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2016 Vol.3
The Future of International Trade and Investment Rules

Activities of the E15 Initiative Regarding the Digital


The GATT/WTO system, which has played a central role in the post-war international trade regime, has continuously provided a legal infrastructure that establishes basic, non-discriminatory trade rules and offers an effective mechanism for dispute settlement. With respect to free trade negotiations, however, the disagreements at the Doha Round have cast a shadow over the system. Meanwhile, the world is witnessing a period of change with regard to the rules that maintain international economic order as mega-FTAs, such as the TPP, and other free trade and investment agreements increase their influence. In recent years, the impact of the Internet of Things and big data on the economy and industry has been widely recognized, and the digital economy is becoming increasingly important. As the Internet-based digital economy expands, there is a need to put in place rules that promote cross-border digital transactions. For the digital economy to develop soundly, it is necessary to improve the confidence of business operators and consumers and to limit the use of protective measures. However, the current international trade and investment rules do not effectively exert discipline toward that end. Proper remedies are thus urgently needed. The E15 Initiative, an international expert body, proposes policy options for international trade rules involving the digital economy and encourages actions by national governments, industries, and other entities. The E15 Initiative is expected to contribute to the establishment of this global order.