Governance of International Trade and the Internet: Existing and Evolving Regulatory Systems

Until recently, policy makers and businesses did not adequately focus on the significant overlap between Internet and trade governance, but with a large and increasing presence of the Internet in global trade and investment, there is a growing interest in examining the synergy or conflict arising between these issues. There is a need to identify trade rules and practices that are sufficient to deal with emerging issues, and the new trade rules, modes of common understanding and cooperative mechanisms that would be required as the Internet becomes a larger part of the trade and investment domain. An important part of this exercise is to examine the relevance and sufficiency of the regulatory provisions in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements as well as the emerging major free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This paper discusses these aspects as well as the new trade-related concerns that need to be addressed, including the difficulty of determining jurisdiction and rules of origin, the classification of products and relevant disciplines applicable to them, complications arising for competition policy and regulatory practices.