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Digital Trade Agreements in Asia and the Pacific


By Rodrigo Balbontin, Toni Friedman, Kati Suominen (Nextrade), Erica Vambell (Nextrade)

Digital trade agreements (DTAs) are instrumental in expanding the benefits of the digital economy in emerging Asia. Moreover, economies in Asia and the Pacific have been the key architects of trade rules for the digital era. DTAs set trade rules and economic collaboration in the digital economy and establish the minimum framework in which data and transactions are performed digitally among economies. For consumers and small and medium enterprises, these agreements enhance data protection measures and enable access to new markets.

This publication reviews the landscape of digital trade and digital economy agreements (DEAs) in Asia and the Pacific. First, it describes the coverage of the provisions of the DTAs and DEAs. Second, it describes the implementation and impacts of DTAs and DEAs.

Subsequently, the study analyzes the future evolution of DTAs and DEAs’ scope. There are three main reasons why their “anatomy” and contents are bound to evolve. First, Asia-Pacific economies are already adopting domestic policies that can have implications on digital trade and market access. The second driver of tomorrow’s digital regulations is business interest in new rules. A third component is the emergence of new stakeholders like content creators.

Finally, the study identifies trends looking ahead, such as the continued expansion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, calls by the United States private sector to promote trade rules conducive to the adoption of AI and cloud computing, and focused discussions among ASEAN Member States on the Digital Economy Framework Agreement.

Posted March 15, 2024
Related programs: Technology & Development
Related topics: ASEAN