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On the edge of the new digital cold war

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On the edge of the new digital cold war

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«Globalization is not over, but it is changing», begins a recent article published by Harvard Business Review which calls this new period “re-globalization”. We are in a new historical phase characterized by the increase in nationalism and geopolitical tension between countries. International competition is no longer played only on the economic and political front, but adds what the writer and geopolitician Ian Bremmer defines: «the technological order. Some call this tension: “digital cold war”.

In this war, in addition to the economy, technology will increasingly determine everyone’s ability to prevail. Data and artificial intelligence play a very strategic role and will become the driver of the next phase of re-globalization.

90% of the data produced in the last two years

Digital manufacturing is growing at a dizzying pace. Suffice it to say that 90% of the world‘s data was produced in the last two years. However, data is not only produced, but also exchanged. Let’s think about purchasing on an e-commerce site where we enter our personal information. Once provided, these are sent to a server which is often located in a different country from where we are. The OECD estimates that data exchange contributes $2.8 trillion to global GDP and will reach $11 trillion in 2025.

75% of the value of the data exchange will benefit agriculture, logistics, manufacturing, financial services and e-commerce. It is therefore increasingly clear that trade between countries is no longer limited only to products, but also to data. These have become an asset like physical goods with their own strategic value.

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Chinese e-commerce is worth almost a third of the world total

China’s 2022 cross-border e-commerce market size was about $306.3 billion, nearly a third of the world‘s total. China’s cross-border e-commerce is a new engine for the development of the country’s foreign trade. According to a Bocconi survey, in 2022 Italian products generated a turnover of 5.4 billion dollars on Alibaba’s B2C platforms, equivalent to around a third of Italian exports to China. From this it can be seen that the number of data collected by Italian companies in China is enormous and the export, exchange and management of data are now strongly linked.

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