The world is changing with extraordinary rapidity, driven by many influences, including shifts in production and consumption patterns, continuing technological innovation, new ways of doing business and, of course, policy. The World Trade Report 2013 focuses on how trade is both a cause and an effect of change and looks into the factors shaping the future of world trade.
One of the most significant drivers of change is technology. Not only have revolutions in transport and communications transformed our world but new developments, such as 3D printing, and the continuing spread of information technology will continue to do so. Trade and foreign direct investment, together with a greater geographical spread of income growth and opportunity, will integrate a growing number of countries into more extensive international exchange. Higher incomes and larger populations will put new strains on both renewable and non-renewable resources, calling for careful resource management. Environmental issues will also call for increasing attention.
Economic and political institutions along with the interplay of cultural customs among countries all help to shape international cooperation, including in the trade field. The future of trade will also be affected by the extent to which politics and policies successfully address issues of growing social concern, such as the availability of jobs and persistent income inequality. These and other factors are all examined in the World Trade Report 2013.