Global Trading Web Association

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Based in Delaware and founded in Zurich, Switzerland in 2000, the Global Trading Web Association was the world's first commercial, international organization devoted to the development of worldwide business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce. The voluntary, non-profit organization was established by 23 major international corporations representing 15 nations, including India, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the United States. In addition to Commerce One, several leading international firms were among the association's signature members, including Deutsche Telekom; NTT Communications Corp.; Banco Nacional de Mexico; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Australia's Cable & Wireless Optus Ltd.; India's; Hong Kong's Asia2B; and Covisint, the major B2B portal established by the auto giants General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler. Individual members each claim one seat on the association's board. The organization was chartered to promote e-commerce alternatives to traditional B2B exchanges, and to lower trade barriers among nations, thereby facilitating the global online purchase and sale of goods and services.

The Internet procurement firm Commerce One launched the Global Trading Web as on online community for international B2B e-commerce in 1999, establishing industry-based trading portals to streamline transaction processes across industry lines and foster economies of scale for international businesses. Thus, any company that logs on to the Global Trading Web can connect with any e-marketplace under its umbrella anywhere in the world, allowing them entry into any connected market. The Global Trading Web Association aimed to capitalize on these portals and use them as a springboard for the development of international standards and technical harmony for B2B e-commerce.

The Global Trading Web Association's most distinguishing characteristic is that, unlike the myriad online business-to-business exchanges, it isn't restricted to one industry or region. Instead, it brings together companies representing several industries and remains open to expansion into new territories. Because of this, it has helped to facilitate international B2B e-commerce. The main ingredient that pushed the Global Trading Web a step above the existing electronic data interchange (EDI) networks was Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML is a hypertext meta-language allowing businesses to define types of data and employ a graphical interface. It also allows them to communicate effectively with each other across an array of networks and technology platforms.

The Global Trading Web culminated the efforts of Jay Tenenbaum, a former researcher in artificial intelligence, who in 1994 created CommerceNet, a nonprofit organization devoted to building e-commerce by encouraging companies to exchange data and collaborate on research. Tenenbaum's chief priority soon became discovering a way to expand on EDI networks, which exchanged online purchase orders within a particular industry. Tenenbaum sought to transcend industry barriers and facilitate all types of global B2B trading. His earlier efforts in this area included founding Enterprise Integration Technologies in 1989, which later diverged into Internet security. In 1992 Tenenbaum linked up with Tim Berners-Lee, who created the World Wide Web, as well as Marc Andreessen, who founded Netscape. In 1996 he met Bob Glushko, who later served as director of advanced technologies at Commerce One, and who told Tenenbaum about XML. Commerce One, which was already established as a major player in facilitating B2B e-commerce through its BuySite system, recognized that XML was quickly emerging as the B2B standard and found Tenenbaum's ideas appealing enough to bring him aboard in early 1999. This led to the opening of the Global Trading Web a few months later.

Whereas EDI networks are closed systems that are limited to certain kinds of data exchange, the Global Trading Web is promoted as a forum in which businesses across industry lines and national borders can not only engage in transactions, but also post price quotations for easy comparison shopping, and upload catalogs and other company documents. This created an international, cross-industry virtual community that acts as an umbrella for existing industry-based and regional communities. Additionally, the Global Trading Web is a portal to industry-specific and pan-industry regulatory and legal information.


Baldwin, Howard. "First Things First." . April 15, 2001. Available from

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Hirst, Clayton and Jason Nisse. "World's Top Firms Set to Launch Online Exchange." The Independent. July 30, 2000.

McCarthy, Jack. "Commerce One Unveils Global Trading Net." Network World. November 1, 1999.

Nairn, Geoffrey. "Pushing Towards A 'Global Trading Web."' Financial Times. October 20, 1999.

SEE ALSO: Andreessen, Marc; Berners-Lee, Tim; Business-to-Business (B2B) E-commerce; Electronic Data Interchange (EDI); Global Presence, Becoming a; Taxation and the Internet; XML

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Global Trading Web Association

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Global Trading Web Association