1 May 2015
The International Economic Law Framework for Digital Trade
A Working Paper by Mira Burri, which will be published in the Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht and presented at the Swiss Lawyers' Day 2015 in September in St. Gallen.
This is an attempt at a comprehensive analysis of the international economic law rules relevant for digital trade. At the core of this enquiry are the multilateral rules in the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It examines how they presently regulate digital trade, as well as where they have been challenged by newer technological advancement. The article maps the problematic issues and the proposals for tackling them. As legal adaptation has been protracted under the umbrella of the WTO, states have looked for solutions elsewhere, primarily in a number of bilateral and regional preferential trade agreements (PTAs). The article devotes therefore attention to the evolving body of law in PTAs and assesses its impact. Finally, the article evaluates the process of adaptation of international trade law and addresses broader governance questions of the efficacy of this adaptation and the adequacy of the chosen evolutionary path. It suggests ways in which states can position themselves as regulatory entrepreneurs and ensure that digital trade is not hindered while there is sufficient room for the protection of important public interests.