Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trade Rules and Their Limits: Internet Restrictions as Actionable Trade Barriers

From the abstract: "A number of legislative frameworks and policies exercise various constraints on access to the Internet for certain goods, services, and other content. Some of these are recognized by most, if not all market participants as legitimate (data protection laws, measures to combat fraud, as well as the enforcement of intellectual property rights), whereas others are seen as merely disguised protectionism (onerous and/or opaque registration or licensing rules and the heavy-handed application of censorship policies to name just two).

This paper discusses the use that is increasingly being contemplated or made of trade rules, particularly WTO disciplines, to tackle those constraints that are viewed as either disguised protectionism or a breach of WTO commitments. It discusses the scope of these rules, the uses they have been put to in order to pry open services markets up to now, and the likely limits of their application.

It also looks at how those interests most concerned with exporting goods and services via the internet have recognized the limits posed by existing trade rules - at least implicitly - and how they are seeking to address these shortcomings by drafting new rules, either at the WTO or in fora such as bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements."  Read more