Towards Coherent Rules for Digital Trade: Building on Efforts in Multilateral versus Preferential Trade Negotiations
NCCR working paper 2011/64 by Sacha Wunsch-Vincent and Arno Hold, forthcoming in M. Burri and T. Cottier (eds.), Trade Governance in the Digital Age (CUP 2011).
The rapid development of the Internet as well as of other information and communication technologies (ICT) has led to increased electronic cross-border delivery of services and digital products such as sound recordings, audiovisual works, video games, computer software and literary works. While regional trade agreements increasingly innovate as regards the incorporation of chapters on e-commerce, the cross-border delivery of services, and the inclusion of new Internet-related provisions on intellectual property rights in the online context, on the multilateral level, no substantial progress has been achieved since the end of the Uruguay Round. This paper reviews the progress made in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in securing liberal digital trade, understood as the electronic cross-border trade of services and digital products. Provisions that concern new IPR rules specific to digital trade are also looked into. Building on these enquiries and taking into account the complexity of the regulatory environment, the paper discusses what digital trade rules are needed today and in the future.