a partnership to help corporations continue the digitalization of their bills of lading and trade document workflows even those in the MENA region. 

Businesses that started using TradeLens for their eB/L have been scrambling to migrate their electronic trade document processing to a new platform since TradeLens unexpectedly announced the end of its service in December 2022. 

While TradeLens was able to onboard global carriers — CMA CGM, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co., Hapag-Lloyd, Ocean Network Express and Zim Integrated Shipping Services — it announced in November 2022 it would shutter due to a lack of a path toward profitability. TradeLens was also piloting projects in Oman and KSA. 

Saudi Customs, in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the General Authority of Ports, and Maersk International Company, one of the founders of Tradelens had announced in 2019 the successful Blockchain pilot and the importance of blockchain technology in the shipping industry.

In addition Oman’s Port of Salalah  took the first step and is collaborating with Oman Customs and TradeLens built on IBM Hyperledger Fabric Platform for shipping and logistics industry. 

The new partnership provides existing customers of the discontinued TradeLens platform with a proven, reliable and powerful alternative for creating, transferring, and processing electronic bills of lading and trade documents. CEBS and CargoX will provide former TradeLens users with a frictionless transition of their workflows on the TradeLens platform by integrating the platform features through CEBS’s framework interfaces.

CEBS will start migrating current TradeLens customers to their Supply Chain Finance platform and the CargoX Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) Platform for electronic trade document exchange. This is accomplished by using CEBS’s middleware cloud and on-premise platform to help organizations effortlessly leverage different public blockchains in their enterprise applications, saving time and money.

This way, companies can become future-proof and fully blockchain platform agnostic. Companies can keep their everyday workflows and introduce CargoX’s optimized, tightly integrated blockchain document transfer features into their existing processes. 

Satish Swaroop, CEO of CEBS Worldwide said: “We are committed to digitalizing the supply chain network for all trading partners and ensuring all transactions and documents exchanged are secure, traceable, and immutable. We have good partnerships and teams working with the public and private sector to shape the future and usher in a new era of global trade that is both frictionless and compliant.” 

Stefan Kukman, CEO of CargoX said: “We are incredibly proud to welcome CEBS as our new partner. They are a true innovator in the market, binding together diverse solutions and platforms to build customer value. The digitalization of trade documentation is in full swing worldwide, and companies need all the support and advice they can get to implement the optimum solutions into their everyday workflows. “We see demand rising daily, and more than 104,000 companies registered on our platform prove that the CargoX Platform is becoming a standard item in the toolboxes of modern supply chain participants.” 

CargoX in 2022 announced that Egypt had extended its agreement with Blockchain CargoX to include air cargo in its efforts to accelerate digital transformation of Egypt’s trade flows with the world. At the time the NAFEZA CargoX blockchain document transfer gateway had seamlessly and safely transferred more than 1,100,000 actual trade and finance documents for more than 75,000 customers.

The public-private partnership Misr Technology Services (MTS),80% owned by the Egyptian government, authorized CargoX as its blockchain document transfer gateway service provider for the country’s official NAFEZA single-window trade platform in March 2021.