A WTO reform agenda

Data flows and international regulatory cooperation

Visitors are seen at Tokyo Game Show 2019 in Chiba, east of Tokyo, Japan, September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato - RC1ACC4760F0

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in need of reform, including new rules. While there is not yet a comprehensive reform agenda for the WTO, developing e-commerce rules should be seen as part of WTO reform in two respects.

First, the development of such rules will allow the WTO to demonstrate a capacity to remain relevant to the  challenges and opportunities governing international trade today. Second, many of the issues that need to be addressed in a comprehensive outcome on e-commerce would contribute to broader WTO reform.

This paper proposes, among other things, that the WTO become a platform that can enable increased regulatory cooperation and encourage good regulatory practice. Such a result is needed to overcome many of the current barriers to e-commerce. Success in the e-commerce context would also position the WTO to better address regulatory barriers to trade more broadly.