IT innovation to boost international trade

Border controls are necessary to secure our borders for terrorism and to safeguard the quality of our food and goods. However, the societal costs of these controls are also huge. Worldwide these border controls cause 40% of total delay time in international trade, add about 500 billion annually to the price of goods, and create serious traffic congestion problems in sea- and airport regions. IT innovation can drastically reduce these delays and societal costs of border controls. Trade uses IT for making their own business more efficient. New types of cloud computing can allow the Customs to look securely into these IT systems of the trade. Customs can then trust trade to become their own inspectors, and reduce the number of inspections at the border, and hence reduce the delay of international trade. Hence, this IT innovation makes international trade transport and logistics more efficient, secure and sustainable.

Ideas worth spreading

It’s important to make companies and governments more aware of the opportunities of IT innovation to make international trade more efficient, secure and sustainable. And to encourage them to do this innovation collaboratively in the so-called ‘golden triangle’ business-government-universities that is key to the success of innovation. The development of the IT innovation for international trade and logistics that we show in this presentation, could be an inspiring example how such a golden triangle business, government and universities can be created and operate successfully.


Yao-Hua Tan (place of birth: Amsterdam) is professor of Information and Communication Technology and head of the Engineering Systems and Services department of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management at Delft University of Technology, and part-time professor of Electronic Business at the Free University Amsterdam. He was also Reynolds visiting professor at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Yao-Hua Tan published five books and over 200 conference papers and journal articles. He was coordinator and scientific director of various EU-funded projects on IT innovation to facilitate international trade. He is vice-chair of innovation of the Committee on Trade of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe inGeneva, expert for the Evaluation Committee of the Customs Union of the European Commission and member of the Advisory Board for the Neutral Logistics Information Platform (NLIP) of the Topsector Logistiek.