top of page


Fast payment systems

In recent years, there has been growing discussion on “digital public infrastructures” (DPIs), systems such as identity, alternative payment methods, and data exchanges that are backed by governments through ownership, operation, or through direct or indirect control or support.   DPIs are often aimed to promote financial inclusion across the society. The purpose of this brief, is to promote data-driven, policy-relevant discussion on the impacts of different types of FPS and other payment systems on inclusive development 

Trust in trade: Challenges to the global convergence on digital standards

The trade costs of recent global supply chain disruptions are compounded by the persistence of arcane, paper-based trade documentation and lack of interoperability among them. This paper for the Hinrich Foundations notes that the adoption of digital standards over the past two decades in the trade community is slow at best, as corporations face uncertainty and a lack of adequate policy support.

Postal connectivity.jpg
Promoting the diffusion of AI to fuel Asia's trade

sia-Pacific have utilized AI to scale their capabilities for designing new products and services, acquiring customers, managing supply chains, and much more. In the trade ecosystem, AI has been used to accelerate trade flows through ports, offering of trade finance, and improving logistics services. This paper for the Hinrich Foundation considers policy frameworks that would promote  safe use of AI at scale.


This report extends our series on Digital Trade Agreement Observatory launched in 2022 to review the 2023 implementation of the CPTPP ecommerce chapter by its members, and reflects on opportunities to scale the CPTPP's e-commerce provisions further in the Asia-Pacific.


In recent years, there has been growing discussion on “digital public infrastructures” (DPIs). This paper prepared for USAID and the eTrade Alliance seeks to promote dialogue on DPIs, the fundamentals countries should have in place to adopt DPIs, and the competition policy and business models in promoting digitization and digital services for MSMEs.


This policy brief for the Hinrich Foundation discusses how disruptive technologies are changing the way companies and nations trade. As ports, highways, and vessels become more autonomous, technology is driving billions of dollars’ worth of a reduction in the cost of moving goods and easing a major constraint to the growth of global commerce.


This paper jointly commissioned with the global standard-setter GS1 discusses the policy trends of traceability and solutions to enable businesses to adjust and comply with the new rules. To help ensure the new traceability mandates translate into trade gains, the paper urges policymakers to provide support to small suppliers and work closely with the private sector to create globally interoperable traceability standards.


This forthcoming study analyzes African countries' readiness for the AFCFTA Digital Protocol.

EU DMA.png

This study delivered for CCIA and CSIS, aims to evaluate the potential impact of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) on U.S. digital service providers, their customers in Europe and the United States, as as the EU and U.S. economies and exports. The assessment will provide insights into the implications of these acts on the digital landscape and its stakeholders.

Monitoring digital trade agreements.jpg
Monitoring the Implementation of the CPTPP's E-commerce Chapter: Proposed Tool Kit and Initial Assessment

This report prepared for Google and AWS continues our work on the impacts and implementation of digital trade agreements and digital trade chapters in regional trade agreements, by focusing on a critical question on  how well CPTPP members actually implement their digital trade obligations and ideating a  groundbreaking process for the members to together monitor the implementation of their digital trade provisions.

Business and technogy solutions to ecommerce pain points

The purpose of this report, produced for the Alliance for eTrade Development supported by USAID and created by Nextrade, is to promote dialogue on concrete policy and technology solutions to accelerate the interoperability of digital payments in the Asia-Pacific, in order to support MSMEs’ crossborder ecommerce.


This report continues our work on the use and impacts of ecommerce among Central American firms and consumers, with Central America's SME agency Cenpromype, replicating our 2019 analytics in the post-Covid-19 era, with over 1,700 firms and 1,100 consumers. 

Do Digital Trade agreements have value? Our work on CPTPP at 3 

This report produced with Google seeks to provide early insight into the CPTPP’s potential effects by looking at trade and investment flows in the CPTPP region in the past few years, exploring the views of firms in the CPTPP region on the agreement and especially its e-commerce chapter, and presenting preliminary findings on the CPTPP’s unique impacts relative to other factors that have shaped trade and e-commerce patterns in the region, such as other recent trade agreements, trade wars, and the Covid-19 crisis.

Data protection, binary code with European Union flag.jpg

This data-driven report gauges the costs and negative economic effects on Europe and the United States of the EU's sweeping digital regulations, such as the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA), and U.S. and European global strategic and national security interests. 

Container ship working at night, Business import export logistic and transportation of Int

This series of thought leadership reports prepared by Nextrade for the Hinrich Foundation examine the digitization of trade ecosystem in Asia-Pacific in particular and keys to accelerate digitization of trade, such as through innovative and interoperable payments, using of blockchain in ports, customs and supply chains, investing in digital traceability supply chains.


