The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) widens the scope and strengthens the enforcement of privacy standards. To protect privacy abroad, personal data is allowed out of the EU under strict conditions: if a non-EU country enacts privacy legislation equivalent to the GDPR, or if firms accept Binding Corporate Rules (BCR) or use Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC) for specific business deals. These conditions pose a challenge, particularly for developing countries. A GDPR-based national privacy law would impose the same high standard on all firms, even when they sell at home, leading to higher economy-wide costs of doing business. BCRs and SCCs have proved to be costly and time-consuming. While the GDPR may raise WTO issues, litigation cannot address the central challenge: preserving opportunities for digital trade while respecting countries’ chosen levels of privacy protection. An alternative approach would involve negotiating agreements under which data destination countries protect the privacy of foreign citizens in return for source countries committing not to restrict data flows, as in the EU–US Privacy Shield and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In parallel, and as a step toward multilateralizing these agreements, countries would develop common privacy principles, building upon the work in the OECD and APEC.
Les incitations fiscales en faveur de l’économie : analyse de conformité de mesures sectorielles à la Constitution fédérale, aux règles de l’Union européenne en matière d’aides d’État et aux règles de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce / Jérôme Marcel Bürgisser.
Several types of changes can take place between the conclusion of a treaty and when its provisions call for interpretation, e.g. changes in the political, social, historical or legal context; technological changes; linguistic changes; or changes in the law. Traditionally, interpreters refused to consider changes that may have occurred since the treaty’s conclusion. Today, many argue that it is more legitimate for a treaty interpreter to take account of these changes and use an ‘evolutionary’ or ‘dynamic’ interpretation. The issue of changes is particularly relevant in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Treaty, because it combines long-standing provisions with more recent ones, and because international trade has evolved greatly, notably with electronic trade (e-commerce) and new means of distribution that did not exist when the WTO was concluded. The different types of changes discussed in this article may be grouped into four non-mutually exclusive types of situations, which will be examined through the prism of the interpretation process set out in Articles 31-33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). While different types of evolutionary interpretations can be considered under standard rules of interpretation in public international law, the use of the term ‘evolutionary interpretation’ allows for a more global understanding of the phenomenon, and might have, at the very least, a symbolic value.
This is the question posed and addressed by the latest WTO publication, launched 27 November 2018. The publication examines how the technology of blockchain could be beneficial or transformative in various areas of trade related to the work of WTO.
World Trade Report 2018: The Future of World Trade: How Digital Technologies Are Transforming Global Commerce “examines how the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and blockchain are transforming global commerce today and are likely to impact it further in the years to come. [The report] provides an economic analysis of the different ways in which these digital technologies affect international trade and tries to quantify the extent to which global trade may be affected in the next fifteen years. It also examines the consequences of this transformation of international trade for existing and future international trade co-operation.”
The session was livestreamed and featured opening remarks from DG Roberto Azevêdo, followed by a panel discussion with Abdoullah Cisse, Caroline Freund, and Susan Lund, moderated by Robert Koopman.
The report “shows that digital technologies are likely to further reduce trade costs and boost trade significantly, especially in services and for developing countries” and discusses how digital technologies can unlock savings and will significantly affect what the world trades. The report also features, for the first time, opinion pieces from external contributors, sharing their independent perspectives on what lies ahead in the future of world trade.
More information on this publication can be found in the press release here.
To learn more about the availability of this year’s and past editions of World Trade Report through the WTO Library, in print and electronic formats, visit the publication’s record in the WTO Library catalogue.
New OECD publications have been uploaded to the OECD iLibrary, a comprehensive digital repository of books, papers, and statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Titles recently added include:
In anticipation of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11), several developing country Members submitted proposals reflecting concerns related with e-commerce and the continued involvement of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in cross-border e-commerce. Some developing countries perceive the booming significance of MSMEs as an opportunity to further enhance their economic relevance by incorporating them into e-commerce. The increase of MSMEs in e-commerce has also been reflected by the International Trade Centre (ITC). In one of the ITC’s most recent surveys conducted on 2262 firms, the statistics indicated that of the firms that engage solely in cross-border e-commerce, 82% are MSMEs. Notwithstanding these significant changes on the ground, Members have differed significantly in their views since 1998 concerning the e-commerce agenda. This has created considerable inroads in defining what e-commerce is as well as the rules that should regulate e-commerce. More recently, the e-commerce dialogue has reflected concerns on how the WTO could potentially deal with the rapid inclusion of MSMEs in the market through e-commerce. Although all companies face red tape in cross-border trade, due to size and financial constraints, MSMEs in developing countries face the most challenges in cross-border e-commerce. Many of these problems are related to the cross-border delivery of goods, the after-sales services as well as limited cross-border de minimis exemptions that discourages MSMEs from e-trading. Therefore, several Members consider that it is vital to continue to work on trade facilitation matters, especially those that are forward looking and can better assist MSMEs to better integrate into the e-commerce world. This article adopts two specific discussion points based on the proposals submitted by different Members for the WTO MC11 suggesting ways to move forward. First, using case studies from different countries, the article will focus on some of the challenges faced by MSMEs in developing countries, such as inefficient customs administration which is a result of issues related to cross-border trade. Part of this discussion will also assess how developing countries can use the recently agreed TFA to address these issues. The second part of the article will focus on how current provisions in the TFA as well as other forward looking trade facilitation efforts that are not reflected in the agreement, can help MSMEs to benefit from cross-border e-commerce. In relation to this part of the discussion, an exploration of the possibilities of technical assistance and capacity building that is e-commerce relevant would thus be necessary. Finally the article will conclude, highlighting limitations associated with the recommendations given.