24 Oct 2013
Should There Be New Multilateral Rules for Digital Trade?
Think piece for the E15 Expert Group on Trade and Innovation, 2013 by Mira Burri.
The Internet revolution and the digital environment have spurred a significant amount of innovative activity that has had spillover effects on many sectors of the economy. For a growing group of countries – both developed and developing – digital goods and services have become an important engine of economic growth and a clear priority in their future-oriented economic strategies. Neither the rapid technological developments associated with digitization, nor their increased societal significance have so far been reflected in international economic law in a comprehensive manner. The law of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular, has not reacted in any proactive manner. A pertinent question that arises is whether the WTO rules are still useful and able to accommodate the new digital economy or whether they have been rendered outdated and incapable of dealing with this important development? The present think-piece seeks answers to these questions and maps the key issues and challenges which the WTO faces. In appraisal of the current state of affairs, developments in venues other than the WTO, and proposals tabled by stakeholders, some recommendations for the ways forward are made.
Link to document.