Trade has been increasingly globalized in recent decades, but this trend is now slowing, and the future may see an increasing fragmentation and a shift towards regionalization and localization. Drivers of these changing trade patterns will include shifting consumption patterns (with, for example, goods produced in China increasingly being consumed in Southeast Asia), changes in the political environment (see ‘Power transition’), changing consumer preferences (see ‘Consumption’), and the growth of new business models that are made possible by new technologies (such as ‘Blockchain’ and ‘Additive manufacturing’).

Economy trends

Changing trade patterns


Although digital globalization looks set to continue apace, trade globalization has been slowing down over the past 10 to 15 years as the number of bilateral and regional trade agreements proliferates, and countries increase their use of restrictive, trade policy measures.[1,2]

Regional trade agreements may increase the intensity of trade between their signatory countries[3] while regional connectivity initiatives (for example, the Master Plan on The Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] connectivity) will make intra-regional trade more efficient.[1] This may have particular impacts for developing economies – the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, for example, integrates a market of 1.2 billion people and may significantly stimulate the growth of African economies by considerably increasing intra-continental trade.[4] The potential downside is that regionalized trading could lead to disconnected markets and protectionism, particularly if there are conflicting technology standards between regions.[5]

Alongside this shift from international to intra-regional trade, there is also a shift from countries to cities, as the drivers of wealth creation and innovation (localization). Cities will increasingly “shape the dynamics of international trade”[1] over the next 30 years as more people move to urban areas because of better opportunities for work and education. Cities may even strengthen their position in the global economy to the extent that they “could replace countries as the most important economic entities” (see ‘Smart cities’).[6]

Increasing South-South trade

Trade between emerging economies (known as South-South trade) has increased significantly over the last 20 years and this trend is predicted to continue alongside economic growth in those countries. South-South Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) already make up more than half the total number of RTAs in the world, with the majority in Asia.[3] Further South-South trade growth will be driven by an increase in demand for consumer goods from a growing middle class (often goods that are produced in emerging economies), alongside better communications and easier customs arrangements.[6]

What and how we trade

The composition of trade flows and the means by which they are transported are evolving. In terms of what we trade, for several decades, international trade in services has grown at a much faster pace than trade in goods, and, despite being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, global trade in a wide range of services (e.g. financial, communications, tourism) is expected to increase over the next 20 years.[2] Trade in digital services (i.e. services provided over digital networks, such as computer network maintenance, entertainment, broadcasting, or financial management) is one area that has seen a huge growth recently (see ‘Services moving online’), and this has led to a massive increase in the amount of cross-border data flows.[7] Such cross-border data flows are essential for digital services trade but must also be carefully managed due to privacy concerns. Countries must ensure they place adequate restrictions on cross-border data flows to protect personal data and national security, without these restrictions being so severe that they negatively affect the level of digital services trade.[8] The importance of trade in digital services means that all countries will have to make big investments in digital capacity and data infrastructure to keep up with this evolution of the global trading system.[1] Countries less able to do so will be at a huge disadvantage in terms of economic and social development. The digital divide (related to levels of connectivity and access to the Internet) and data-related dive (related to the ability to capture, analyze and transform data into digital intelligence) between developed and developing countries is therefore a major challenge to overcome.[7]

In terms of how we trade, climate change, new technologies and shifting customer preferences are all contributing to reshaping the trade and logistics sectors. The potentially disruptive effects of climate change are causing companies to modify the way they operate to increase the resilience and reliability of their supply chains.[1] In some cases, this means the shortening of supply chains, which is made possible by new digital technologies such as automation and ‘5G’ (note: this contributes to the trend away from trade globalization).[9] Growth in the 3D-printing market (see ‘Additive manufacturing’) also facilitates this, by allowing for what’s called ‘re-shoring’ or ‘near-shoring’ of production – where manufacturing can be performed on demand and much closer to the end user. While this may decrease the need for long-distance transport, it will not eliminate it and thus the long-distance transport sector is also evolving in the face of new technologies and the imperative to reduce carbon emissions. For example, driverless freight using autonomous trucks may become a reality in the next 10 to 15 years, improving delivery times, and reducing traffic congestion, operating costs and accidents.[1] Meanwhile, in shipping, many companies are exploring low-carbon fuels, renewable energy, and new ship designs (e.g. hulls and propellors) to increase efficiency and reduce carbon footprints.[10] These kinds of changes are also propelled by an increasing customer demand for more sustainable production and more customized products (see ‘Consumption’).

