I&J convened

Published on
June 7, 2021

On June 24 at 15:00 - 16:00 CET the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network co-organized a webinar “Data Disrupts Trade: Exploring Innovative Solutions”  with the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI)"

The session addressed: 

- What makes addressing data flows so difficult in trade? 

- Why it's such a politically charged topic? 
- What makes it different to trading goods and services? 


- Vint Cerf, Co-inventor of the Internet and Vice-President, Google

- H.E. Ms. Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, Permanent Representative of the South African Mission to the WTO in Geneva 
- Lorrayne Porciuncula, Director of Data & Jurisdiction, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network
- Michael Kende, Senior Fellow and Visiting Lecturer, The Graduate Institute Geneva


- Richard Baldwin, Professor of International Economics, The Graduate Institute Geneva

Session description:

Policy makers, regulators and experts have been attempting for many years to agree on a common vocabulary and a set of rules to integrate data flows within trade frameworks. Despite the inclusion of data-related clauses (e.g. privacy, security, encryption, e-payments, consumer protection, data portability) in a select number of Free Trade Agreements, important divergences continue to exist among major state powers, particularly in the context of World Trade Organization negotiations. Meanwhile, many developing countries are still hesitant to position themselves in the digital trade debate. 

The impasse may lie on the fact that it is difficult to address data with traditional tools. Unlike resources such as oil or gold, data is neither finite nor naturally located in a particular geographic region. Data is context-dependent, multidimensional, prone to having blurred classification boundaries, and involves complex value chains with numerous intermediaries with increasingly diversified roles, which creates a serious obstacle to universal taxonomies and rules, including trade ones. The scope and depth of the current challenges demonstrate the limits of the existing frameworks. Significant innovation is therefore needed, regarding both the tools and the institutional mechanisms we rely on.

What stakeholders said at the event