During MC13, a group of leading global institutions signed an agreement to promote a unified goal of developing a neutral, open, non-profit, and inclusive digital platform for sharing trade data. This initiative aims to dismantle existing barriers and enhance inclusivity and participation by significantly reducing the costs and time involved in cross-border trade.

The agreement, known as the Teaming Agreement, was finalised during the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the WTO in Abu Dhabi. Signatories include the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), the IOTA Foundation, TradeMark Africa, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF).

This pact draws on the success of recent trials that have cut costs and processing times in supply chains. It is driven by a collective ambition to leverage digital platforms to overcome global trade barriers through worldwide cooperation and improved sharing of open information.

The digital enhancement of the global trade system is urgently needed. Typically, a cross-border transaction necessitates 36 documents and 240 copies, involving around 30 stakeholders and complex regulatory requirements, leading to issues like document loss, data discrepancies, and fraud.

If implemented effectively, the economic impact of this agreement could be significant, potentially reducing trade transaction costs by 80%, narrowing the trade finance gap by 50%, shortening some cross-border processing times from 25 days to just one day, and boosting SME efficiency by 35%.

The agreement is particularly timely, given the current range of threats to global supply chains, including maritime attacks disrupting major trade routes like the Red Sea and Suez Canal, and drought-induced delays in the Panama Canal. 

Moreover, the potential rise of protectionist policies due to populist electoral victories this year highlights the critical need for improved information sharing and collaboration across supply chains.

Central to this new agreement is the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP), a public global trade infrastructure developed by TradeMark Africa in collaboration with the IOTA Foundation, with prior implementations in Kenya and the United Kingdom.

The TLIP utilises open-source technology to facilitate information exchange in international trade, fostering inclusivity and transparency throughout the supply chain, thus enabling all participants to share and access information while maintaining control over their data.

TLIP encourages collaboration in creating and managing an interoperable digital ecosystem for quality data exchange across international supply chains, using Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) within an open-source and non-profit framework.

It also supports the development and enhancement of the TLIP infrastructure, drawing on experiences from its application in Kenya and the UK, towards a public utility infrastructure.

The inclusive nature of TLIP allows governments, development agencies, and private sector entities to introduce new applications to the ecosystem and shape its evolution.

TLIP’s efficacy has already been demonstrated, such as in the seamless data sharing for the supply chain of flowers from Kenya to the Netherlands, which eliminated the need for paper-based documentation and enhanced document integrity and trust along the supply chain.

Furthermore, TLIP was selected for the UK government’s Ecosystem of Trust trials, part of the 2025 UK Border Strategy. These trials, conducted in 2021 and 2022, highlighted TLIP’s potential to optimise time, cost, and decision-making processes for border agencies.

The signatories of this MC13 agreement are committed to leveraging the pipeline to achieve their vision for a digitally empowered global trade ecosystem.

Commenting on the MC13 agreement, Marco Forgione, Director General at The Institute of Export and International Trade, said, “We are proud to champion the creation of a neutral, inclusive digital infrastructure for trade. This partnership between key international trade organizations pools together a perfect mix of specialism, knowledge and the right balance of tech and trade experts to streamline supply chains and customs procedures. 

With the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP) framework, we expect promising outcomes, including up to 80% cost reduction, processing times cut to one day, and a 35% increase in SME efficiency. Through collaboration, we are committed to shaping a future where trade facilitation benefits societies worldwide, through the creation of a more equitable and sustainable global trade ecosystem and infrastructure.”

Frank Matsaert, Global Lead – Trade & Infrastructure, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, said, “Re-imaging trade in the information age is imperative in making global trade work for all.  Innovating a public global digital infrastructure for trade that is inclusive and green, that this partnership aims to achieve, resonates with TBI’s core goal of reimagining how governments and states deliver services in the 21st Century”. 

Tim Stekkinger, Head, TradeTech Global Initiative at the World Economic Forum said, “Exchanging information along the trade supply chain remains a real challenge. Trust and structured collaboration will be key to scaling systems and approaches that work across many countries.”

Dominik Schiener, Chairman of the Board of Directors & Co-Founder of the IOTA Foundation, added, “The signing of the Teaming Agreement is this coalition’s promise to be a responsive institute focused on the needs of every stakeholder in the supply chain. We are ready to transform international e-commerce, but we need all public and private entities in the global trade space to help us craft the policies and frameworks of the future.”

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