Ref. Ares(2016)2512021 - 31/05/2016
Ref. Ares(2018)213071 - 12/01/2018
GLOBAL INDUSTRY URGES TRADE MINISTERS TO ADVANCE A
DIGITAL TRADE AGENDA IN TiSA NEGOTIATIONS
Industry associations from around the world representing a multitude of sectors urge the
Trade Ministers gathering in Paris, France, on the 1st of June 2016, for the next Trade in
Services (TiSA) Ministerial, to advance a digital trade agenda in the ongoing negotiations in
order to combat the increasing trend of digital protectionism.
The promotion and preservation of internet openness and cross-border information flows
must be actioned as a matter of priority. Time is of the essence if we are to leverage the
momentum of recent significant developments. The Trans-Pacific Partnership which
includes, for the first time, comprehensive trade arrangements in support of Internet and
digital services was concluded on 15 October 2015. In Nairobi, Kenya, expansion of the
Information Technology Agreement (ITA II) was agreed in December 2015. After the second
edition in twenty years time of the G7 ICT Ministerial in Takamatsu, Japan, last April and
ahead of the G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou, China where the digital economy will
occupy a strategic place on the agenda, it is imperative that this forum further advance the
global digital trade agenda.
Digital trade is the new sea lanes and containers of trade. Trade is no longer possible without
the flow of data and digitally deliverable services. Today’s world is entering in a new era of
digital globalisation and innovation. The Internet is transforming how the world trades whilst
similtaneously, boosting trade growth.
Despite recognising the strategic importance of digital trade, many WTO countries,
paradoxically, are now requiring or promoting the localisation of data and information, and
therefore digital goods and services. Such moves undermine the concept of modern digital
trade. Recent studies indicate this trend raises costs for local firms, curtails economic growth,
harms productivity in numerous sectors, and creates inefficiencies in global value chains.
The WTO must challenge this trend of digital protectionism.
Global openness in the areas of telecoms and e-commerce and pressure against localisation
is needed for WTO members to seize the opportunities of the Internet. If WTO members
desire to seize the opportunities of the Internet, they must develop ambitious new disciplines
related to telecoms, e-commerce and combating forced localisation. This approach would not
prevent WTO members from pursuing legitimate public policy objectives such as national
security, cybersecurity, consumer protection and privacy policies - as stated in the Article 14
of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). With this fundamental
understanding, negotiations should proceed
The upcoming meeting in Paris provides an opportunity for Trade Ministers to elevate digital
trade as a global economic priority at the WTO – together with other international institutions
such as the G7, G20, APEC, and OECD. Ministers are urgently encouraged to strongly
support new trade disciplines in TiSA to combat digital protectionism which is recognised as
one of the biggest threats for 21st century trade.
TiSA Members, all sharing a like-minded vision for the future of world trade, must lead by
example. The world’s largest advanced economies must resist measures that isolate their
own markets through forced localisation policies and actively work to encourage other
governments to do likewise.
For more information, please contact: Australian Information Industry Association (
Australia), Suzanne Roche, General Manager Policy
& Advocacy, [Emailadresse]; Asian Trade Centre
(Singapore), Caroline Verley, Deputy Director, [Emailadresse]; Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce
(Colombia), Diego Mauricio Peñaloza Castro,
Lawyer, [Emailadresse]; DIGITALEUROPE
(Europe), Diane Mievis, Senior Manager, [Emailadresse]; Federation of Korean Information Industries
(South Korea), Grant Son, Manager, [Emailadresse]; Information Service Industry Association of R.O.C
(Taiwan), Yvonne Chiu, Chairman,
[Emailadresse]; Information Technology Industry
(United States), Edward Brzytwa, Director Global policy,
[Emailadresse]; Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association
(Japan), Akiko Harada,
Deputy Manager, [Emailadresse]; Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association
(Japan), Junko Kawauchi, Vice
President Global Affairs, [Emailadresse]; New Zealand Technology Industry Association
(New Zealand), Graeme Muller, Chief Executive,
[Emailadresse]; World Information Technology and Services Alliance
(Global), Anders Halvorsen, Vice President
Global Public Policy, [Emailadresse].