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Teesside set to host ‘world-first’ digital trade centre

The North East will soon be home to a “world-first centre” dedicated to accelerating the digitalisation of international trade, it has been revealed.

The Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation will be based on Teesside.

Bosses say the site – co-ordinated by the International Chamber of Commerce UK and supported by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Tees Valley Combined Authority, industry and the Government – will remove barriers to growth.

They say digitalisation could cut costs by 80 per cent and generate £25 billion of SME export growth, with a single transaction said to presently involve as many as 27 documents and 35 agencies, creating as much as £80,000 in costs.

The centre marks a further boost for the south of the region, with Darlington already identified as the home for a new Government economic campus, which will be home to senior civil servants across a number of departments including the Treasury and the Department for International Trade.

Ben Houchen said: “To make sure our SMEs – the lifeblood of our economy – can feel the full benefit, helping them to grow and create jobs, we need to cut red tape.

“Digitalising trade, with a joined-up approach, will reduce these barriers and make it easier, faster and smoother than ever for them to do business.

“We’re delighted to be working alongside the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation and feeding into their work.

“It’s once again showing how our region is thinking outside of the box.”

Chris Southworth, secretary general at the International Chamber of Commerce UK, said: “The centre is an enormous milestone in making trade cheaper, faster, simpler and more sustainable.

“It will establish the capability we need to support the Government’s ambition to be a global leader on digital trade and help us transform the UK trading system.”

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade, added: “Digitalisation offers the prospect of huge benefits to traders and consumers.”