Policy Brief: E-Commerce Negotiations at the WTO: Lessons from Multilateral and Regional Trade Agreements for an Inclusive Digital Trade
Published July 20, 2023 by Milad A. Said Barguil, Class of 2023 at Georgetown Law
Digital trade has acquired great importance in the last two decades, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Many international organizations are addressing this issue and governments are making efforts to overcome the challenges and reap the benefits of the digital economy. The World Trade Organization (‘WTO’) is not the exception. In 1998 the WTO Work Programme on Electronic Commerce (‘Work Programme on Electronic Commerce’) was launched “to examine all trade-related issues relating to global electronic commerce”. However, it was not until 2019 that negotiations on an agreement on e-commerce (‘Joint Statement Initiative’ or ‘JSI’) formally started. Despite the increasing importance of digital trade in the global economy, the digital divide between developed and developing countries is substantial. Without the right measures “the digital divide will become the new face of inequality”. That is why the WTO must address the digital divide as an important part of the negotiations and build on previous multilateral and regional experiences.
This issue brief analyzes the results of previous multilateral WTO agreements that contain obligations to assist Least-Developed Countries (‘LDCs’), and the approach adopted in Regional Trade Agreements (‘RTAs’) that would be useful to bridge the digital divide. Section one presents a brief history of the WTO e-commerce negotiations and the current state of the digital divide. Section two is comprised of two parts. The first part analyzes obligations in favor of LDCs included in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (‘GATS’) and provisions of RTAs to facilitate trade and develop digital economy integration between its members. It is asserted that, even though the inclusion of binding commitments in favor of LDCs under the GATS was an important step to promote development, the means to comply with these commitments were not the most effective. On the other hand, based on the examples of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (‘USMCA’) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement between Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore (‘DEPA’), it is argued that the establishment of a permanent committee to design digital trade policies to assist LDCs would be more effective. Then, part two asserts that the WTO made important progress to bridge the digital divide with the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement (‘Telecom Agreement’), since it opens countries’ market to the provision of this services by foreign companies on a Most-Favored Nation basis, which incentivizes participation in a sector that is critical to engage in the digital economy. It is also argued that the Digital Economy Agreement between the United Kingdom and Singapore (‘UKSDEA’) is an excellent model for the WTO negotiators, since it creates an obligation to the parties of a bilateral agreement to bridge the digital divide. It is suggested that the WTO should build on the Telecom Agreement, by including a provision in the JSI similar to that contained in the UKSDEA, whereby the investment on telecommunications in LDCs and developing countries would be tied to a best efforts obligation to increase digital inclusion, in particular, to advance digital skills and address the trade barriers faced by Micro-, Small and Medium- Sized enterprises (MSMEs) in those countries. Section three concludes.
2. History of the WTO e-commerce negotiations and the current state of the digital divide.
The discussions of e-commerce at the WTO started in 1998 when the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce was launched by the General Council. It was not a negotiating mandate, but rather it was adopted “with specific remits to relevant WTO bodies with a view to examining all trade related issues relating to global electronic commerce.” However, “from the launch of the Work Programme in 1998 until the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in 2015, discussions in those bodies did not see significant progress or lead to an effort toward a potential revision of the rules”. Even with the exponential growth of e-commerce in the last three decades, it was not until 2017 in the Buenos Aires’ Ministerial Conference that a Joint Statement Initiative was launched for a potential negotiation on digital trade. Finally, in 2019 a second statement was released announcing the intention of the parties to start negotiations. Such negotiations at the WTO are still being conducted and it is expected that they will conclude at the end of 2023 with an agreement on e-commerce.
