A Single Digital Trade Discussion Framework

Have your say

Moving The Agenda Forward

At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, 70 countries agreed to work together on digital trade rules, and began negotiating in earnest in 2018 in the Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce. As part of the response to this very welcome development, the global business community created the Digital Trade Network.

DTN is the specialised, expert global business voice to the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Trade Centre (ITC) and UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on digital economy policy.

WTO missions are often small and almost all lack digital trade expertise. They need access to experts from the business world to unpack the nuances of complex issues, and a trusted interlocutor on a day-to-day basis to help them understand industry’s digital trade priorities and to explain how issues like intermediaries, financial services, platforms, and data flows relate to their existing national priorities.

Digital trade impacts all companies in all sectors so dialogue and engagement can be fragmented. Having a focal point within the Geneva community benefits all of industry.

Voices opposed to new digital trade rules are well-resourced, well organised and highly visible. A number of Geneva based NGOs have several full-time staff dedicated to an anti-business message putting industry at a significant disadvantage with policy makers – without a countering voice.

WHAT DTN DOES:

  • Provide advice for industry on how to better impact Geneva based policy makers.
  • Advise and support WTO Missions on industry’s digital trade interests using a locally-tailored ‘voice’.
  • Report back on WTO Member discussions, improving industry intelligence.
  • Help align capital-global advocacy activities and improve advocacy impact.
  • Make it easier for business delegates who visit Geneva to understand who the digital trade champions are and which delegations still need persuading, to improve advocacy impact.

Aims & Objectives

The immediate objective is to quickly build on the agreement at the 2017 WTO Ministerial Conference and consolidate support for a multilateral agreement,
or if that proves impossible, a broad-based plurilateral agreement, with the scope of the negotiations defined by mid-2019.
Activities in 2018 will build the foundation that makes this possible. Objectives include:

1

GAIN AGREEMENT TO FOCUS WORK ON A THEMATIC BASIS
Structuring discussions around outcomes that matter to industry gives different sectors a way to affect outcomes and move towards clear commitments.

2

PROMOTE AN INCLUSIVE APPROACH
Recognising that WTO Members have diverse needs, but that many digital trade rules have common value for all Members.

3

EXPAND PARTICIPATION OF COUNTRIES IN KEY REGIONS SUCH AS AFRICA
To create the foundation of a truly global agreement.

4

BETTER ALIGNMENT OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY
Creating synergies between Geneva-related and capital-based advocacy efforts amplifies the effectiveness of both.

5

WORK WITH THE FRIENDS OF ECOMMERCE FOR DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
AS BRIDGES WITH OECD COUNTRIES

To enable countries to move at their own pace and bring more emerging markets into the discussion – and into negotiations.

Practical Activities Include

What Success Looks Like

Trusted Partners