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Digital Trade Agreements UPSC NOTE

 Evolving dynamics of global digital trade United States' stance on digital trade agreements

  • The new geopolitical and geo-economic ideology was led by the United States, home to most of the world’s Big Tech. 

  • It first sought to redefine development through the field of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development).

  •  Then herald a new dawn for democracy globally, most characterised by colour revolutions in East Europe and the so-called Arab Spring.

Prempting digital regulation

  • Behind it all of course was a new plan to employ the global reach of digital tentacles, and later data-enabled controls, for economic expansionism. 

  • Some called it digital colonisation, due to its extractive nature. 

  • The U.S. thereby sought to prempt alarmed national regimes from reconstructing boundaries to contain digital globalisation. 

  • It devised a set of digital trade proposals seeking binding commitments from countries to essentially prevent any effective future regulation of Big Tech. 

  • Digital trade proposals have been the hottest agenda at various plurilateral trade negotiations and at WTO.

  • Countries such as India and South Africa, and some other developing ones, have stoutly resisted the U.S.-driven digital trade agreements juggernaut.

  • In the circumstances, the world was shocked to hear the U.S. withdraw, in late October, from its centerpiece digital trade positions at the WTO .

  • The declaration represents a watershed moment about how the global digital economy and society will evolve going forward. 

Why U.S. withdrawal from its digital trade positions

The US withdrew from its digital trade positions in reasons including:

  • To give Congress room to regulate big tech firms. The Biden administration is concerned about the growing power of big tech firms and their potential to stifle competition and innovation. The administration believes that it needs more flexibility to regulate these firms without being constrained by international trade agreements.

  • To address concerns about data privacy and security. 

  • The US is increasingly concerned about the collection and use of personal data by tech firms. 

  • The administration believes that it needs to be able to protect the privacy and security of US citizens' data without being constrained by international trade agreements.

  • To level the playing field with foreign competitors. 

  • The US is concerned that some foreign countries are using digital trade rules to give their own tech firms an unfair advantage

  • The administration believes that it needs to be able to negotiate new digital trade rules that are fair and reciprocal.

  • The US withdrawal from its digital trade positions has been welcomed by some and criticized by others

  • Supporters of the withdrawal argue that it is necessary to protect US interests and to give the US government the flexibility it needs to regulate big tech firms and protect data privacy. 

  • Critics of the withdrawal argue that it will harm the US economy and weaken its position in the global digital trade market.

Opportunities for developing countries, like India

  • India should make the most of the new global consensus on the need for strong digital regulations to rein in Big Tech and manage AI, including through policies related to data, source code, and location of computing facilities. 

  • The U.S.’s statement is like abnegation by the king, with the EU already employing data and source code related laws.

  •  In its domestic regulation which are beginning to look quite contrary to its positions at global digital trade forums. 

  • Developing countries should grasp this opportunity with both hands to urgently shape new paradigms for national digital regulation.

  • At the same time, developing countries must stoutly resist a new trap of a digital Cold War, whereby they get bound into digital dependencies either with the U.S. or China. 

  • A new digital regulation paradigm should combine with strong digital industrial policies to bolster domestic digital industry

  • Countries should aim at creating globally open standards, open protocols, and open digital public infrastructures

  • All these together could mean complete and genuine global-scale interoperability

  • This would enable open global digital value chains, allowing easy switching across global digital trade partners , suppliers or consumers , whether from the U.S., China, or elsewhere.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Digital Trade Agreements UPSC NOTE
Digital Trade Agreements UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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