RIETI Report September 2021

Development of International Rules for Digital Economy: Japan and Australia Should Take the Initiative and Encourage Involvement of the U.S. and China

Despite the fact that cyberspace is a trans-national territory with very few borders, there are competing ideologies from national interests regarding the handling of the data crossing through such borders. Security, personal privacy and the economy are all jockeying for position in the policies of different countries as they come to grips with the growing trend of digitalization that was only accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the September issue of the RIETI Report, we present "Development of International Rules for Digital Economy: Japan and Australia Should Take the Initiative and Encourage Involvement of the U.S. and China" by RIETI Vice President Tetsuya Watanabe and Visiting Fellow Shiro Armstrong. They address the growing need for creating frameworks for digital trade amidst the current trend of protectionism. Watanabe and Armstrong urge the leaders of Japan and Australia, two nations in the Quad of four major democracies in the region, to begin taking important steps towards constructive collaboration to form a united front of middle power countries and demonstrate that comprehensive cooperation is possible toward developing international rules in the era of digitalization.

This month's featured article

Development of International Rules for Digital Economy: Japan and Australia Should Take the Initiative and Encourage Involvement of the U.S. and China

WATANABE TetsuyaVice President, RIETI

Shiro ARMSTRONGVisiting Fellow, RIETI

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, digital transformation has accelerated around the world, resulting in the spread of online provision of services in a broad range of fields. In Japan as well, remote work has become popular, triggering a rapid expansion of data traffic. At the same time, wellsprings of innovation taking advantage of digital technology are spreading beyond developed countries to China and emerging countries.

In order to make sure that the benefits of digitalization lead to the growth of national economies, productivity improvement and more fulfilling lives for ordinary people, it is essential to promote free cross-border flows of data and to ensure cybersecurity and to protect personal information as a precondition for doing so.

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