Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 April 2019
The digitalization of trade is a reality, and yet the regulation of the world trading system as embedded in the World Trade Organization (WTO) only tangentially, if at all, touches upon this issue. True, digitalization of the economy, the fourth industrial revolution as it is colloquially referred to, is a recent phenomenon, and to some extent post-dates the conclusion of the Uruguay round agreements (1994). True also, however, is the reality that the world trading system has shown a remarkable inability to adjust to modern business realities in its multilateral rule architecture. To the extent these transformations are being reflected in new rules, they are being introduced in regional or bilateral frameworks, albeit in an incomplete fashion. It is also the case that the world is witnessing several different regimes around data and information economy developing in the world today – most notably in the US, Europe, and China. As always, part of the reason that international frameworks have not been born stems from the fact that international rules rarely occur before domestic regulatory and legal regimes are well developed.