Digital Trade Rules


Jul 16, 2020

8:00 AM (GMT-5)


The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

Digitalisation is transforming the way we work, communicate, eat, live and conduct our social and family relationships. Technology can stimulate prosperity and development, bring us closer together and help build sustainable livelihoods. But it can also constrain development, exacerbate inequalities and destroy jobs and ways of life. Whether countries, workers and consumers everywhere will benefit, or whether the benefits will accrue only to a tiny elite, will be determined by the rules which set the playing field for how digitalisation will evolve over time.

The largest corporations in the history of the world – Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft – are seeking to use ‘trade’ rules to rig the rules of the global (digital) economy to enable them to collect more data, exercise more control over our lives and their workers, and amass ever more profit. More than 80 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently negotiating a new agreement on digital trade based on these proposals.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has just published a comprehensive review of some of the most important aspects of these proposals. “Digital trade rules: a disastrous new constitution for the global economy written by and for Big Tech” by Deborah James seeks to explain how these corporations operate in order to achieve their goals; what the potential impacts of the rules would be on workers, citizens, communities, developing countries, public services, safety and security, and democracy itself; what the alternatives are; and what we can do to stop this mass corporate takeover.


Deborah James is the author of “Digital trade rules: a disastrous new constitution for the global economy written by and for Big Tech.” She is the Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, and coordinates the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network.


Rashmi Banga, Rashmi Banga, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Switzerland

Caroline Khamati Mugalla, East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC), Tanzania

Kate Lappin, Regional Secretary Asia and Pacific, Public Services International (PSI), Australia

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