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International Rules on Digital Trade: Formulation Path and Future Performance (No.305, 2021)

Dec 16,2021

By Zhang Qi, Chen Hongna & Luo Yuze, Research Department of Foreign Economic Relations, DRC

Research Report, No.305, 2021 (Total 6370) 2021-10-20

Abstract: Digital transformation has driven the rapid development of global digital trade, leading to changes in economic and trade pattern, profound adjustments of global industrial chain and supply chain and higher requirements for institutional environment and regulatory coordination. Digital trade rules have become an arena for reshaping international economic governance order and rebalancing power among various countries. The increased issues among talks cover both explicit ones directly related to digital trade and implicit ones inseparable from the digital governance environment. The platform and path for rule-making are becoming larger and wider, propelled by a diversified trend of multilateral, plurilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation, digital trade professional agreements, plus intergovernmental dialogue platforms. Apart from rapid progress on trade facilitation, the negotiations edged up slowly due to complex intertwined interests. Major economies hold big differences on different new issues such as cross-border data flow, electronic transmission tariff exemption and digital tax, protection of digital intellectual property rights and non-discriminatory treatment of digital products. It is advisable for various countries to take the basic stance of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and uphold the principle of openness and inclusiveness to seek common ground while shelving differences so as to accelerate the establishment of an international regulatory system for digital trade.

Keywords: digital trade rules, key issues, progress of negotiations, platform, path