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"Suominen brilliantly explores the impact of new technologies on the patterns, players, and possibilities of world trade, and their unparalleled potential to reignite productivity, raise incomes, and empower people."
- Anabel Gonzalez, former Costa Rican Trade Minister and Senior Director at the World Bank


How disruptive technologies open opportunities for all

Stanford University Press, 2019

Almost 15 years ago, in The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman popularized the latest wave of globalization as a world of giant corporate supply chains that tripled world trade between 1990 and 2010. Major corporations such as Apple, Dell, and GE offshored manufacturing to low-cost economies; China became the world's factory, mass-producing and exporting computers and gadgets to Western shoppers. This paradigm of globalization has dominated global trade policy-making and guided hundreds of billions of dollars in business investments and development spending for almost three decades. 

But we are now on the cusp of a new era. Revolutionizing World Trade argues that technologies such as ecommerce, 3D printing, 5G, the Cloud, blockchain, and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the economics of trade and global production, empowering businesses of all sizes to make, move, and market products and services worldwide and with greater ease than ever before. The twin forces of digitization and globalization are changing the patterns, players, politics, and possibilities of world trade, and can reinvigorate global productivity growth. However, new policy challenges and old regulatory frameworks are stifling the promise of this most dynamic, prosperous, and inclusive wave of globalization yet.


This book uses new empirical evidence and policy experiences to examine the clash between emerging possibilities in world trade and outdated policies and institutions, offering several policy recommendations for navigating these obstacles to catalyze growth and development around the world.

Read blog summarizing some of the arguments.




Globalization, technology, and mass affluence have changed the rules for international expansion. In Revolutionizing World Trade, Suominen walks us through how these changes have upended the traditional trading world, driven by ecommerce and the Internet. Every international business should get this book.

- Frank Lavin, Chairman, Export Now, former Undersecretary for International Trade, U.S. Department of Commerce

Revolutionizing World Trade provides an in-depth look at forces changing trade and global business and makes important recommendations for bold policy ideas which would enable outsized economic growth across global markets. A must-read for anyone driven to solve these big problems.


- Brenda Santoro, Head of Global Trade, Silicon Valley Bank

Kati Suominen introduces this book as a roadmap for the far-sighted entrepreneur; however, it is much more than that. She explores the opportunities and challenges facing businesses, policy makers, regulators, and society in general, before finally setting out her manifesto for using e-commerce as a key enabler for inclusive trade. This book will help you better understand how e-commerce is shaping our world today and the benefits that it can bring tomorrow.


- Steven Pope, Vice President Customs & Regulatory Affairs, DHL Express Europe


Trade has historically been expensive, slow, and opaque. Today's disruptive technologies not only offer new solutions to old problems, but create wholly new global markets for products and services. Suominen draws from her deep experience in the world of goods trade to clearly set out the parameters of this new global trading ecosystem, offering excellent insight and advice for goods producers seeking to get involved in frontier technologies like blockchain and AI.


- Dr. Alisa DiCaprio, Head of Trade and Supply Chain, R3

An important new book, highlighting the trading opportunities that come with new technologies. It analyzes the challenges that need to be overcome, including cross-border procedures, and makes the key point that beyond digitizing trade, we also need to digitize customs, borders, and ports.


- Jan Hoffmann, Chief, Trade Logistics Branch, Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD

Kati has a wealth of experience in international trade from both a private sector practitioner perspective as well as a public sector policy perspective. Her work has taken her to the forefront of the evolving trade landscape. This book elucidates this evolution and is a great contribution to the debate about the future of trade and our ability to shape its course for the betterment of the global community.

- Steven Beck, Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance, Asian Development Bank





Disruptive technologies—3D printing, ecommerce, blockchain, AI, 5G, and so on—are quietly revolutionizing the economics of global production and trade. They are empowering businesses of all sizes to cut costs and make, move, and market products and services worldwide with greater ease than ever before. They are encouraging millions of solo entrepreneurs to grow into multinational sellers. They are enabling consumers and companies to access and choose from a global catalogue of products and services. They are slashing the costs companies have paid to intermediaries such as banks, freight forwarders, customs brokers, trade lawyers, and shipping lines, by automating and accelerating the flow of goods from door to door and payments from bank to bank, and by digitizing the piles of documents, data, and information that accompany the billions of trade transactions that crisscross the planet each year. They are helping us close in on the Holy Grail of world trade: seamless integration and automation of the informational, financial, and physical supply chains that undergird trade transactions.


The best part: the emerging technologies change the possibilities of trade to do good—to reignite productivity growth of economies, raise incomes, and empower people around the world to realize their full economic potential. 


As the patterns and players of world trade change, so change the constraints to trade. There are various challenges, such as widening gaps in the adoption of technologies among and within countries; arcane customs procedures and congested cities that still grind trade to a halt; creeping digital protectionism that stunts businesses’ scalability; small companies’ limited access to finance for growing their global business; and the acrimonious politics around trade and the impact of automation and AI on jobs. A thicket of taxes, tariffs, red tape, regulations, and other challenges must be cleared if technology-powered trade is to run free and catalyze economic growth. 



If we overcome these challenges, twenty-second-century economic historians will look back on this period as a global economic renaissance and a transformation that enabled people around the world to gain from trade as producers and consumers, sellers and buyers. If we fail, the global economy can balkanize just as in the nineteenth century, when countries used tariffs to collect revenue and nurture infant industries. This was a self-defeating approach that took over a century to correct. The book shines a light on the clash between an emerging wave of possibilities and outdated policies that arrest us.


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Kati Suominen is Founder and CEO of Nextrade Group, a Los Angeles-based data and analytics company that helps governments, multilateral development banks, and Fortune 500s enable world trade through technology. She is the author and editor of ten books on trade and economics, notably Revolutionizing World Trade: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunities for All (Stanford University Press, 2019), Peerless and Periled: The Paradox of America's Leadership in the World Economic Order (Stanford University Press, 2012), and Globalization at Risk: Challenges to Finance and Trade (Yale University Press, 2010, one of Foreign Affairs' best international affairs books of the year).


Dr. Suominen has created countless data and analytics products aimed to dissect and solve challenges to world trade, and ideated and built six global initiatives and public-private partnerships to further the digitization and world trade and ecommerce development. She serves as Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she cofounded the Digital Trade program, and Adjunct Professor at the UCLA Anderson School, where she teaches MBA courses on international business economics and the economics of global digital disruption. She is Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.



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