This course aims to assist permanent missions and international organisations in Geneva to increase their knowledge and capacity to engage in digital commerce-related negotiations and discussions. It provides an interdisciplinary coverage of e-commerce, from both digital and trade perspectives. The course is offered by DiploFoundation (Diplo), CUTS International Geneva, the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP).
The course will benefit diplomats who follow digital trade negotiations on the multilateral and bilateral levels. While improving their knowledge of e-commerce, participants will also gain the practical skills and information required to discuss specific digital policy aspects, such as cross-border data flows, data localisation, cybersecurity, consumer protection and the implication of emerging technologies to digital trade, such as the Internet of Things and 3D printing. The course focuses in particular on digital trade negotiations and policy processes taking place in International Geneva.
Due to the blended learning course format which includes weekly face-to-face meetings, registration for this session of the Digital Commerce course is open only to applicants based in Geneva.
1. Global digital flows: Business models and technical enablers. We discuss the notion of global digital flows from a business and a technical perspective. We zoom in to understand how packets of data flow through the digital ‘pipes’ and arrive at their destination, identifying some bottlenecks and vulnerabilities in the digital logistic infrastructure that carries the global flows of online trade. We also examine some online business models which help to explain the soaring flows of data.
2. Digital economy: Economic policy issues of relevance for digital commerce. We consider the economic value of data and the aspects of the digital economy that impact on the development of e-commerce, including digital payment systems, taxation, competition and anti-monopoly policies. We analyse the impact of regulations on data localisation and on access to the source code.
3. Digital commerce in international organisations and regional trade agreements. More than half of the World Trade Organization (WTO) members have signed at least one regional trade agreement (RTA) that contains a standalone digital commerce provision. We analyse key digital commerce provisions in RTAs, as well as trade-related issues being addressed in regional integration initiatives in different parts of the world, including Asia-Pacific and Africa. We discuss the work of international and global organisations that contribute to shaping digital commerce.
4. Digital commerce discussions at the World Trade Organization. The WTO plays an important role in facilitating diplomatic talks about digital commerce within the framework of the multilateral trading system. We summarise the evolution of WTO discussions on digital commerce, including in the lead up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2019. We also analyse the plurilateral negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce taking place among some WTO members.
5. Digital commerce and Internet governance. We tackle the interplay between digital governance and trade policy by providing an overview of the inclusion of digital regulatory aspects in trade negotiations. We discuss trade-related aspects of policies in the fields of cybersecurity, encryption, privacy and data protection, and consumer protection.
Module 5 also includes an optional reading: Digital commerce: Emerging technologies and issues. Technology has already significantly transformed trade. We focus on four emerging technologies that revolutionise human activities, including digital commerce: the Internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.