Although digital trade is growing exponentially internationally, the “regulatory restrictions on international digital trade are growing equally, if not more, rapidly” (Lovelock, 2020). WTO rules are much needed to limit these restrictions on digital trade by drawing agreed lines that clarify which restrictions are appropriate and which are not.
After more than 20 years of unsuccessful negotiations, WTO member countries may be able to agree on global digital trade rules if they look to the new Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) among Chile, New Zealand and Singapore as a model.
As the first 'digital only' trade agreement, the DEPA offers a modular approach that allows members to pick and choose which modules work best for them today while enabling them to adopt more legal commitments on digital trade in the future. As cross-border trade becomes increasingly digital, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the free movement of goods and services is essential to the global economy.