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The rapid development of the Internet has led to a growing potential for electronic trade in digital content like movies, music and software. As a result, there is a need for a global trade framework applicable to such digitally-delivered content products. Yet, digital trade is currently not explicitly recognised by the trade rules and obligations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This study provides a complete analysis of the related challenges in the ongoing WTO Doha Negotiations to remedy this state of affairs. It elaborates on the required measures in the multilateral negotiations to achieve market access for digital content and examines the obstacles that lie on the path to reach consensus between the United States and the European Communities. Negotiation parameters analysed include the current US and EC regulatory approach to audiovisual and information society services and the evolution of their applicable trade policy jurisdiction. Finally, this examination takes stock of how the Doha Negotiations and parallel US-driven preferential trade agreement have so far contributed to securing free trade in digital content. As new technologies are an increasingly prominent source of trade dispute, this book is an assessment of how WTO Members can maintain the relevance of the multilateral trade framework in a changing technological and economic environment. "This important work highlights the missed opportunity in on-going global trade talks -- the failure to pursue a free trade framework for digitally delivered content. If not corrected, one can readily imagine the rise of discriminatory barriers to digital trade of the type that have dogged global trade flows for years, and a failed recognition by the WTO of the reality of modern commerce. The WTO should, as the author argues, put a "spotlight" on electronic trade, and move forward in a comprehensive fashion."
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Former United States Trade Representative
"Wunsch-Vincent provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges to establish a liberal trade regime for trade in digital products. This book will become an important point-of-reference for anybody interested in e-commerce and the WTO."
Carlos A. Primo Braga, Senior Adviser, International Trade Department, The World Bank