Even though the WTO recognized the importance of digital trade more than two decades ago and despite the growth of transactions through digital means, the digital divide between developed and developing countries is still significant. Around 3.7 billion people are still offline and most of them in developing countries. Less than 5% of the population in such countries buy goods or services online, only one in five people in LDCs use the internet, and the quality of broadband services in those countries is insufficient. Also, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, digital inequalities might increase. “Most digital solutions are offered or supported by a relatively small number of mega-digital platforms, mainly originating in United States and China. The further shift towards the digitalization is thus likely to further strengthen their market positions. As noted in UNCTAD’s Digital Economy Report 2019, in 2017, the top seven digital platforms already accounted for two-thirds of the value of the world’s digital platforms with a market capitalization of at least $100 million. They benefit from network effects and from their ability to extract, control and analyze data. These data are then transformed into digital intelligence that can be monetized in various ways.”
The WTO is aware of this problem. Ambassador Kazuyuki Yamazaki (Japan), one of the co-convenors of the JSI, stated in the negotiation meetings that “the initiative should continue to give attention to developing countries which are facing challenges related to capacity building and the digital divide”. How the WTO is going to address this gap is crucial, since this might successfully assist developing countries and LDCs in benefiting from the digital economy or the wrong approach might increase inequalities. In order to get this right from the beginning, the experience from previous multilateral and plurilateral WTO agreements, as well as the development of digital trade rules in RTAs, are invaluable resources for the current negotiations.
3. Lessons from Multilateral and Regional Trade Agreements.
WTO Agreements, as well as RTAs, have tried to make global trade more inclusive. Two instances are examined below. The first one analyzes the special obligation in favor of LDCs contained in article IV:3 of the GATS. It is argued below that a similar obligation under the JSI should be materialized through a Joint Committee, such as those established under the USMCA and the DEPA. The second part analyzes the importance of the Telecom Agreement and of the obligations agreed under the UKSDEA to bridge the digital divide. Based on those agreements, an inclusion of a provision whereby telecommunications investments in LDCs and developing countries would be tied to a best efforts obligation to develop digital skills and assist MSMEs is suggested.
3.1 Special treatment to Least-Developed Countries under the GATS.
The GATS made important progress to promote development by including a special obligation to facilitate trade in favor of LDCs. However, as will be explained below, the means used to materialize this obligation have not been the most effective. Therefore, it is important to look at what RTAs have done in this area to achieve more inclusion. The USMCA and the DEPA created Joint Committees to promote trade and strengthen digital economy integration. It is argued in this sub-section that such a strategy would be more useful than the ones adopted under the GATS in order to fulfill a special obligation in favor of LDCs.
Article IV of the GATS includes provisions to assist LDCs and developing countries to increase their participation in services world trade. However, paragraph 3 contains a special obligation in favor of LDCs only. This article provides that:
“1. The increasing participation of developing country Members in world trade shall be facilitated through negotiated specific commitments, by different Members pursuant to Parts III and IV of this Agreement, relating to:
(a) the strengthening of their domestic services capacity and its efficiency and competitiveness, inter alia through access to technology on a commercial basis;
(b) the improvement of their access to distribution channels and information networks; and
(c) the liberalization of market access in sectors and modes of supply of export interest to them.
- Developed country Members, and to the extent possible other Members, shall establish contact points within two years from the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement to facilitate the access of developing country Members’ service suppliers to information, related to their respective markets, concerning:
(a) commercial and technical aspects of the supply of services;
(b) registration, recognition and obtaining of professional qualifications; and
(c) the availability of services technology.
- Special priority shall be given to the least-developed country Members in the implementation of paragraphs 1 and 2. Particular account shall be taken of the serious difficulty of the least-developed countries in accepting negotiated specific commitments in view of their special economic situation and their development, trade and financial needs.”
Paragraph 3 “lays down the principle that this category of countries should be treated differently in the process of negotiating new commitments. The practical means to give it effect is to be found in Article XIX:3 which calls upon the CTS to establish modalities for the special treatment of LDCs in each round of negotiations pursuant to the above provision. During the current round of services negotiations which began in 2000 and later on became part of the Doha Round, these modalities were agreed and adopted by the CTS Special Session in 2003.”
