The use of new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), is transforming the global trade landscape. While technical barriers to trade are being removed, consumer behavior is evolving, creating new challenges for businesses. In response, World Accreditation Day highlights how accreditation is addressing emerging trends to support industry in the future global trading system.
Growing concerns related to cybersecurity, data protection, and product authenticity, among others, have led to increased scrutiny of product integrity. Consumers are becoming more conscious of sustainability, provenance, health, and ethics, forcing brands to improve their understanding and oversight of their supply network. Transparency enabled by technology and communications networks is transforming the way trust is gained and lost.
In response, industry has a responsibility to instill continued consumer confidence. Supporting regulators’ needs is critical as customer expectations for faster lead times, expanded products and services, and tailored experiences are resulting in greater supply chain complexity. Standards, metrology, and accreditation provide the foundation for global trade by reducing transaction costs and providing common reference points. They provide a passport of trust that enables goods and services to circulate between economies without the need for additional testing, inspection, certification, validation, or verification in the importing economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new risks and challenges in global supply chains, forcing businesses to be more resilient and agile as they face labor or raw material shortages, inflationary pressures, and shifts in their supply chains. The pandemic has also impacted the established models of quality assurance. The increased use of remote techniques for audits, assessments, and evaluations during the pandemic is an example of how accreditation and conformity assessment have adapted to maintain levels of confidence and supply chain fluidity. The vision of further new techniques demonstrates that the use of sensors, data feeds, and many other factors will see this area evolve and develop further, bringing greater value and benefit to those who use it now and those who will embrace it in the future. International cooperation in accreditation will be key in sparking such changes. New technologies such as AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain can help businesses streamline supply chain operations, enhance transparency and traceability, and reduce costs.
In conclusion, while the removal of technical barriers to trade has provided the necessary trust to support trade by ensuring that consumers, businesses, and regulators procuring goods and services get what they expect, the use of new technologies, AI, and changes in consumer behavior will continue to impact global trade. Accreditation and conformity assessment play a critical role in supporting industry to address emerging trends, instill continued consumer confidence, and enable trust in innovation and new technologies. The future of trade lies in the ability of businesses to adapt and harness new technologies to streamline their supply chains, enhance transparency and traceability, and reduce costs.
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