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This chapter surveys a number of regulatory interventions through which governments seek to enhance domestic companies’ access to data: mandatory data sharing requirements (as under the EU’s new financial services regulations), data transfer restrictions (as under India’s draft ecommerce policy), and open data initiatives (as under Singapore’s ‘smart nation’ initiative) – all seek to make more data available with the aim of spurring innovation and growth in the AI economy. Such measures are indirectly affected by existing and newly emerging rules of international economic law. International investment law is likely to be mobilized in defense against governments that seek to mandate data sharing from private data holders, while new rules on “digital trade” are meant to ensure transnational data mobility. In sum, international economic law regulates data in favor of data-holders’ ability to retain control over data location and use and constrains states’ ability to confront asymmetric control over data.
This chapter introduces three cross-cutting themes that illustrate the relationship between artificial intelligence and international economic law (IEL): disruption, regulation, and reconfiguration. We explore the theme of disruption along the trifecta of AI-related technological, economic, and legal change. In this context, the impact of AI triggers political and economic pressures, as evidenced by intensive lobbying and engagement in different governance venues for and against various regulatory choices, including what will be regulated, how to regulate it, and whom should be regulated. Along these lines, we assess the extent to which IEL has already been reconfigured and examine the need for further reconfiguration. We conclude this introduction chapter by bringing the contributions we assembled in this volume into conversation with one another and identify topics that warrant further research. Taken as a whole, this book portrays the interaction between AI and IEL. We have collectively explored and evaluated the impact of AI disruption, the need for AI regulation, and directions for IEL reconfiguration.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are transforming economies, societies, and geopolitics. Enabled by the exponential increase of data that is collected, transmitted, and processed transnationally, these changes have important implications for international economic law (IEL). This volume examines the dynamic interplay between AI and IEL by addressing an array of critical new questions, including: How to conceptualize, categorize, and analyze AI for purposes of IEL? How is AI affecting established concepts and rubrics of IEL? Is there a need to reconfigure IEL, and if so, how? Contributors also respond to other cross-cutting issues, including digital inequality, data protection, algorithms and ethics, the regulation of AI-use cases (autonomous vehicles), and systemic shifts in e-commerce (digital trade) and industrial production (fourth industrial revolution). This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Trade liberalization has proceeded on the assumption that eventual aggregate welfare gains will exceed the losses. While compensatory mechanisms exist in most countries, they tend to be underfunded and ineffective. To begin to address this problem, the direct beneficiaries from trade liberalization need to pay more than they do now. This essay proposes to introduce passporting fees to generate more public revenue. Transnational business actors would be required to obtain a free trade passport to receive the excludable benefits that a free trade agreement provides. This would change the political economy of trade radically and allow for the creation and expansion of compensatory mechanisms necessary to re-embed economic liberalism in systems of social protection.
In his seminal article on “embedded liberalism,” John Ruggie argued that to maximize the combination of free trade and social welfare, nation-states must have the power to buffer their populations from trade shocks. The compensatory mechanisms— whether directly targeted at trade-related effects (“trade adjustment measures” such as transfer payments or retraining efforts directly linked to trade-related dislocations) or in the form of general economic and social policies (such as unemployment insurance) —are funded through nation-state– based systems of tariffs and taxation. Post– World War II trade liberalization through the now almost universal General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which continues to be the bedrock of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has successfully brought down tariff levels significantly. In the past two decades, an everincreasing number of bilateral, regional and, most recently, megaregional free trade agreements (FTAs) has further expanded the freedom under which businesses operate transnationally. However, despite their extended scope and supposedly comprehensive nature, not even the most recent trade agreements address public revenue generation, instead maintaining the traditional separation of trade and tax. This has contributed to an unsustainable “disembedded liberalism” in which transnational business actors enjoy the gains that trade agreements create while successfully avoiding state-based systems of taxation. The lack of funding is one reason the architects of the contemporary global economic order have failed to develop compensatory mechanisms commensurate with increased trade liberalization.
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