The study of multinational companies found that of the 1,700 trade professionals surveyed, 53 per cent identified technology as the key to trade compliance issues.
The study also found the vast majority of trade and supply chain departments lack the systems and processes required to reduce complexity in classification, automate tasks and maximise incentives, demonstrating a serious gap, according to Thomson Reuters OneSource Global managing director Taneli Ruda.
“This reveals a serious disconnect between what trade professionals have and what they need to do their jobs effectively,” Mr Ruda said.
Crucially, the study linked these manual processes to reduced efficiency and increased risks, among them audits and loss of savings and opportunities.
Most global trade professionals anticipate more regulatory complexity, with 62 per cent of respondents assuming this will occur within the next three to five years.
An overwhelming 93 per cent regard the management of transfer pricing as a challenge, with 59 per cent identifying that their company lacks a formal process to align this with customer valuations.
Only 23 per cent believe their company is fully utilising free trade agreements, while just a third use a global trade management system, despite recognising the need for automation.
“[These] results speak of inefficiencies in operational practices across the global trade and supply chain functions. There are different degrees of impact when we look into the particulars of product classification, systems integration, process centralisation and free trade agreement utilisation; but they are all pointing at automation as pivotal to addressing those inefficiencies in order to contribute to the success of their businesses,” Mr Ruda explained.
KPMG senior partner Doug Zuvich said the results identify a real opportunity in the industry.
“The opportunity lies in improving the tools and methods that will enable efficiency gains in their global trade and supply chain management,” he said.