WEBCAST MAR 19 – The WTO’s Digital Trade Negotiations in the Wake of its 13th Ministerial Conference

ISOC LIVEOn Tuesday March 19, 2024, at 11:00-12:30 EDT (15:00-16:30 UTC), the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, as part of its Global Digital Governance series, presents a webinar ‘The WTO’s Digital Trade Negotiations in the Wake of its 13th Ministerial Conference‘.

The World Trade Organization is struggling to respond to the proliferation of national restrictions and trade barriers in the global digital economy. The largely failed 13th Ministerial Conference that concluded on March 2, 2024 barely managed in its last hour to extend the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions until 2026. The 90-member Joint Service Initiative launched in 2017 has been unable to finalize a negotiating text even after dropping or indefinitely pausing work on its most important but contentious issues. These include: barriers to cross-border data flows, forced data localization, forced disclosure of source code, the non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, and online platforms, among others. A key factor in this downsizing of ambitions was the US government’s extremely contentious October 2023 decision to reverse its longstanding push for strong disciplines on such items. If the negotiations ultimately produce a result, it may be more the kind of minimalist trade facilitation agreement favored by China rather than the sort of ambitious liberalization deal previously championed by the United States.

What are the prospects for global digital trade negotiations in the years ahead? What would a minimalist outcome mean for the growth of territorial borders on global flows, and Internet fragmentation? Would the sidelining of inclusive multilateral institutions further strengthen the trend toward a spaghetti bowl of varying minilateral trade deals that exclude much of the developing world? Is a sharper geopolitical clash between diverging models of digital capitalism becoming likely?

This webinar assembles a panel of leading experts on global digital trade policy to consider these and other questions. As always, the panelists’ conversation will be followed by an open dialogue among all webinar participants.

The session is simulcast live under the auspices of the Internet Society New York Chapter (ISOC-NY).

Eli Noam, Director, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia Business School.

Mira Burri – Professor of International Economic and Internet Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lucerne
Anupam Chander – Scott K. Ginsburg, Professor of Law and Technology, Georgetown Law School
Martina F. Ferracane – Research Fellow, European University Institute / Academic manager, Digital Trade Integration Project

William J. Drake, Director of International Studies, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

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