Aust push for global digital trade rules

Angus Livingston
(Australian Associated Press)


Australia’s digital exports are already the nation’s fourth-largest export sector and are set to triple over the next 12 years, a new report shows.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is pushing the global community to adopt clear and fair rules on digital trade, which has exploded in the past decade.

A report from the Export Council of Australia, released on Wednesday, shows digital exports are booming but they need regulation.

“Digital exports represent the fourth largest export sector for Australia today, and have the potential to grow even further,” the report says.

“By 2030, Australia’s digital exports could grow by 210 per cent from today’s levels, to reach $19 billion.

“But many countries are adopting digital trade rules that could undermine Australian companies and the country’s overall digital trade opportunity.”

Senator Birmingham says Australia is taking a leadership role within the World Trade Organisation, pushing for a solid set of rules.

“Businesses need certainty around how and when they can transfer data across borders, sufficient freedom to responsibly do so and flexibility to safely store data wherever they choose to do so,” he said.

“These are all issues that, in some way, would be covered through a set of international digital trade rules.”

The trade minister says getting a global standard on digital trade would limit restrictive barriers to Australian trade.

“Australia’s initiative can send a strong signal that willing nations will not be deterred from getting on with developing the new rules required to ensure the success of the new economy.”

Senator Birmingham said 12 of Australia’s 14 signed free trade deals include specific rules to support digital trade.

Australia, Japan and Singapore have been leading more than 80 nations participating in talks about what an international e-commerce framework could look like.


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