The OECD hosted its annual Global Forum on Trade on October 22 in Paris, which focused on Trade in the Digital Era. The agenda included sessions on digital transformation and what it means for trade, measuring digital trade, digital trade and market openness, data flows, and discussing priorities for trade policy makers.
USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl participated in the event as a panelist in the session on data flows. Her fellow panelists included Deputy Assistant USTR for Telecommunications Policy Jonathan McHale, Head of Unit, Services, DG Trade Christophe Kiener, and Senior Policy Advisor, European Digital Rights Maryant Fernandez Perez. The session was moderated by OECD’s Julia Nielson, head of the emerging policy issues division. After a brief introduction from Nielson, OECD Trade Policy Analyst Javier Lopez Gonzalez set the scene by providing the audience with a short factual presentation on some of the key issues on data flows from a trade point of view.
“Free flow of data and information is critical for economic development and growth, and that data should be allowed to flow across borders in a secure manner,” said Hampl. “The free flow of data is now a central part of global value chains and a major requirement for a wide range of manufacturing and services industries. Consultation with business in the regulatory process is key in avoiding detrimental and counterproductive effects of problematic localization measures.”
“Looking forward, useful work in international forums includes continuing to address these issues in the G20, progressing the WTO E-Commerce initiative, and the OECD playing an important role not only in defining and quantifying these important issues, but also educating particularly non-OECD countries about the value of free data flows,” she added. Most of the panelists agreed that a fragmented approach is not sustainable.
The day-long event that focused on digital trade included engaged discussion in virtually every session, showing just how important this issue is to many countries. The OECD recognizes this issue as a key priority, and has several active work streams in this space.