Nextrade Group leads the technical direction and all research in the USAID-backed Alliance for eTrade Development we built in 2017 and grew in 2019, with altogether 14 leading corporate partners. Here are our diagnostics on MSME ecommerce around the world. 


Technologies from blockchain to AI, IoT, 3D printing, 5G, digital twins, and more offer tremendous opportunities for governments, including in Latin America and the Caribbean, to facilitate and promote trade and investment.  This report describes exactly how, presenting dozens of technology use cases and policy framework for adopting them.


Our new report and firm-level survey with over 2,000 firms in Mexico, a booming ecommerce market with a vibrant Fintech sector, seeks to pioneer in identifying policies to enable Fintechs to better support MSMEs that sell online. We propose that government credit enhancements and loan guarantees on Fintech-issued loans. The guarantee concept could also be applied over time to export credit agencies (ECAs) that in many countries guarantee bank-issued export working capital loans for MSMEs. 

How to use blockchain to facilitate trade in single windows?

July 01, 2019

Blockchain opens tremendous opportunities for undoing inefficiencies and high coordination costs in world trade.  Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen was hired by the Inter-American Development Bank and World Economic Forum to coordinate a research project on the uses of blockchain in single windows, with two dozen global experts. The result is a report Windows of Opportunity: Facilitating Trade with Blockchain Technology.

Perfecting matches in US manufacturing jobs, including with AI and ML

November 03, 2019

There has been a great deal of talk about a supposed skills gap in US manufacturing. The bigger and more accurate story however, per a new report by Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen for CSIS and Arconic Foundation,  a mismatch problems in manufacturing labor markets that keep qualified workers from being optimally sorted into jobs.

Life beyond Brexit: Policy Roadmap for U.S.-U.K. Digital Trade

December 16, 2019

The United States and the United Kingdom are the world’s leading exporters of digitally-delivered services, and much of their trade is with each other. This policy report by Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen, Heather Conley, Senior Vice President at Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Allie Renison, Head of EU & Trade Policy at the UK Institute for Directors, offers a policy roadmap for a future digital trade agenda between the United States and UK.

What policy mix optimizes SMEs use of online platforms for trade? New global policy index for USAID

January 01, 2020

Online platforms such as Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Mercado Libre, Jumia, and Alibaba are providing a powerful opportunities for SMEs to reach customers around the world, export and import, and build their own global value chains. In this report, the Alliance for eTrade Development operated by Nextrade CEO at Business for eTrade Development has published its report which uses proprietary data to understand how very powerfully platforms enable SMEs to engage in trade, maps out the adoption of 60 policies and programs  conducive to SME ecommerce in 40 countries, and develops a policy roadmap for governments around the world to further ecommerce development in their economies. The Alliance developed pilots projects for ecommerce in East Africa, Central America and Southeast Asia.

Growing the Global Ecommerce Development Database with the World Bank  

May 10, 2019

In 2018, Nextrade has expanded its flagship database and index, based on detail firm-level surveys and pioneered with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the World Bank. The survey is aimed to provide rigorous, data-driven guidance for prioritizing policymaking and aid allocations in ecommerce development. Our work in 2018-19 has covered over 7,000 firms  in 18 countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Middle East and North Africa.

What Should U.S. Blockchain Policy Be? Policy report for CSIS with IBM

November 01, 2018

Blockchain is transforming businesses, markets, and economies. U.S. companies are leading the development of blockchain technologies and use cases around the world. In this report for the Scholl Chair in Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen defines what U.S. government's role should be in fueling the development of blockchain in America and globally.

Accelerating Ecommerce Development in Latin America: New Report for UN ECLAC 

December 20, 2018

Ecommerce is opening new opportunities for Latin America companies to export and import, and regional consumers to gain access to goods and services at better prices. In this working paper for the United National Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Nextrade uses rigorous data analytics to show how firms that use ecommerce engage in trade, what the constraints to domestic and cross-border ecommerce are in the region, and what digital, trade, and technology policies Latin America governments should pursue to advance ecommerce in the region.

How Blockchain Is Transforming Latin America’s Trade

November 21, 2018

Nextrade's new policy brief for the Inter-American Development Bank's INTAL describes blockchain use cases in the LAC region and policies to expand the use of blockchain in the region's trade. 

Optimizing digital regulations for trade in Mercosur - Policy report for IDB

January 01, 2020

What digital regulations should Mercosur nations adopt to enable regional digital trade? How should they work together to align digital regulatory frameworks and avert regulatory fragmentation? Nextrade's report for the Inter-America Development Bank explains.  

