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IOTA joins forces with the World Economic Forum, the Tony Blair Institute, Trademark Africa, and other partners to reimagine international trade

Together these organizations commit to advancing a global digital infrastructure for trade facilitation and a supporting governance framework that allows governments and industry to join and participate in shaping its future


ABU DHABI, February 27, 2024IOTA, the open, feeless, and highly scalable distributed ledger technology (DLT) for the digital economy, is joining forces with the World Economic Forum, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Trademark Africa, the Institute of Export and International Trade, and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation to establish a neutral governance framework for a public global trade infrastructure, known as the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP).

On February 27, at the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, these organizations will sign a Collaboration Agreement to establish an inclusive, digitally enabled trade ecosystem, addressing the pressing need for a trustworthy anchor in international commerce. The average cross-border transaction requires the exchange of 36 documents and 240 copies involving up to 30 actors and convoluted trade regulations, leading to multiple unforeseen challenges, including loss of documents, information discrepancy, and fraud.

With the new framework, the institutions will work with like-minded public and private sector actors around the world to prioritize the common good. This is key to the agreement: Transcending individual interests, it serves as a catalyst for creating a vibrant ecosystem where innovation thrives and barriers are dismantled.

“The signing of the Collaboration Agreement is this coalition's promise to focus on the needs of every stakeholder in the supply chain,” said Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder of IOTA and Chairman of the IOTA Foundation. “We are ready to transform international trade, but we need support from public and private entities in the global trade space to help us craft the policies and frameworks of the future that they can see themselves in.”

The TLIP platform was initially developed by the IOTA Foundation and TradeMark Africa, drawing from experiences implementing TLIP in Kenya and the United Kingdom. The partners in different capacities have demonstrated Proof of Concept in several use cases in Africa and Europe using the TLIP framework with positive outcomes. They will continue implementing pilots as they onboard more actors in building the required ecosystems for the future.

Leveraging open-source technology to streamline information exchange in international trade, the TLIP infrastructure fosters transparency along the supply chain: Everyone can share and consume information with a permission system to keep control of their own data. 

The open nature of TLIP enables solution builders to:

  • Collaborate in the establishment and operation of an interoperable digital ecosystem aimed at interchanging trusted data across international supply chains using DLT in an open-source environment and non-profit structure

  • Continuously improve the solution as a public utility infrastructure, building ond experiences of implementing TLIP in Kenya and the UK

  • Empower governments, development agencies, and private sector actors to introduce new applications to the ecosystem and influence its future

The economic benefit of establishing such a digital infrastructure is significant, with the potential to:

  • Cut trade transaction costs by 80%

  • Reduce the trade finance gap by 50%

  • Decrease cross-border processing times, in some cases from 25 days to one day

  • Increase SME efficiency by 35%

The partners encourage interested parties to reach out over the next six months and continue the conversation. Together, we will create a future where trade facilitation and data exchange works for the betterment of societies worldwide.

“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.” — Tim Stekkinger, Head of the TradeTech Global Initiative at the World Economic Forum

"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." — Marco Forgione, Director General of The Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT)

“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.” — Frank Matsaert, Director of Trade & Infrastructure, Kenya Team, at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

"Our collaboration with leading organizations underscores our commitment to sustainable and inclusive trade. We are proud of the development of platforms such as the Trade Logistics Information Pipeline (TLIP), through which we aim to dismantle barriers and foster innovation in global trade, empowering all stakeholders to actively participate in shaping the future of trade facilitation. … We’re achieving remarkable feats with emerging technologies, but taking this to the next level is about joining forces with these innovators and great collaborators.” — David Beer, CEO of TradeMark Africa  

"As a community, we keep promoting the pivotal role of technology in overcoming frictions to trade. Yet the reality remains that international trade continues to rely heavily on paper-based transactions. The introduction of TLIP marks a paradigm shift, utilizing distributed ledger technology within a collaborative, non-commercial framework aimed solely at easing the process of conducting trade in a secure and efficient environment. I am delighted that the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a leading player in this transformative venture.” — Philippe Isler, Director of Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation

You can find more details in the blog post here.


About IOTA Foundation

The IOTA Foundation is a global non-profit foundation that develops next-generation decentralized technologies for a new digital economy in a connected world. It redesigns the way people and devices connect to share information and value, removing middlemen. The Foundation collaborates with a global ecosystem and partners to research and develop technologies that deliver sustainable, real-world impact. Together, they are shaping a new digital economy, removing unnecessary friction and unlocking human potential.


About The World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial, and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does. Its activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society. The institution carefully blends and balances the best of many kinds of organizations, from both the public and private sectors, international organizations, and academic institutions.


About Trademark Africa

TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is an aid-for-trade organization that was established to grow prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TMEA operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, UK, and the USA. TMEA works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector, and civil society organizations.

tony blair

About The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Headquartered in the UK, The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is a not-for-profit that equips governments to respond to today’s challenges and seize tomorrow’s opportunities. It works with political leaders and governments worldwide on strategy, policy, and delivery – with technology as an enabler of all three. With 750 staff and growing, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change operates in more than 30 countries and has over 50 partners.


About The Institute of Export and International Trade

The Institute of Export & International Trade was established in 1935 to support UK businesses in growing their international markets and trade. The Institute is the leading association of exporters and importers. It provides education and training to professionalize the UK’s international traders. As a partner with governments, it delivers programs in the UK and internationally and are evangelists for global standards. The Institute co-partners in running the online Customs Academy, the world’s first training platform dedicated to customs skills and developed at the request of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

global alliance

About The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public-private partnership dedicated to international trade facilitation. It supports governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. Alliance projects cut through red tape and end costly delays at borders by bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners to deliver targeted trade reforms. By emphasizing digitalization and delivering other best practices, Alliance projects enable businesses to trade more easily thanks to streamlined and more predictable processes. Governments save time and resources by modernizing trade procedures while safeguarding their borders. Ultimately, Alliance projects boost trade competitiveness and business conditions, which are key drivers of inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. The Alliance is led by the Center for International Private Enterprise, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Economic Forum, in cooperation with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It is funded by the governments of the United States, Canada and Germany.


Media contact
Lauren Perry[email protected]
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