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A balanced discussion on digital trade


1) Digital is becoming central to trade…

  • Production and consumption in the economy are being digitalized.
  • Cross-border data flows are becoming important channels of trade.
  • Data-driven and digital innovation are central to economies of the future.

2) Conflicts are emerging around digital trade…

  • Governments are enacting policies around digital with economic objectives.
  • Policies challenge existing trade rules and create demands for new rules.
  • Powerful countries are looking to discipline weaker ones.

3) A lack of balance: bringing back global justice…

  • Talking points being shaped by the technology industry with narrow agendas
  • Focus is on leading digital nations without considering digital latecomers
  • Focus on big tech and national goals without thinking of small firms and society

About the site


The Digital Trade Tracker was created by Dr Christopher Foster, a research fellow at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester, UK. The site is inspired by research undertaken by Christopher Foster, Shamel Azmeh & Jaime Echavarri from 2015-2020.

In our research we have often found digital trade to be a fast moving, technical and confusing area. We also found that much of the public material presented in the mainstream press took a narrow perspective, often rehashing the positions of technology firms and powerful states, such as the US.

As issues around data, digital and trade becomes important there is need for clearer information and commentary on these issues. This is the goal of this website – to provide simple and balanced information for trade negotiators, policy makers, advocacy groups, academics and wider society on issues connected digital trade and how they will shape the future of the global economy.

The background material for this site is inspired by our earlier journal articles, which provide a more academic overview of these topics:

Any comments and feedback are welcome. See the contact page