Women-led firms on the web: they may outperform

January 01, 2020

Supporting women-led firms has become a major tenet of the UN Sustainable Development Goals  and a major focus also for the international trade policy community. But there is very little research to date on how women-led firms actually do as exporters or as online sellers. This Nextrade analysis opens the curtain on how women-led firms in Asia ad Africa use ecommerce, and how women's performance as ecommerce sellers compares to that of men-led firms.  

New book: Revolutionizing World Trade: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunity for All

December 31, 2018

Nextrade Group CEO Kati Suominen will publish her 10th book, Revolutionizing World Trade: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunity for All, with Stanford University Press in 2019. Revolutionizing World Trade argues that the paradigm of globalization that has shaped thousands of trade policy decisions, business investments and aid allocations in the past 30 years is radically transforming The coming wave of globalization can be the most prosperous and dynamic wave yet - if governments put in place the right policies and transform legacy institutions. This book shines a light on the clash between an emerging wave of possibilities and outdated policies that arrest it, and develops a bold policy agenda for governments and aid agencies to follow, to create an era of globalization for all. 

Closing in on the Holy Grail of World Trade: Blockchain to Boost Southeast Asian trade

October 01, 2018

Blockchain is "on fire" in Southeast Asia, where it is applied widely across these areas to streamline the region's trade. In this analysis for the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, Nextrade assesses how Southeast Asian companies and economies are using blockchain in trade and what the region needs to do, to take greater advantage of blockchain.

Nextrade Data Lab ideates new datasets on ecommerce, digitization, platform-enabled trade, smart ports

July 10, 2019

Governments and leading companies are tremendously hungry for deeper understanding of digitization and the best policy mixes to boost and leverage it for trade, growth and productivity. Our response: Nextrade Data Lab that ideates, produces, and markets new data and critical insight on the global digital economy. See our selected products here.

Freeing Billions of Bits: Defining the post-Brexit U.S.-UK Digital Trade Relationship - analysis with CSIS, Institute of Directors, Google

December 27, 2018

In this forthcoming report, Nextrade CEO, the Europe Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the London-based Institute of Directors to define the contours of the U.S.-UK digital trade relationship and eventual U.S.-UK free trade agreement as the UK "Brexits" from the EU.

Turning emerging technologies into Tradetech to streamline Latin American companies shipping and trade finance - use cases for IDB

December 26, 2018

Ecommerce, blockchain, artificial intelligence and internet of things applications are revolutionizing Latin America companies' opportunities to make, move, and market their goods and services worldwide. In this set of background analyses for the Inter-American Development Bank's 2019 flagship annual report Development in the Americas, Nextrade details how the LAC region's ports, postal services, customs, banks, and FinTechs are leveraging new technologies to enable regional companies trade. 

May 01, 2017

Ecommerce is reshaping the patterns, players, and possibilities of international trade. It is opening new trade opportunities for companies of all sizes and across sectors. Yet numerous challenges need to be overcome for digitization to translate into trade and growth gains especially in developing countries, such as poor Internet connectivity, populations’ limited digital skills, logistics and market access bottlenecks specific to ecommerce shipments, and digital policy and regulatory issues.

Lack of systematic and actionable data on key ecommerce-specific policy issues and the severity of challenges facing online traders  complicates developing countries and aid agencies’ design and prioritization of public policies and investments in ecommerce development. Our new Ecommerce Development Survey and Index Nextrade created for USAID by Nextrade Group fills this gap. More data for more countries will be produced in 2018 with funding from World Bank.

Bolstering Digital Trade in Latin America: New Nextrade Report

February 01, 2017

The Internet has opened tremendous new opportunities for LAC economies to become more productive, expand opportunities for entrepreneurship, and drive inclusive economic growth. However, there is little data and mostly only anecdotal evidence on the power of the Internet on trade in the LAC region. Data on the barriers to digital trade in the region are lacking, and as are fresh ideas on policies to unlock digital trade. This curtails regional policymakers’ ability to make informed policy choices.


The purpose of this Nextrade Group report for the Inter-American Development Bank is to start filling these knowledge gaps so as to more effectively drive digital trade in Latin America.

Fuelling Digital Trade in Mercosur: A Policy Roadmap for the IDB

December 01, 2017

Getting digital regulations right in Mercosur is crucial for the region's companies to be able to engage in cross-border ecommerce and regionalize. Supported by IADB, we created a data-driven analysis of the state of digital trade in the region, and a regulatory roadmap for the region's policymakers to unlock digital trade.

