Rules for digital trade are necessary

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Rules for digital trade are necessary

Recently, a meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade ministers was held in Hawaii. Currently, 12 countries are participating in TPP negotiations: the U.S., Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Unlike the bilateral free trade agreements, the TPP is a multilateral trade agreement involving multiple nations, expanding existing FTAs.

While only 12 countries are involved, it is likely to have immense influence. As it includes America and Japan, the total GDP of the negotiating countries make up 40 percent of global GDP and one-third of global trade.

While Korea is not participating in the negotiations at the moment, we have expressed interest in November 2013 and will determine the next step after the final negotiation results are announced.

The TPP agreement aims to discard all trade barriers among the negotiating countries. For intellectual property, it has two goals: to pursue a liberal market approach on intellectual property by removing trade barriers and to establish international standards for intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights is noteworthy because of the latest trends in global trade. Recently, global trade is concentrated on digital content with high added value, and electronic trade through the Internet comprises a major portion of international trade. In other worlds, the paradigm of international trade is shifting to digital trade, and trade volume through digital trade is exponentially growing.

In the end, specific rules to realize a new paradigm of international trade for the information age needs to be established in the TPP. To attain the true goal of free trade agreements, limitations on data exchanges among countries should be removed, and protection systems for intellectual property need to be established. Therefore, we need to closely watch how the TPP agreement reflects these points, as it will have great influence over the international trade order.

by Jeong Tae-ho, Professor of Wonkwang University Law School

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