It has become increasingly clear that the absence of global approaches to digital trade is leading to uncertainty and higher costs for businesses and consumers, DDG González said at a roundtable organized by the Business Council for International Understanding and Google on 12 October. She called for more international cooperation to ensure that digitalization creates new trade opportunities, reduces costs and makes trade processes faster and easier for the benefit of all countries.
DDG González noted that digitalization is a golden opportunity for businesses around the world to become more integrated into global value chains. “Digital trade allows business to tap into new markets at lower cost and acquire better technologies and managerial capabilities by becoming part of global production networks,” she said.
“To turn the huge potential of digital trade into tangible benefits, governments must deploy the right policies, including policies to build trust and confidence in the digital economy and help mobilize the massive investments needed to expand the digital economy and shrink the digital divide,” DDG González said. “We have many best practices from which governments can learn.”
“But domestic policies are just one part of the equation,” she said, adding that “we must also intensify work to develop and strengthen international standards, norms and rules to build a truly global and inclusive digital economy that benefits all, including small and women-owned businesses and least developed countries.”
DDG González drew attention to the WTO’s work on digital trade. She highlighted the decision at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference last June to extend a longstanding ban on customs duties on electronic transmissions, ongoing negotiations on global rules on electronic commerce among 87 WTO members and policy deliberations in WTO committees on the trade aspects of a wide range of digital issues, from autonomous vehicles and drones to cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. “Look closely and you will find that digitalization increasingly permeates all areas of WTO work,” she said.
DDG González concluded by calling on the business community to support efforts in the WTO to promote digital trade opportunities, adding that “business engagement is essential to ensure that our activities have real-world impact and can act as a force-multiplier in harnessing the full power of digital trade”.