Leveraging Digital Trade Boom in Southeast Asia

December 03, 2017

Digital trade has skyrocketed in Southeast Asia in the past decade. The region has a great opportunity to build on its successes - but that will take work in ironing out its deep digital divides, arcane customs procedures, and other challenges. This overview prepared for the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development offers a roadmap.

What Should US-UK Digital Trade Deal Look Like?

December 04, 2017

We are excited to be part of thinking about a U.S.-UK digital trade deal, with colleagues at Center for Strategic and International Studies. Check out our CEO's blogs here.

Free Trade for Small Business - Plurilateral on De Minimis

April 24, 2017

For governments seeking to harness the promise of ecommerce to catalyze entrepreneurship, small business exports, and job-creation in their economies, unburdening small online sellers from arcane customs procedures and duties should be a top priority. The quick-fix is to raise de minimis levels – the maximum value of an import that is exempt from customs duties, taxes, and formal customs procedures. High de minimis is pure free trade for small business. This new report  turns this lousy equation around: a plurilateral agreement on de minimis among a coalition of countries that want to free their small business exporters from frictions in their key export markets. The version for Asia is forthcoming with ADB.

How to Accelerate Digital Trade in Developing Countries? Policy Report

July 14, 2017

Disruptive technologies are revolutionizing the economics of global production and trade, and the prospects of developing countries in the global economy. However, the gains from digitization to trade and growth are not automatic. Trade policymakers need to rethink the entire set of tools to drive trade – design of trade rules, export promotion, trade facilitation, export credit, and trade infrastructures. The purpose of this Nextrade report, prepared for the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, is to show how.

Public-private Priorities for Aid for Trade in the Digital Era - Nextrade analysis for WTO's Aid for Trade

July 11, 2017

Ecommerce is breaking the “iron law” of international trade – that exporting was possible only for a few. In 21st century digital economy lies an opportunity for creating a medieval town square where buyers and sellers come together – at the global level. A market where anyone can sell to anyone, anywhere anytime, and where no-one is hampered by their location from participating. Yet the gaps in data on private sector views and systematic public-private collaboration limit developing countries ability to fuel digital trade – to prioritize policy choices and investments in digitization and e-Commerce, or to build on the private sector’s ongoing work to boost connectivity, fuel logistics, and indeed, to create entirely new ecommerce markets. This report shows how to overcome these challenges.

How Digitized Is the U.S. Middle Market? Analytics for Magento

January 30, 2016

Digitization is essential to sustainable growth among firms of all sizes. Middle market companies, a key engine of growth and jobs in the U.S. economy, can leverage digitization to streamline operations, cut costs, connect to new markets, manage customer relations, and make real-time improvements. This report advances our understanding of how middle market companies view digitization, of the success drivers for digitization in the middle market, and of best practices for middle market executives looking to gain an edge.

Driving Investments in Digital Trade in Asia-Pacific

July 01, 2015

In Asia and the Pacific, firms are moving online, joining value chains, and going niche. Aid for Trade supports these efforts by building the physical infrastructure for trade, and increasingly, through trade facilitation spending.  High trade costs persist in some regions and inclusiveness continues to be a challenge. This report considers how to build from established Aid for Trade spending on Information and communications technology (ICT) and infrastructure connectivity.

Using Social Impact Bonds to Turbocharge Ecommerce Development

November 30, 2017

An idea whose time has come: using social impact bonds to fuel ecommerce development - and create triple bottom line returns. This article first appeared in GE Reports. See also our paper on it.

Digital Trade as Regional Public Good

July 05, 2016

Nextrade CEO contributed a chapter on digitization as regional public good in this edited volume by Lou Goodman and Antoni Estavadeordal. By presenting a new and original data set and by presenting original essays by renowned scholars, this book lays the foundation for what will become an increasingly important focus for both economic development and international relations as well as for their intersection.

Innovating Global Trade Architecture: "RTA Exchange"

January 01, 2014

Though regional trade agreements are emerging as the center of gravity in global commerce, there is no one instance that would systematically bring together all relevant information on RTAs around the world, let alone encourage dialogue and sharing of experiences among the various stakeholders interested in RTAs, such as policymakers, think-tanks and private sector leaders. Nextrade is changing this. In 2013, our CEO conceptualized, as a chair of the RTA group of the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and World Economic Forum's E15 initiative, the "RTA Exchange", a first-in-class global clearing house of information on RTAs. RTA Exchange was unveiled by a global consortium (Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank Institute, and ICTSD) at the World Trade Organization ministerial meetings in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013.