The Modalities for the Special Treatment for Least-Developed Country Members in the Negotiations on Trade in Services (the ‘Modalities’) “shall ensure maximum flexibility for LDCs”. According to these Modalities Members shall give special priority to provide market access to LDCs. Also, Members shall take measures to improve the access of LDCs’ services and services suppliers to distribution channels and information networks. In addition to that, considering that the temporary movement of natural persons supplying services (Mode 4) is of particular importance for LDCs, Members shall consider undertaking commitments to provide access in Mode 4.
Then, in 2011 a waiver was adopted through a Ministerial Decision to allow Members to provide special treatment to LDCs (‘Preferential Treatment Waiver’). Under this Decision a Member may deviate from its Most-Favored Nation obligations under GATS Article II:1, and “provide preferential treatment to services and service suppliers of least-developed countries with respect to the application of measures described in Article XVI [of the GATS] and any other measures as may be annexed to this waiver, than to like services and service suppliers of other Members”. The waiver also specifies that the measures adopted “shall be designed to promote the trade of least-developed countries in those sectors and modes of supply that are of particular export interest to the least-developed countries”. Although, initially, the waiver would last for 15 years since the date of its adoption, it was extended until December 31st of 2030.
Considering that by 2013 no country had used the waiver, in the Ministerial Conference of that same year Members reached a decision to operationalize the waiver. According to this Decision, the Council for Trade in Services will convene a meeting six months after a collective request by LDCs, where developed and developing country members in capacity to do so will indicate the sectors and modes of supply where they are willing to provide preferential treatment. Also, the Decision prompts Members to, individually, extend preferences consistent with the waiver to LDCs’ services and service suppliers.
The request by LDCs (the ‘Collective request’) was submitted in July 2014. After that, developed and some developing country members communicated to LDCs sectors and modes of supply where they would be willing to grant preferential treatment.  Up to date a total of 25 notifications on preferential treatment in favor of LDCs have been received by the CTS.
The Preferential Treatment Waiver was “expected to have the potential to provide an advantage that is needed to kick-start LDCs’ services trade on the international markets, apart from a waiver of visa fees for LDC business persons. However, for Modes 1–3, a total of 70 per cent of notified preferences do not exceed the level of Doha Development Agenda (DDA) offers. Most DDA offers reflect the applied MFN regime. For measures going beyond DDA offers, many members have stated that these reflect measures taken from their preferential agreements with other trading partners. While these measures could be preferential – though not exclusive for LDC services and service suppliers – it should be noted that preferential agreements contain only rare instances of MFN-plus treatment.”
The GATS made an important advancement by establishing mandatory commitments to facilitate services trade for LDCs. However, the measures adopted to materialize those obligations, such as the Modalities and the Preferential Treatment Waiver, have not achieved its purpose since countries granting preferences are not conferring more favorable treatment to LDCs in many of its offers. Therefore, even though the JSI should follow the example of the GATS by adding obligations in favor of LDCs, negotiators should consider provisions included in RTAs to fulfill those commitments.
The USMCA and the DEPA contain clauses that could be used as a model in the WTO forum. Under these agreements a Joint Committee will be established to facilitate trade and develop digital economy integration between the parties of each treaty. Article 26.1.5.a of the USMCA provides that the North American Competitiveness Committee shall:
“Discuss effective approaches and develop information-sharing activities to support a competitive environment in North America that facilitates trade and investment between the Parties, and promotes economic integration and development within the free trade area.”
According to article 26.1.2, the Competitiveness Committee is comprised by government representatives from each contracting party.
A similar example is found in the DEPA. Under this Agreement there’s also a Joint Committee formed by government officials. This committee shall “consider ways to further enhance digital economy partnership between the Parties” and “develop arrangements for implementing this Agreement”.
