Paving a path through COVID-19?
Due to COVID-19, the third Home Affairs Portfolio Industry Summit was the first summit to be held on a virtual platform across two days – 23 and 24 November. The Home Affairs Portfolio’s annual Industry Summit is its premier industry engagement event. Industry representatives heard from Portfolio’s leaders about the ABF’s strategic direction and priorities for the future.
The two-day virtual program explored the theme: National Recovery: Building the partnership between Home Affairs and Australian Industry.
In the digital field, the WTO and its rulebook have proved to be forward-looking. The WTO has already supported innovation in many ways It has done so directly by eliminating tariffs on internet and telecommunications infrastructure products through the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), by liberalizing internet services through the telecommunications agreement and by stimulating e-commerce with the moratorium on duties on cross-border digital flows, as well as by providing a robust and stable framework for the development of global and open standards, intellectual property protection and other critical rules based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency and reciprocity. Indirectly, it has supported innovation through the improved resource allocation and efficiency that result from open trade, which frees up resources to be devoted to new cutting-edge pursuits.
Moving forward, the WTO will continue to have an important role to play in reducing uncertainty in markets for digital goods and services. Members will have to consider how to encourage the sharing of benefits arising from innovation policies, what measures will be needed to facilitate investment, and whether new flexibilities can be expanded for governments to support domestic digital innovation. The mobility of skilled workers, data flows and privacy concerns, and anti-competitive behaviour in the digital industry will be of high concern as well, the report adds.
International cooperation to foster shared understandings about these policies would help forestall trade tensions — and thus lay a firmer foundation for innovation, investment, and cross-border activity to flourish.
The report can be downloaded here.
Printed copies are available through the WTO Online Bookshop.