At Davos, the UAE government signed an MOU with WEF (World Economic Forum) to support UAE’s new Blockchain and AI enabled Trade Tech initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the digitization of international supply chains, enhance customs procedures, and improve developing countries’ access to the global trading system and, as a result, spur a new era of trade growth.

From the UAE’s side, the MoU was jointly signed by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), and Prof. Klaus Schwab, WEF Founder and President.

The agreement will support the UAE’s efforts to deliver the initiative’s four key components: a global forum to gather trade, industry and technology leaders to share best-practice; an annual research report into the trade tech landscape, real-life applications and emerging trends; a regulatory sandbox to enable companies and startups to experiment with trade-tech innovations; and an incubator for promising startups in the trade tech space.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi said, “The Trade Tech Initiative is a crucial step in modernizing global trade, using the tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) to reduce the cumbersome and inefficient paper-based processes that continue to dominate supply chains. We believe it is essential to harness the benefits of advanced technology to catalyze global trade  using artificial intelligence to automate customs processes and warehouse management to deploying blockchain to revolutionize trade finance, cross-border payments, and know-your-customer procedures, the potential for enhancement is limitless.”

He added, “International buy-in and regulatory frameworks are essential for these ideas to take root and our partnership with the World Economic Forum is a vital first step in realizing the goals of the Trade Tech Initiative. In 2024, the UAE will host MC13, the leading decision-making body of the World Trade Organization, and we are determined to build consensus over the next 12 months to begin pioneering a new era of fully digitized, operationally efficient global trade.”

Al Shorafa stated, “The UAE has a strong track record in developing and deploying innovative technologies to enhance efficiencies in the trade process. A typical example is our Advanced Trade & Logistics Platform (ATLP), the one-stop-shop for all trade operations. The emirate utilizes advanced technology such as AI-powered systems to enable traders facilitate their import and export transactions. We believe The UAE’s new Trade Tech Initiative further strengthens our efforts to enable traders to export and import seamlessly by accelerating the digitization of supply chains, and enhancing customs procedures.”

Concurrently UAE’s Minister for Foreign trade H.E. Thani Al Zeyoudi stated in an interview with Bloomberg, “Crypto will play a major role in the United Arab Emirates’ global trade moving forward.

Minister Thani Al-Zeyoudi, commenting on the crypto sector, said, “Crypto will play a major role for UAE trade going forward. The most important thing is that we ensure global governance when it comes to cryptocurrencies and crypto companies.”

 Al-Zeyoudi went on to suggest that as the UAE works on its crypto regulatory regime, the focus will be on making the Gulf country a hub with crypto-friendly policies that also have sufficient protections in place. He explains, “We started attracting some of the companies to the country with the aim that we will build together the right governance and legal system needed.”