This backgrounder paper, first presented at Track 1.5 meetings in Mumbai, India, in November 2019, describes the digital trade agenda as viewed from the negotiating table.
Like foreign policy, trade policy is the outward expression of domestic policy — both economic and social — and trade negotiations are to advance the national interest. Both India and Canada have important commercial interests in digital trade and both have counterbalancing social policy concerns, but they have important differences as well. Their equitable participation in digital trade must overcome an imbalanced competitive landscape through measures to facilitate access to technology and infrastructure, financing, and training in digital technology literacy and data-based business models.
As yet, there is no international consensus on how trade rules should be adapted to foster digital trade. Consistent with the Track 1.5 Dialogue objectives, this paper calls on Canada and India to partner and lead in advancing the digital trade agenda. It recommends creating a bilateral process to identify common causes and areas for collaboration; convening a business-to-business conversation supported with research and analysis; and focusing on the impact of digital technology, looking at not only electronic commerce but also trade in traditional service sectors.