These approaches might be very useful for WTO negotiators. The JSI could address the needs of LDCs by establishing a body like the USMCA Competitive Committee or the DEPA Joint Committee, with a specific mandate to design trade policies that would advance the digital trade interests of LDCs and would assist in bridging the digital divide. Under the Preferential Treatment Waiver, it took four years from the date of adoption in 2011 until the first notification on preferential treatment was granted. Besides, even though it will expire in seven years, a significant number of the preferences conferred do not exceed the MFN regime, meaning that in practice, no actual benefit is being granted. In cases where the benefit exceeds such regime, it is equal to the concessions made to other trading partners under RTAs, which may include developed and developing countries, undermining the ability of LDCs to compete and to make use of the more favorable treatment. On the other hand, the approach taken by the USMCA and the DEPA could assist the WTO Members more effectively since a permanent committee will be able to design proposals considering the evolving changes of technology, geopolitical shifts, and the global economy. Also, such a committee that continuously provides proposals would leverage the position of LDCs in trade negotiations and put more pressure on their counterparts, due to a larger number of options to reach an agreement. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that, although LDCs share common characteristics, their specific needs and social contexts differ. Therefore, instead of having a unique set of concessions for all LDCs, a permanent committee could adopt a more tailored approach to each country or group of countries with similar concerns, leading to better digital trade negotiations and solutions.
3.2 Build on the Telecom Agreement to advance digital skills and address trade barriers faced by Micro-, Small and Medium- Sized Enterprises in Developing Countries and LDCs.
The WTO made an important advancement to bridge the digital divide with the entry into force of the Telecom Agreement, since this infrastructure is fundamental to participate in the digital economy. The developments made in RTAs may assist the JSI negotiators to reach an inclusive digital trade treaty by building on the Telecom Agreement. The UKSDEA is a remarkable example of a bilateral agreement that created a best efforts obligation for its members to bridge the digital divide. This sub-section suggests that the JSI should include a provision whereby the investments made in the telecommunications sector of LDCs and developing countries should be tied to a best efforts obligation to bridge the digital divide, in particular to advance digital skills and address the trade barriers faced by MSMEs.
The WTO paved the way to bridge the digital divide in 1998 when the WTO Telecom Agreement entered into force. Under this agreement the Most-Favored Nation and National Treatment principles apply. According to the MFN provision, countries are required to confer similar treatment to WTO members by granting market access to all of them to the liberalized sectors.
According to a Report of the United States Federal Communications Commission:
“As a result of the WTO Basic Telecom Agreement, 44 WTO Members (representing 99 percent of WTO Members’ total basic telecommunications services revenues) will permit foreign ownership or control of all telecommunications services and facilities, while an additional 12 WTO Members will permit foreign ownership of some telecommunications services. Fifty-two WTO Members (covering 88 percent of WTO Members’ international services revenues) will provide market access for the provision of international services and another five will provide market access for limited international services. Forty-nine WTO Members (accounting for more than 80 percent of WTO Members’ total satellite services revenues) also guaranteed market access for the provision of satellite services. In addition, 55 WTO Members agreed to adopt the Reference Paper, which sets out pro-competitive regulatory principles (Reference Paper), and another ten WTO Members agreed to adopt these regulatory principles in part or at a future date.”
Market liberalization resulting from the Telecom Agreement is a first step towards digital inclusion, since it incentivizes the participation of new companies in the market in an era where economic growth is strongly linked to access to telecommunications. According to the World Bank access to broadband “can help expand the reach of task-based work through online outsourcing platforms, which are projected to provide millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue over the coming years. Raising Internet penetration to 75 percent of the population in all developing countries (from the current level of approximately 35 percent) would add as much as US$2 trillion to their collective gross domestic product (GDP) and create more than 140 million jobs around the world.”
