Thematic Session on Regulatory Cooperation between Members on Intangible Digital Products

June 20
10:00 am
 – 1:00 pm

The integration into our daily lives of emerging digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), 3D printers, quantum computing is moving at an extremely rapid pace. The magnitude of their potential impact in all economies and societies – both positively transformative as well as disruptive – is also becoming rapidly clear.

The pace, prevalence and disruptive nature of this process can pose unique challenges to governments, consumers and economic operators, in particular MSMEs. Novel regulatory solutions may thus be needed to ensure the benefits of these technologies can be harnessed while their risks mitigated. Regulatory cooperation may also be particularly important for, among others, ensuring that regulatory interventions in this area do not unnecessarily restrict trade.

This session intends to explore regulatory challenges in this area, and how the WTO TBT Agreement (and the work of the TBT Committee) can assist governments and other stakeholders in developing novel regulations and standards that are fit-for-purpose to both safeguard consumers and facilitate trade in an emerging global digital economy where the boundaries of the tangible and intangible are becoming increasingly blurred.

This session will aim to address the following guiding questions:

  • What are the challenges and opportunities for trade in intangible digital products? How can standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures help address these challenges and harness these opportunities?
  •  What is the impact of regulatory interventions on MSMEs in the area of trade in intangible digital products? How to ensure MSMEs are not disproportionately affected by such regulations, and what role can the TBT Committee play in this regard?
  • What opportunities exist for regulatory cooperation and standards development between Members and stakeholders (both within and outside the WTO) in the area of emerging digital technologies and how can such cooperation help in avoiding unnecessary regulatory fragmentation in this area?