Addressing the Digital Divide in the Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce

From enabling issues to data and source code provisions

This paper examines the evolution of the "digital divide" concept, especially given the ongoing negotiations among a group of WTO members for new, binding e-commerce rules. This process is known as the Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce, which began in 2017 in the form of exploratory discussions. The authors also consider how the digital divide has been treated under the World Trade Organization's Work Programme on E-Commerce, launched in 1998.

By Leonila Guglya, Marilia Maciel on December 30, 2020

As an integral part of its analysis, the paper examines textual proposals raised under the current Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) negotiations, especially those submissions on data flows, data localization, and source code. The authors also consider how the digital divide is treated under meeting agendas and other key documents.

This material has been produced with funding by UK aid from the United Kingdom government. The Umbrella Grant is a project of the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) and is implemented by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, in consortium with CUTS International, GenevaBKP Economic Advisors; and InterAnalysis. This paper benefited from peer review, contributions, and editorial support from Yasmin Ismail (who also contributed substantive inputs), Soledad Leal Campos, Sofía Baliño, Susan Joekes, Rashmi Jose, Rashid S. Kaukab, and Julien Grollier, among others.

Views expressed in the publication are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect HM Government’s official positions or those of TAF2+.

CUTS International Geneva

Report details

Governance and Multilateral Agreements
Focus area
IISD and CUTS International, 2020