News stories

De l’action en faveur du climat à l’essor de l’économie du partage, les règles traditionnelles du commerce sont aujourd’hui bouleversées. 
Dans un monde où de nombreux pays risquent de ne pas pouvoir participer au commerce mondial, l’évaluation de la conformité est essentielle pour établir la confiance et les bonnes pratiques.
Un accroissement de la productivité et des produits de qualité sont quelques-uns des avantages que les Normes internationales peuvent apporter aux échanges commerciaux mondiaux.  
Comité technique
ISO/TC 292
Sécurité et résilience
  • 57 Normes publiées | 20 Projets en développement
  • ISO/CD 22373 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Security and resilience — Authenticity, integrity and trust for products and documents — Framework for establishing trustworthy supply chains
  • ISO 22376:2023
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Spécifications relatives aux formats de données et l'utilisation du Cachet Électronique Visible (CEV) aux fins d'authentification, de vérification et d'acquisition des données véhiculées par un document ou un objet
  • ISO 22378:2022
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Lignes directrices pour l’identification interopérable d’objets et systèmes d’authentification associés destinés à décourager la contrefaçon et le commerce illicite
  • ISO 22385:2023
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Lignes directrices visant à établir un cadre pour la confiance et l'interopérabilité
  • ISO/TS 22386 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Lignes directrices pour la protection des marques et les procédures de mise en application
  • ISO 22387:2022
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Procédures de validation pour l'application des métriques d'artéfact
  • ISO 22388:2023
    Sécurité et résilience — Authenticité, intégrité et confiance pour les produits et les documents — Lignes directrices visant à sécuriser les documents physiques
Comité technique
ISO/PC 317
Protection des consommateurs :respect de la vie privée assuré dès la conception des biens de consommation et services aux consommateurs
  • 2 Normes publiées
  • ISO 31700-1:2023
    Protection des consommateurs — Respect de la vie privée assuré dès la conception des biens de consommation et services aux consommateurs
    Partie 1: Exigences de haut niveau
  • ISO/TR 31700-2:2023
    Protection des consommateurs — Respect de la vie privée assuré dès la conception des biens de consommation et services aux consommateurs
    Partie 2: Cas d’usage
Comité technique
Bureau de gestion technique - groupes
  • 67 Normes publiées | 12 Projets en développement
  • PRF IWA 45 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Sustainable critical mineral supply chains

New business models

As digitalization has accelerated, so has economic connectedness, leading to the emergence of today’s data-driven digital economy and, with it, some new business models.

Digital platforms

The use of digital platforms (e-commerce platforms) has allowed sellers to connect directly to buyers, to make more efficient exchanges, and to gain greater access to international markets (especially in the case of SMEs).[2] The role of the ‘middle-man’ in the economy (e.g. distributors and physical retailers) has been transformed and may eventually become redundant.[3] Advanced uptake of technologies such as ’Artificial intelligence‘ and ’Blockchain’ are spurring this trend and the expansion and diversification of digital platforms is expected to steadily increase over the next ten years.[11] Because these digital platforms have the ability to collect data at a massive scale, there is growing concern that large digital platforms are already creating monopolistic or undesirable market conditions and that better regulation and global data governance are needed to combat this.[3,7]

