Addressing Global Challenges Through Trade Automation

Streamlining Global Trade

How can standards help the world address the challenges of climate change, conflict minerals, and abuses of labor forces? OASIS members are answering that question with OriginBX.

The Problem

Free trade and the efficient flow of goods across international borders is something that a lot of us take for granted.  Our collective society is built on the assumption that we can effectively buy finished goods or raw materials from a variety of countries, as well as trade or sell our own goods.

However, the seemingly simple act of buying or selling these goods across borders isn’t as straightforward as you might think.  There are an increasingly complex set of requirements put in place by both governments and other organizations designed to protect consumers, producers and labor forces from abuse.  At the heart of these requirements is a need to accurately identify the country or countries of origin for both finished goods and also raw materials used to produce those goods.

Despite the technological age we live in today, a vast majority of products and materials still have their countries of origin determined by manual processes involving emailing large bills of materials and PDF files between producers and regulatory bodies worldwide.  An enterprising group of technologists and companies has gotten together to do something about that.

Finding Creative Solutions

On a recent episode of Open Matters, I was joined by Todd Smith of, who is also the chairperson for a new Open Project here at OASIS called OriginBX, which is designed to help build common standards to allow for greater automation in identifying countries of origin for manufactured goods and their components.  Todd has spent more than 20 years working on this problem at places like Ernst & Young and KPMG, and our conversation was a fascinating one in that it covered not only the technical needs for a project like this, but also the larger role that country of origin plays in helping fight societal issues like climate change, conflict minerals, and abuses of labor forces.

Todd also speaks at length as to why he chose to come to OASIS to start this project and what our governance and community support model has done in helping him launch this effort.

Projects like OriginBX are one of the reasons I was excited to come to OASIS Open, where we strive to enable collaborative projects that make a difference not only in the technology space, but also in the lives of us all.  

I encourage you to watch and/or listen to this episode, and feel free to reach out to me directly or follow us on social media (@OASISOpen) to continue the conversation.