In a significant development, the G7 has agreed on principles revolving around cross-border digital trade cross border flow of data.
Britain described the development as a breakthrough which could free up hundreds of billions of dollars of international commerce.
Trade ministers from the G7 ironed out burrs on the agreement in a meeting in London, on Friday.
The deal sets out a middle ground between highly regulated data protection regimes used in European countries and the more open approach of the United States.
“We oppose digital protectionism and authoritarianism and today we have adopted the G7 Digital Trade Principles that will guide the G7’s approach to digital trade,” said Britain.
Digital trade is broadly defined as trade in goods and services that is either enabled or delivered digitally, encompassing activities from the distribution of films and TV to professional services.
For Britain, in 2019 remotely delivered trade was worth $448.09 billion (326 billion pounds) equivalent to a quarter of its total trade, according to a government study of official data.
While earlier government had separate rules governing customer data, which created significant barriers, especially for small and medium-sized businesses for whom the cost of compliance was costly and complicated.
The deal that has been hammered out on Friday, is a first step in reducing those barriers, and is likely to lead to a common rulebook on digital trade.
In a communique, Britain said, the principles covered “open digital markets; cross border data flows; safeguards for workers, consumers, and businesses; digital trading systems; and fair and inclusive global governance”.
“We should address unjustified obstacles to cross-border data flows, while continuing to address privacy, data protection, the protection of intellectual property rights, and security,” said an annexure to the document.
According to a British official with knowledge of the deal, “This agreement is a genuine breakthrough that is the result of hard diplomatic graft. All of us rely on digital trade every day, but for years the global rules of the game have been a wild west that have made it difficult for businesses to seize the immense opportunities on offer.”
($1 = 0.7275 pounds)