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Trade Law 4.0: Are We There Yet?

This article showcases the transformation of the regulatory topic of electronic commerce from trade law 2.0 (as the mere trade in goods and services online) towards trade law 4.0 (as the regulation of the data-driven economy). It traces the dynamics of digital trade regulation in the past decade in a complex geopolitical setting by looking at some broad trends, as well as at distinct regulatory models endorsed by preferential trade agreements (PTAs). The article then goes back to the multilateral forum of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and reveals how PTAs have worked as regulatory laboratories and asks whether their results can be translated to the WTO. The enquiry highlights the possibilities and the constraints of the multilateral forum in this context, as well as seeks to uncover both legal innovation and path dependencies in the global digital trade rule-making landscape.

 

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