Considering the benefits of access to internet and broadband and taking into account that the WTO already made a first step to digital inclusion with the Telecom Agreement, the JSI should build on that progress. Recent Preferential Trade Agreements shed light on how this commitment could be framed. The UKSDEA is a good example. Article 8.61-P of this agreement says:
“The Parties also recognise the digital divide between countries, and the role for digital trade in promoting economic development and poverty reduction. To that end, the Parties shall endeavour to undertake and strengthen cooperation, including through existing mechanisms, to promote the participation in digital trade of countries who face barriers to such participation. This may include sharing best practices, collaborating on capacity building initiatives, active engagement in international fora and promoting countries’ participation in, and contribution to, the global development of rules on digital trade.”
“The Parties shall also participate actively at the WTO and in other international fora to promote initiatives for advancing digital inclusion in digital trade.”
The UKSDEA is a remarkable example since it is a bilateral agreement that creates a best effort obligation to facilitate the access of third parties to digital trade. In addition to that it creates an obligation for the parties to the agreement to actively participate in WTO inclusive initiatives in digital trade.
Considering that market access commitments to the telecommunications sector were already agreed at the WTO, a best efforts obligation like the one of the UKSDEA should be part of the JSI, whereby telecommunications investments in developing countries and LDCs should be accompanied by measures to increase digital inclusion. In particular, investment should be tied to an effort towards: 1) the advancement of digital skills and 2) addressing barriers that impede the successful participation of MSMEs in digital trade.
Digital skills are “a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information. They enable people to create and share digital content, communicate and collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfillment in life, learning, work, and social activities at large”. After to the Covid-19 pandemic, digital skills became fundamental for work environments. Employers in the developed as well as the developing world require digital skills: in the Sub-Saharan Africa 65% of the job openings require digital skills and this number raises to 75% and 85% in the United Kingdom and the EU, respectively. Countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mexico have reported an increase in the need of digital skills for the healthcare, education and finance sectors. Nonetheless, although digital skills are required worldwide, developing countries face a greater burden to afford them, since the majority of the 2.9 million people that still remain offline live in such countries and, while around 87% of the European population uses the internet, only 33% of the African population does. Considering how important digital skills are now for companies around the world, and therefore, for global economic growth, a best efforts obligation to advance digital skills could contribute significantly to bridge the digital divide.
Such an obligation should also address barriers that impede the successful participation of MSMEs in digital trade. MSMEs are key actors in job creation and are the world’s largest food producers. Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) alone account for about 90% of the businesses and more than 50% of employment in the global economy. However, “MSMEs often face considerable constraints, and they are largely underrepresented in the global market, both in economic terms and their ability to shape trade rules. Although MSMEs comprise two-thirds of total employment in OECD countries, their contribution to global exports is low (20 to 40 percent as of 2020). The degree to which MSMEs participate in global trade also varies by country, region, and sector, among other factors, with low participation of MSMEs from developing countries. MSMEs also face high trade costs and are impacted by changing circumstances; MSMEs had a disproportionate presence in sectors that were affected by the pandemic, for example.” As part of the best efforts obligation suggested for the JSI, there are clauses specifically tailored to SMEs and MSMEs that could be considered. These clauses include obligations for country members to seek opportunities to: 1) “promote close cooperation on digital trade between SMEs of the Parties and cooperate in promoting jobs and growth for SMEs”; 2) “encourage SMEs participation in platforms that help link SMEs with international suppliers, buyers and other potential business partners”; and “exchange information and share best practices in improving digital skills and leveraging digital tools and technology to improve access to capital and credit, participation in government procurement opportunities, and other areas that could help SMEs adapt to digital trade”. In light of the important contribution of MSMEs to employment and food security, and the heavy burdens bearing upon them, the JSI should assist MSMEs, in particular those of developing countries and LDCs, so that they can engage successfully in digital trade. The provisions included in the UKSDEA are useful and practical starting points for the WTO negotiators.
