The Centre for Digital
Trade & Innovation

Making trade cheaper, simpler, faster and more sustainable

The Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI)

C4DTI is an ICC United Kingdom-led, global initiative based at Teesside University established with support from the Tees Valley Combined Authority. We are an industry-led, government-supported public-private partnership that works with the ICC Digital Standards Initiative, foreign governments, business groups, companies and international partners to digitalise UK trade. We are agnostic to technology and advocate for open, interoperable systems (laws, rules, standards).

Our vision

Our vision is a modern, digital trading system that is cheaper, faster, simpler and more secure and sustainable for all companies. An environment where data, not documents, is used effectively and trade transactions happen in real-time. Where risk is reduced, finance is cheaper and more accessible, borders are frictionless, systems and processes connect, and information flows in common, standardised formats across jurisdictions. An environment that enables trade and sustainability data to combine and provide more transparent and green supply chains.

The challenge

Across much of the world, the trading system suffers from antiquated laws and a lack of standardisation. Systems are fragmented, and processes are unnecessarily paper-heavy making trade inefficient and costly, especially for smaller companies.

For companies using English law, this is changing fast. The Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023 has removed all legal requirements to handle documents of title on paper, enabling companies to transact digitally under public law for the first time. The challenge is to scale up trade digitalisation across public and private sector systems, borders, trade corridors and global supply chains to reap the economic benefits.

Our Mission

Our mission is to accelerate and scale up the digitalisation of UK trade. We deliver this mission through a wide range of practical services and opportunities:


  1. Campaigns to promote the benefits of digitalisation and adoption of international standards.
  2. Education and training to support companies to digitalise trade ecosystems.
  3. Research to provide thought leadership and identify potential barriers and solutions to digitalisation.
  4. Market infrastructure to ensure the digital trade is able to function effectively and able to innovate.
  5. End-to-end cross-border supply chain pilots to test the application of international frameworks, the functionality of standardised systems, processes and technology solutions.
  6. A dedicated corporate digitalisation taskforce to scale up the benefits of trade digitalisation across global supply chains.
  7. Legal assistance to support low to middle-income countries to remove requirements for the use of paper commercial trade documents and align legal systems.
  8. Multilateral engagement to ensure international alignment and coordination.
  9. C4DTI Digital Trade Conference and Awards to promote international best practice.

ICC Digital Trade Roadmap

The ICC United Kingdom Digital Trade Roadmap was first conceived in 2017 and has since been updated in 2022. The Roadmap is intended to help provide a framework for digitalisation, setting out three pillars of action required to digitalise trade; legal reform, standardisation, adoption and implementation. It also sets out how the trade system operates today, how it will operate in the future and what needs to be implemented now to achieve this vision.


We know from the evidence that there are terrific economic gains to be made for trade if companies digitalise systems and remove paper but this is not something that will happen overnight. That is why the C4DTI has been established, to align efforts across government and the private sector and accelerate transformation across the trade system. Trade plays a huge role in the global economy so digitalisation is vital to establishing a more sustainable system. Real time transactional data will enable us to gather far richer, more insightful information to help us track and monitor the flow of sustainable goods and finance across the system. This is simply not possible if information is held on paper documents.

-Chris Southworth, Secretary General, ICC United Kingdom

ICC Digital Standards Initiative

The ICC Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) aims to accelerate the development of a globally harmonised, digitised trade environment, as a key enabler of dynamic, sustainable, inclusive growth. We engage the public sector to progress regulatory and institutional reform, and mobilise the private sector on adoption,

Making Trade more Sustainable


Digitalisation is fundamental to making trade more sustainable because it enables companies to gather accurate, real-time data on the movement of goods, services and finance across borders. As a result, companies, government and consumers can all make better-informed decisions and choices.


Get in Touch