Topography of the global e-commerce regime

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Multilateral trade rules governing e-commerce were not written with today's digital economy in mind  - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was originally written on a typewriter while the General Agreement on Services (GATS) was most likely typed up using the original Pentium processor.  As negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) lie almost entirely moribund, preferential trade agreements (PTAs) have emerged as the primary vehicle for e-commerce liberalization and the development of new digital economy trade rules.  However, e-commerce and digital economy governance and regulation are addressed in different ways across the smorgasbord of PTAs.  The structure and evolutionary dynamics of this system are still largely unexplored.

In this seminar, Nicholas Frank presents a conceptual framework drawn from the broader global governance literature and combines it with specific tools, drawn from network science, to map the topology of the e-commerce governance system.  Network measures are applied to answer a series of questions: is the e-commerce regime a complex or a merely complicated system? Is the system fragmented/(de)fragmented or polycentric/monocentric or both? How has this system evolved and how will proposed PTAs, such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) Phase III negotiations or EU-Australia negotiations, alter its topography? What are the properties of the system and what are their implications for system stability, economic development, and regulatory coherence? 

About the Speaker

Nicholas Frank is sessional lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations and a PhD candidate in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University (ANU). Nicholas specializes in International Political Economy and international economic governance.  His research interests include the political economy of trade agreement formation and design, international development, and geo-economics.  

Prior to undertaking his PhD, Nicholas worked at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) on topics including WTO accessions, service sector regulation and development, global value chain integration and upgrading, and e-commerce and disruptive technologies. He currently provides consulting advice and research services to the International Trade Centre (ITC) on a variety of trade and development issues. 

Nicholas holds a Master of Science (International Political Economy) from the London School of Economics, and an Honours degree (International Political Economy) and Bachelor of Commerce (Economics and Politics) from the University of Cape Town. 

**This event will be delivered online via Zoom.** 

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