Sharing economy

One notable new business model that has been made possible by digital platforms is the sharing economy (also called the ‘gig’ or ‘peer-to-peer, P2P’ economy), which refers to a model of collaborative consumption where people can use or consume a product or service without taking full ownership (i.e. the owner of that resource shares it), allowing people to redistribute and make use of excess capacity of goods or services in the economy.[12] Transactions are usually facilitated by a digital platform – Uber, the ride-sharing app, and Airbnb, the online marketplace for accommodation, are some well-known examples. The sharing economy is expected to grow significantly over the next ten years (with a predicted 35% growth per year in Europe) and this growth is driven by societal and environmental trends such as ‘Urbanization’, consumer demand for ‘Sustainable production’ and ‘Consumption’, and ‘Natural resource scarcity’.[3,12]

Digital currencies

Alongside changes in how people buy and sell goods and services, the emergence of digital currencies is changing the way people pay for them. Digital currencies include cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies and central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Today, the most popular digital currencies are cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which use ‘Blockchain’ technology to verify transactions (in a very energy-intensive manner).[13] However, it is predicted that digital currencies will gain wider acceptance over the next 20 years as more central banks begin to issue them to supplement or replace fiat (physical) currencies.[2] Developing countries, particularly in Africa, have already shown a huge interest in digital currencies, driven by the high use of mobile-banking services and young consumers. Nigeria launched Africa’s first CBDC, the eNaira, in October 2021.[14] China, South Africa and Sweden are amongst 14 countries piloting a CBDC and, as of January 2022, 87 countries (making up over 90% of global GDP) are exploring a CDBC (up from only 35 countries in May 2020).[15] The advantages of digital currencies include that they are cheaper to administrate than fiat currency and allow faster and lower-cost transactions (by cutting out intermediaries). Their disadvantages include that they could enable the shadow economy by facilitating the movement of funds by criminal organizations, they are vulnerable to hacking, and can be volatile in value.[3,6] Strong regulation will therefore be needed to control the impacts of digital currencies.

