(Dec 9): The new buzzword in global commerce is “digital trade”. And with new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain gaining traction, the chatter around getting global trading digitally enabled is getting louder. The rapid pace of technological change has made many current rules obsolete.

“Despite the cross-border consumer e-commerce market being projected to reach US$1 trillion ($1.36 trillion) by 2020, many rules governing digital trade date back to 1998, when only one in 32 people had access to the internet,” according to a World Economic Forum report. “Up to 76 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) — which collectively accounts for 90% of global trade — are discussing how to update the common rules governing digital trade. While their focus is on e-commerce, they will also discuss data flows and data-enabled goods and services.”

What exactly constitutes digital trade? While there is no single recognised definition of digital trade, there is a growing consensus that it encompasses digitally enabled transactions of trade in goods and services that can either be digitally or physically delivered to consumers, firms and governments, notes the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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