England: Digital Protectionism, Trade and the WTO


In our recent report Protectionism 2.0: Digital forces driving the new protectionist agenda we highlighted how measures restricting data flows crucial to businesses pose as much a threat to international trade as cruder, traditional tools of trade protectionism. There is widespread consensus that the World Trade Organisation ("WTO") needs modernisation in order to tackle the challenges presented to free trade by both traditional and digital protectionism. Such reform is being considered against a backdrop of concern as to the viability of the WTO dispute resolution process and the use of such practices as forced technology transfers. In the UK, the WTO is now attracting attention as a 'fall back' proposition, should there be a 'no deal' Brexit. In this podcast, we aim to bring you up to speed with the latest developments in this area. We explore the UK's position at the WTO during the course of Brexit and beyond, and the possible outcomes for the rules-based multi-lateral trading system - addressing in particular the recent proposals for WTO reform proposed by the EU, Canada, India and others and what might happen as a result of the US rejecting these proposals. We also consider what this means for China in the context of the ongoing US-China "trade war".