Winning in the Americas - Report on Middle Market Companies Trade

September 01, 2016

While many U.S. middle market companies are actively trading with the Americas, little is known about their performance, future plans, or lessons learned. This report by Nextrade Group and National Center for the Middle Market for Fedex helps fill that gap and:

  • Pioneers in mapping the middle market’s existing trade and investment relations in the Americas and globally

  • Analyzes the risks and opportunities that middle market leaders perceive in the Americas

  • Identifies gaps in policy and access to financial and other support that hold back the middle market

  • Outlines strategies that executives can follow to win more business in the Americas

Book - SME Trade in Latin America and the Caribbean

January 01, 2015

Nations around the world have identified exports as a key growth lever. For Latin American and Caribbean, this priority is no different. Regional policymakers are particularly acutely aware of the potential of regional small and mid-size companies for export-led growth, increased productivity, economic diversification, and job-creation: so far, only 13 percent of LAC SMEs export. This Nextrade flagship report prepared by Reena Gordon and Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen for the Inter-American Development Bank analyzes the state and challenges of SME internationalization in the LAC region, and offers practical recommendations for policymakers, companies, and practitioners to accelerate regional SME internationalization.

Report for Davos: Future of Regional Trade Agreements

January 20, 2016

The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos featured a launch of a report by Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen, "Enhancing Coherence and Inclusiveness in the Global Trading System in the Era of Regionalism." The report is the result of a collective process involving all members of the E15 Expert Group on Regional Trade Agreements and Plurilateral Approaches organized by the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the World Economic Forum and chaired by Suominen.

"Trusted eTrader" Program to Facilitate Small Business Ecommerce

April 14, 2015

On April 24, 2015, Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen presented a policy paper  "Fueling the Online Trade Revolution: A New Customs Security Framework for Secure and Facilitate Small Business eCommerce" at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) in Washington. . The report proposes an 18-month pilot program “eTrade Track,” a comprehensive initiative run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to secure and fuel small business and online trade. The event also featured a keynote by Devin Wenig, President of eBay Global Marketplaces.

Rethinking Export Finance - State Governments, Time to Stand Up

July 01, 2015

State governments can have an important role to play in improving SME access to export financing. This policy brief prepared by Nextrade CEO Kati Suominen with Jessica Lee for the Brookings Institute argues that states can draw on three complementary approaches to address the SME export financing shortfall:

  • Raise awareness among SMEs and financial institutions regarding the various instruments and sources of export financing that are currently available

  • Adopt additional financial instruments to alleviate financial constraints for SMEs interested in global trade

  • Create new finance entities to improve SME access to export financing

November 01, 2014

This idea paper presented by Nextrade CEO on new, coherentAid for eTrade” initiative to accelerate the development of ecommerce in developing countries became, less than two years later, the global flagship initiative led by the UN, "eTrade for All."

Want Integrate Africa? Bring in the Private Sector

September 04, 2013

African nations have stepped up efforts to deepen regional economic and trade integration, including to further the engagement of regional business leaders in the integration process. International experiences in Europe, the Americas, and East Asia can be highly instructive for Africa on ways to structure private sector engagement in the design, implementation, and monitoring of regional integration commitments. Nextrade Group CEO partnered with the Carana Corporation to prepare an extensive technical discussion paper for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on ways the African Union could best structure a business council to support the AU’s Action Plan. The executive summary follows.

Please reload


Corporate Digital Identity to Enable MSMEs in Ecommerce

Trust has for centuries been critical also for international trade. Ecommerce has helped build trust by enabling the buyer to access customer reviews, secure payments, and dispute resolution mechanisms. Yet the vexing problem of lack of trust remains also online: how does the buyer at the other end of an online transaction know that the seller is who it says it is, and vice versa? This forthcoming white paper discusses corporate digital identity as a means to promote trust and enable MSME ecommerce.


White paper on MSME ecommerce in Africa

Keep your clients up to date with what's happening. To make this content your own, just add your images, text and links, or connect to data from your collection.

shutterstock_1155740758 (1)_edited.jpg

White paper om MSME eCommerce in Africa

Keep your clients up to date with what's happening. To make this content your own, just add your images, text and links, or connect to data from your collection.

Financial technology concept. Stock char


Keep your clients up to date with what's happening. To make this content your own, just add your images, text and links, or connect to data from your collection.

City lights on world map. Europe. Elemen


Keep your clients up to date with what's happening. To make this content your own, just add your images, text and links, or connect to data from your collection.

Shanghai City Scenery big data.jpg


Keep your clients up to date with what's happening. To make this content your own, just add your images, text and links, or connect to data from your collection.

bottom of page