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What we are reading

Regulating digital trade and data flows

Published 02 May 2023

As China, the EU, and the US pursue different approaches to data protection and digital trade, will the world fragment into divergent regulatory regimes? Is the Biden administration in favor of completely decoupling from China? Can artificial intelligence make supply chains more efficient? Explore our reading list for the latest developments in international trade.

Digital policy and regulatory fragmentation

As digital trade and the value of data grows in importance, will the world fragment into divergent regulatory regimes? How will digital middle powers decide what path to take? Can Japan operationalize its proposal for data-free flow with trust? CSIS offers ideas for making the concept a reality. Tokyo is challenging Beijing’s status as a data center hub, reports Nikkei Asia, while Li Xirui, writing in Asia Global Online, assesses the prospect for liberalizing cross-border data flows between China and ASEAN. What economic impact do digital trade rules have? APEC analyzes the results from its member economies. 

Mentioned publications

  1. The Technology Policies of Digital Middle Powers – Alice Pannier (ed.), French Institute of International Relations, February 2023
    How are digital middle powers developing their regulatory landscape for data and digital technologies?  
  2. Operationalizing Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) – Matthew P. Goodman and Aidan Arasingham, Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 13, 2023 
    Can Japan advance the concept of Data Free Flow with Trust through its leadership of the G7? 
  3. Tokyo challenges Beijing as Asia's data center hub Nikkei Asia, April 15, 2023
    Companies are turning to Tokyo for data storage.
  4. The Prospects for Liberalizing Cross-Border Data Flows between China and ASEAN – Li Xirui, Asia Global Online, March 15, 2023
    China and ASEAN member states are not ready to make more commitments on cross-border data flows.
  5. Economic Impact of Adopting Digital Trade Rules: Evidence from APEC Member EconomiesAPEC Committee on Trade and Investment, March 2023
    To what extent is digital trade growing and contributing to APEC Member economies?

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Decoupling and Sino-US relations

Is the Biden administration in favor of decoupling from China? In a new speech, US Treasury Secretary Yellen says that a full separation would be disastrous and de-stabilizing. That message may be too late for venture capitalists, for whom current geopolitics add too many risks, per Foreign Policy.  

Mentioned publications

  1. Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen on the U.S. - China Economic Relationship at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies – April 20, 2023 
    Secretary Yellen argues for a constructive and fair economic relationship with China. 
  2. Silicon Valley Is Beating Washington to China Decoupling – Rishi Iyengar, Foreign Policy, April 3, 2023 
    Venture capitalists have already decoupled investments between the US and China. 

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Can AI fix my supply chains? 

New technologies are introduced every day, and some may help solve supply chain challenges. AI and DNA are unlocking the mysteries of global supply chains, writes the New York Times, while the Wall Street Journal explores how chatbots may assist with supply chains.

Mentioned publications

  1. How A.I. and DNA Are Unlocking the Mysteries of Global Supply Chains – Ana Swanson, The New York Times, April 12, 2023 
    Advanced technologies could make it possible to track goods precisely through complex supply chains. 
  2. Chatbots Are Stepping Toward Supply ChainsThe Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2023
    Can AI play a role in formulating efficient supply chains?  

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Next in line for the CPTPP

As the UK concludes negotiations, China’s application to join the CPTPP is next up. Chinese academics Lu Guangsheng and Zhao Haotong offer suggestions for where China’s efforts should go from here in the face of opposition from current CPTPP members. The South China Morning Post asks whether China’s efforts to ease trade tensions with Australia are part of a strategy to win Australia’s support for China’s accession. 

Mentioned publications

  1. CPTPP Countries Differ in their Attitudes [Towards Us], Where Should China Go From Here? Lu Guangsheng and Zhao Haotong, March 2023, translated by Sinification, April 23, 2023
    What should China do to gain the support of CPTPP members for China’s accession?  
  2. Is China’s move to resolve Australia barley row masking a ‘strategic’ bid to join the CPTPP? – Su-Lin Tan, South China Morning Post, April 17, 2023 
    China must court CPTPP members if it wants to accede to the agreement. 

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Semiconductors, sanctions, and export controls

Can export controls and sanctions effectively keep semiconductors and chip manufacturing tools out of China and Russia? Gregory C. Allen, Emily Benson, and Margot Putnam at CSIS explore Japanese and Dutch plans for new export controls, and Nikkei Asia examines how Hong Kong’s business-friendly environment creates opportunities for businesses looking to evade US sanctions. 

Mentioned publications

  1. Japan and the Netherlands Announce Plans for New Export Controls on Semiconductor Equipment – Gregory C. Allen, Emily Benson, and Margot Putnam, Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 10, 2023 
    How do the Japanese and Dutch export controls systems work?? 
  2. How business-friendly Hong Kong became a hub of Russian chip tradeNikkei Asia, April 21, 2023
    Hong Kong’s ease of doing business creates opportunities for evading sanctions. 

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