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World-leading centre to boost international trade launches in North East

Since it began its activity last April with the appointment of its first Director and receiving strong support from ministers at the Department of International Trade and Cabinet Office, the C4DTI has already started on its work to provide a practical framework for collaborative and open pilot work in digitalising International Trade.

The centre has already had a considerable impact trade and growth in the North East that is being carried out in Teesside, in the Teesport Freeport and with the support of the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

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The C4DTI is industry-led and is working to create an open digital trade system based on common, internationally recognised standards. It is working to ensure the UK takes full advantage of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill, our network of Free Trade and Digital Economy Agreements and the boost to trade offered by the creation of Freeports in the UK.

C4DTI aims to show industry how digital processes can be safely adopted with significant benefits to profitability, sustainability and security of supply chains. Initial work has focused on Singapore, building on the Digital Economy Agreement the UK has recently signed.

Set up in response to the government’s  ambition for the UK to have an open trading system with the rest of the world, the Centre aims to identify barriers and drive innovation at scale. By digitalising the UK trading system, there could be £224bn in efficiency savings.

Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Teesside has a long proud history of being at the forefront of manufacturing and international trade, most recently exemplified by the development of the UK’s first and largest Freeport, Teesworks and Teesside Airport.

“Innovation through digitalisation will be vital in making sure we deliver real growth opportunities to firms in the area and, the rest of the United Kingdom. It gives me great pleasure to welcome the opening of the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation and I look forward to its work producing real economic benefit for people across Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.”

Nigel Huddleston, Minister of State at the Department for Business and Trade, said: “Digital trade can help people thrive, support jobs, raise living standards, and respond to the needs of workers, innovators and consumers which is why I am pleased to welcome the opening of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Centre for Digital Trade, based in and funded by Tees Valley Combined Authority.

“This new centre will help provide a system of trade fit for the future and shows the ambition of the UK to be at the forefront of global trade innovation.”

Lord Holmes of Richmond, Member of the Lords Committee on the Electronic Trade Documents Bill, said: “In the next few weeks, with the expected passage of the Electronic Trade Documents Bill the UK is likely to become the first major global economy to enable critical documents used in trade to be assured and transferred digitally with full legal effect.

Innovation through digitalisation will be vital in making sure we deliver real growth opportunities to firms in the area and, the rest of the United Kingdom.

“The government’s impact assessment of the Bill suggests that this can bring huge benefits to all trading entities, large and small. But the Bill is only an enabler, we need to put its provisions into practice and to do so on an open and internationally collaborative basis. The ICC’s Centre for Digital Trade, based in and funded by Teesside, has a critical role to play in enabling that collaboration and showing how those benefits can be realised.”

John Carroll, Chair of the C4DTI Board and Head of International and Transactional Banking at Santander UK said: “The UK has a great opportunity to boost its growth and global competitiveness through the adoption of greater digital processes in its international trade. The C4DTI stands ready to work with industry, government and academia to move the dial on digital trade and put the UK at the forefront of innovation and implementation in this critical area.”

The Northern Echo: Professor Craig GaskellProfessor Craig Gaskell (Image: Press release)

Professor Craig Gaskell, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange), Teesside University said: “Teesside University is proud to support and host the C4DTI. As an anchor institution for the Tees Valley, we deliver skills and applied research to drive innovation and knowledge exchange; ensuring this region is best-placed to take full-advantage of global opportunities for 21st century industry.

“These ambitions align perfectly with the goals of the Centre and I look forward to the partnership between us delivering real results for all international trade both local and national.”

Sin Yon Loh, Director Trade Trust, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Government of Singapore said: “As part of efforts to support the United Kingdom and Singapore Government’s Digital Economy Agreement, we are excited to partner the ICC Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation to ensure that real world trade stands to benefit from new technologies and frameworks.”


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Director General of the Institute of Export and International Trade Marco Forgione said: “The realisation of the benefits of trade digitalisation depends not just on technology and process improvement, but equipping industry with the skills and training to take full advantage of the opportunity it presents. As the training partner of the centre, the Institute of Export & International Trade is already working with Teesside University to support traders, especially the vital SME sector, with courses which will set them up for success. “

Chris Southworth, Secretary General ICC United Kingdom said: “The huge opportunity we have here to improve and increase UK international trade and thus growth, depends on entities like the C4DTI working with industry to show how digitalisation can help in practice. But this needs to be done collaboratively and with the support of our partners here in the North East, the Centre is well placed to be able to facilitate the transformation that is in prospect.”

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