News stories

Pour enrayer la crise climatique, des investissements massifs à l’échelle mondiale sont indispensables. Plus nous tarderons à agir, plus les coûts seront élevés, à la fois pour atténuer la hausse de la …
De l’action en faveur du climat à l’essor de l’économie du partage, les règles traditionnelles du commerce sont aujourd’hui bouleversées. 
Nouvelle norme pour faciliter la bonne croissance du secteur.
La nouvelle norme sur les jetons digitaux met tout le monde sur la même longueur d’onde.
On a tous déjà entendu parler du Bitcoin. C’est la première cryptomonnaie connue du grand public, mais d’autres concurrentes gagnent rapidement en popularité. Il existe, semble-t-il, plus de 1 800 types …
Que vous souhaitiez commander un taxi, trouver un hébergement pour les vacances ou faire appel à une aide à domicile, il existe aujourd’hui des applications et des sites Web perfectionnés, qui rendent …
Comité technique
Services financiers
  • 75 Normes publiées | 26 Projets en développement
  • ISO 13491-1:2024
    Services financiers — Dispositifs cryptographiques de sécurité (services aux particuliers)
    Partie 1: Concepts et exigences
  • ISO 13491-2:2023
    Services financiers — Dispositifs cryptographiques de sécurité (services aux particuliers)
    Partie 2: Listes de contrôle de conformité de sécurité pour les dispositifs utilisés dans les transactions financières
  • ISO/AWI TS 14742 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Services financiers — Recommandations sur les algorithmes cryptographiques et leur utilisation
  • ISO 23195:2021
    Security objectives of information systems of third-party payment services
  • ISO/TS 23526:2023
    Security aspects for digital currencies
  • ISO 24165-1:2021
    Jeton digital — Enregistrement, affectation et structure
    Partie 1: Méthode pour l’enregistrement et l’affectation
  • ISO 24165-2:2021
    Jeton digital — Enregistrement, affectation et structure
    Partie 2: Données d’enregistrement
Comité technique
ISO/TC 207
Management environnemental
  • 69 Normes publiées | 23 Projets en développement
  • ISO 14030-1:2021
    Évaluation de la performance environnementale — Titres de créance verts
    Partie 1: Processus pour les obligations vertes
  • ISO 14030-2:2021
    Évaluation de la performance environnementale — Titres de créance verts
    Partie 2: Processus pour les crédits verts
  • ISO 14030-3:2022
    Évaluation de la performance environnementale — Titres de créance verts
    Partie 3: Taxinomie
  • ISO 14030-4:2021
    Évaluation de la performance environnementale — Titres de créance verts
    Partie 4: Exigences pour un programme de vérification
  • ISO 14100:2022
    Recommandations relatives aux critères environnementaux pour les projets, les actifs et les activités visant à soutenir le développement de la finance verte
Comité technique
ISO/TC 307
Technologies des chaînes de blocs et technologies de registre distribué
  • 12 Normes publiées | 9 Projets en développement
  • ISO/AWI 20435 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Représentation des actifs physiques à l’aide de jetons non fongibles
Comité technique
ISO/TC 321
Assurance des transactions de commerce électronique
  • 2 Normes publiées | 5 Projets en développement
  • ISO 32110:2023
    Assurance des transactions de commerce électronique — Vocabulaire
  • ISO 32111:2023
    Assurance des transactions de commerce électronique — Principes et cadre
  • ISO/DIS 32122 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Transaction assurance in e-commerce — Guidelines for offering online dispute resolution services
Comité technique
ISO/TC 322
Finance durable
  • 2 Normes publiées | 3 Projets en développement
  • ISO 32210:2022
    Finance durable — Lignes directrices pour l’application des principes de durabilité aux organisations dans le domaine financier
  • ISO/AWI TS 32211 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Principles and guidelines for development and implementation of sustainable finance products and services
  • ISO/AWI TS 32219 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Sustainable Finance — Terminology for impact, risk and related information technology
  • ISO/TR 32220:2021
    Finance durable — Concepts de base et initiatives clés
Comité technique
ISO/TC 324
Economie du partage
  • 3 Normes publiées | 4 Projets en développement
  • ISO 42500:2021
    Économie du partage — Principes généraux
  • ISO/TS 42501:2022
    Économie du partage — Fiabilité générale et exigences de sécurité pour les plateformes numériques
  • ISO/TS 42502:2022
    Économie du partage — Lignes directrices pour la vérification du fournisseur sur les plateformes numériques
  • ISO/AWI 42503 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Sharing economy — Framework for implementation
  • ISO/WD TR 42504 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Économie du partage — Exemples concrets de vérifications de fournisseurs sur les plateformes numériques
  • ISO/AWI TR 42505 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Sharing economy — Shared manufacturing — Concepts and models
  • ISO/AWI TR 42507 [Actuellement en cours d'élaboration]
    Économie du partage — Cas d'utilisation de plateformes de l'économie du partage dans le secteur public


  1. Global connectivity outlook to 2030 (World Bank, 2019)
  2. Global trends 2040. A more contested world (US National Intelligence Council, 2021)
  3. Future outlook. 100 Global trends for 2050 (UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, 2017)
  4. Foresight Africa. Top priorities for the continent 2020-2030 (Brookings Institution, 2020)
  5. Global risks 2035 update. Decline or new renaissance? (Atlantic Council, 2019)
  6. Global strategic trends. The future starts today (UK Ministry of Defence, 2018)
  7. Digital economy report 2021. Cross-border data flows and development: For whom the data flow (UN Conference on Trade and Development, 2021)
  8. World development report 2021. Data for better lives (World Bank, 2021)
  9. Asia pacific megatrends 2040 (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 2019)
  10. Five future trends in the shipping industry (MARINEi, 2021)
  11. Digital megatrends. A perspective on the coming decade of digital disruption (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 2019)
  12. Beyond the noise. The megatrends of tomorrow's world (Deloitte, 2017)
  13. Bitcoin uses more electricity than many countries. How is that possible? (New York Times, 2021)
  14. Widespread m-payment adoption in Africa inspires growing interest in crypto currencies (Nielsen, 2021)
  15. Central Bank Digital Currency Tracker (Atlantic Council, 2022)