WITA Webinar: Digitally Enabled Trade and eCommerce
Wendy Cutler with the Washington International Trade Association (WITA)
On Thursday, June 18, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), along with the Washington International Trade Association (WITA), cohosted a webinar about digital trade, a fast-emerging area of global trade that continues to make up a growing share of both overall trade and economic growth. ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler and WITA Executive Director Ken Levinson were joined by Amb. Frances Lisson, Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Jake Colvin of the Global Innovation Forum, and Javier Lopez Gonzalez of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The conversation centered on the ways that digital trade, which was already growing by leaps and bounds before COVID-19, has been catalyzed by the pandemic as people around the world are relying on digital tools and digital commerce more than ever before. As Cutler explained, “This is a trend that was in play long before COVID, but COVID has certainly accelerated it.” She also wondered if the pandemic might not only speed up, but also alter the direction of existing digital trade negotiations, adding, “Maybe it’s done even more than that by adding new issues to the agenda.”
The group discussed the ongoing WTO e-commerce talks, which already include 85 countries, and the prospects for their success. To round things off, they discussed the ongoing debates about digital services tax (DST) policies around the world, on the heels of an announcement the day prior that the United States asked to suspend the multilateral DST negotiations at the OECD due to a lack of progress.