According to the foregoing, the WTO made important progress in 1998 with the Telecom Agreement, whereby countries agreed to open their markets to foreign service providers in this sector. This is a major step towards an inclusive digital trade agenda, since this infrastructure is critical to engage in the digital economy, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, developing countries and LDCs face important challenges to reap the benefits of digital transformation, including the lack of digital skills and the trade barriers that affect MSMEs. Current developments in RTAs, such as the UKSDEA, provide a useful approach to WTO negotiators. Including a provision whereby investments in the telecommunication sector of developing countries and LDCs would be tied to a best efforts obligation to increase digital inclusion, in particular to advance digital skills and assist MSMEs, would positively impact the communities of those countries and contribute to bridge the digital divide.
The digital divide between developed and developing countries is one of the most important challenges for economic growth in the current times. The Joint Statement Initiative for an e-commerce agreement is an excellent opportunity to address this problem. The WTO made important progress in the GATS and the Telecom Agreement by adding obligations in favor of LDCs and opening the telecommunications sector. However, the means to implement the commitments under the GATS were not the most effective and opening the market for investment on telecommunications is not enough to solve the problem that digital barriers present. The approach taken in recent Regional Trade Agreements such as the USMCA, DEPA and the UKSDEA shed light on ways to fulfill the obligations in favor of LDCs, develop digital skills and address the struggles faced by MSMEs in LDCs and developing countries, so that they can also be important players in the digital economy.
The author would like to express his gratitude to Professor Chris Brummer (Georgetown University Law Center) for his guidance on earlier versions of this issue brief during his Spring 2023 International Economic Law and Policy Colloquium. Also, the author is indebted to Professor Moshe Hirsch (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) for his permanent and generous advice.
 WTO, The Geneva Ministerial Declaration on global electronic commerce, 20 May 1998, WT/MIN(98)/DEC/2.
 Yasmin Ismail, E-commerce in the World Trade Organization: History and latest developments in the Negotiations under the Joint Statement, (2020), available at E-commerce in the World Trade Organization: History and latest developments in the negotiations under the Joint Statement (iisd.org), at 16.
 United Nations, With Almost Half of World’s Population Still Offline, Digital Divide Risks Becoming ‘New Face of Inequality’, Deputy Secretary-General Warns General Assembly, 27 April 2021, available at With Almost Half of World’s Population Still Offline, Digital Divide Risks Becoming ‘New Face of Inequality’, Deputy Secretary-General Warns General Assembly | UN Press.
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Negotiating liberalization of trade in services for development, (2020), available at Negotiating Liberalization of Trade in Services for Development (unctad.org), at 31.
 Ibid., at 31.
 Ismail, supra note 2, at 10.
 Ibid., at 13.
 Ibid., at 13.
 WTO, E-commerce negotiations enter final lap, Kyrgyz Republic joins initiative, 16 February 2023, available at WTO | 2023 News items – E-commerce negotiations enter final lap, Kyrgyz Republic joins initiative
 WTO, supra note 1.
 United Nations, supra note 3.
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, The COVID-19 crisis: Accentuating the need to bridge digital divides, 6 April 2020, available at The COVID-19 Crisis: Accentuating the Need to Bridge Digital Divides (unctad.org), at 6.
 United Nations, supra note 3.
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, supra note 12, at 6.
 WTO, Co-convenors of e-commerce negotiations: We are heartened by progress made so far, 16 March 2021, available at WTO | 2021 News items – Co-convenors of e-commerce negotiations: We are heartened by progress made so far
 Article 4, General Agreement on Trade in Services 1994, 1869 UNTS 183.
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, supra note 4, at 14.
 WTO, Modalities for the Special Treatment for Least-Developed Country Members in The Negotiations on Trade in Services, 5 September 2003, TN/S/13, at para. 3
 Ibid., at 6.
 Ibid., at 8.
 According to the GATS there are four modes for the supply of services. Article I:2 states that: “For the purposes of this Agreement, trade in services is defined as the supply of a service: (a) from the territory of one Member into the territory of any other Member; (b) in the territory of one Member to the service consumer of any other Member; (c) by a service supplier of one Member, through commercial presence in the territory of any other Member; (d) by a service supplier of one Member, through presence of natural persons of a Member in the territory of any other Member.”
