Research - 29.06.2022 - 00:00 

29th Global Trade Alert: governments are flying blind

New report indicates that a lack of international cooperation in the digital domain severely threatens an economic global recovery from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

29 June 2022. The 29th Global Trade Alert report from Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz indicates that there is an overwhelming need for a global strategy in digital regulation. Because things like supply chains are all based on digital communication, continuing to operate without a coordinated strategy threatens to hamper international recovery from recent global challenges.

In their view, governments need to coordinate efforts at the WTO or in alliances of like-minded countries. The last inventory of government intervention affecting this critical vehicle for opportunity and growth was published four years ago and much has happened since.

This report fills in the evidence gap – drawing upon 3,000 records of regulatory policy developments and over 12,000 records of commercial policy interventions affecting “digital economy sectors”. No international organisation has a global mandate to collect such information.

This report demonstrates that the digital domain is fragmenting along national and regional lines, and policy incoherence is leading to a fragmented internet. A disjointed global digital economy will deny users choice, diminish incentives for innovation and exacerbate trade tensions between governments.

However, progress can be made. For example, aligning digital policies is an important part of the recently announced Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. It is also central to the activities of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council and the Asia-Pacific Economic cooperation.

The most recent WTO Ministerial Conference showed how close we were to moving backwards on digital trade. The WTO barely extended a Moratorium for tariffs on "electronic transmissions" earlier this month. Evenett and Fritz published an article in favour of the Moratorium, claiming that the study was disingenuous.

For the first time, this report reflects the work of both the Global Trade Alert (GTA) and the Digital Policy Alert (DPA) from the University of St.Gallen.

Since 2009, the Global Trade Alert (GTA) has become a widely-used source for analysis and decision-making by G20 Summits, the WTO, industry associations, journalists, researchers, international organisations, and governments. In 2016, the International Monetary Fund noted, the GTA “has the most comprehensive coverage of all types of trade-discriminatory and trade liberalizing measures.” Since 2021, the GTA has become a part of the charitable foundation the St.Gallen Endowment for Prosperity through Trade (SGEPT).

Image: Global Trade Alert (Report)

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