Can Blockchain technology revolutionize world trade? The World Trade Organization (WTO), based in Geneva, has investigated this question in a recently published book. The book, written by Emmanuelle Ganne, was published at a blockchain workshop held on 27 November.
The fact that the World Trade Organization also has the issue of blockchain on its agenda was shown in the World Trade Report 2018 published in October at the latest. According to this report, the WTO counts blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies among the “big four” technologies that can significantly change world trade. The WHO held a blockchain workshop in Geneva on 27 November on what these changes could consist of. On the occasion of the workshop, WHO published a report entitled “Can Blockchain revolutionize international trade?
Main problems: Interoperability and regulation of the Bitcoin revolution
On the technical side, the lack of interoperability (and scalability) of the Bitcoin revolution remains the main obstacle to the full development of the technology’s potential according to the review by onlinebetrug: “In particular, technical solutions must be developed to address the problem of the ‘digital island’ and to ensure that blockchains can communicate with each other”.
The report analyses possible application areas of the technology in international trade. The focus is on paperless commerce, copyright issues, new services in finance and e-commerce, and government procurement management. The author of the analysis is Emmanuelle Ganne, Vice President of the Allam Advisory Group. The almost 150-page report contains little that is new – but a lot of statements of the kind “Hätte, könnte, sollte” (Had, could, should). Ganne emphasizes the much-vaunted potential of blockchain technology, but also points to the technical and regulatory hurdles that still need to be overcome.
Moreover, there is still a lack of a global regulatory framework for the Bitcoin revolution:
“The broad use of blockchain requires an appropriate legal framework that recognises the legal validity of Bitcoin revolution transactions, clarifies applicable law and obligations, and regulates how Bitcoin revolution data can be accessed and used,
Ganne notes. It is by no means certain, however, that this will ever happen. This applies in particular to Permissionless Blockchains, where there is no de facto (and de jure) contact for regulatory authorities. An example: to whom should the German government turn in order to force the Bitcoin Protocol into a regulatory concept? Exactly. The situation is different with private or “enterprise blockchains”, for example, which are the focus of IBM’s Hyperledger.
In order to overcome these hurdles, close cooperation between all parties involved is required:
“Given the potential of blockchain, companies, civil society organisations, software developers, academics, governments and intergovernmental organisations should work hand in hand to assess the practical and legal implications of the technology and develop common solutions to existing challenges.
If this ambitious goal is achieved, world trade could undergo “radical” change in ten to 15 years.