 WTO, supra note 18, at para. 9.
 WTO, Preferential Treatment to Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries, 17 December 2011, WT/L/847.
 Ibid., at 1.
 Ibid., at 4.
 Ibid., at 7.
 WTO, Implementation of Preferential Treatment in Favour of Services and Service Suppliers of Least Developed Countries and Increasing LDC Participation in Services Trade, 19 December 2015, WT/L/982, at para. 1.1.
 WTO, Operationalization of the Waiver Concerning Preferential Treatment to Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries, 7 December 2013, WT/L/918.
 Ibid., at 1.2.
 Ibid., at 1.3.
 WTO, Submission by the Delegation of Uganda on Behalf of the LDC Group. Collective Request Pursuant to the Bali Decision on the Operationalization of the Waiver Concerning Preferential Treatment to Services and Service Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries, 23 July 2014, S/C/W/356.
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, supra note 4, at 15.
 The notifications were submitted by: Australia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; European Union (counting European Union member states as one); Iceland, India; Japan; Liechtenstein; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Panama; Republic of Korea; Singapore; South Africa; Switzerland; Thailand; Turkey; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; United States of America; Uruguay; Hong Kong, China; and Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei).
 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, supra note 4, at 15.
 Article 26.1.5.a, Agreement Between the United States of America, The United Mexican States, and Canada 2020.
 Ibid., at 26.1.2.
 Article 12.1, Digital Economy Partnership Agreement 2020.
 Ibid., at 12.2.
 Ibid., at 12.2.
 WTO, supra note 34.
 T. C. Brightbill and C. O. Verrill, Jr., International Trade Law and Regulation. Cases and Materials. (2022), at 436.
 Ibid., at 436.
 Federal Communications Commission, Rules and Policies on Foreign Participation in the U.S. Telecommunications Market, 26 November 1997, available at RULES AND POLICIES ON FOREIGN PARTICIPATION IN THE U.S. TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET | Federal Communications Commission (fcc.gov), at para. 27.
 Joan Oriol Prats Cabrera and Pau Puig Gabarró, Telecommunications Governance: Toward the Digital Economy, December 2017, available at Telecommunications Governance: Toward the Digital Economy | Publications (iadb.org), at 1.
 The World Bank, Connecting for Inclusion: Broadband access for all. World Bank, available at Connecting for Inclusion: Broadband Access for All (worldbank.org)
 Article 8.61-P, Digital Economy Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Singapore 2022.
 Ibid., at 8.61-P.
 UNESCO, Digital skills critical for jobs and social inclusion, 15 March 2018, available at Digital skills critical for jobs and social inclusion | UNESCO
 Carolina Feijao, Isabel Flanagan, Christian van Stolk and Salil Gunashekar, The global digital skills gap. Current trends and future directions, (2021), available at The global digital skills gap: Current trends and future directions | RAND, at 6.
 Ibid., at 7-8.
 Ibid., at 8.
 Archita Misra, Fostering digital skills in developing countries – what works?, July 2022, available at 2022-07-Fostering-digital-skills-Archita-Misra.pdf (ox.ac.uk), at 3.
 United Nations, Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), available at Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (un.org).
 The World Bank, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Finance. Improving SMEs’ access to finance and finding innovative solutions to unlock sources of capital, available at World Bank SME Finance: Development news, research, data | World Bank
 United Nations, Handbook on Provisions and Options for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Trade Agreements. Prepared by Katrin Kuhlmann, (2023), available at ditc-tncdb-eLearning-RTAs-Handbook_en.pdf (unctad.org), at 16.
 Digital Economy Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Singapore, supra note 47, at 8.61-Q.
 Ibid., at 8.61-Q.
 Ibid., at 8.61-Q.