OECD Trade Policy Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected trade policy studies prepared for use within the OECD.

NB. No. 1 to No. 139 were released under the previous series title OECD Trade Policy Working Papers.


Of bytes and trade: Quantifying the impact of digitalisation on trade

This paper provides an overview of the evolving nature of digital trade and digital trade policies. It shows that digital trade has been growing faster than “non-digital” trade. By 2018, 24% of global trade (USD 5.1 trillion) could be considered digital trade. In parallel, countries have embraced digital trade provisions in trade agreements and new digital economy agreements have emerged. The empirical analysis shows that growing digital connectivity delivers a double dividend, increasing both domestic and international trade. It also shows that digital trade chapters have the potential to double the effect of trade agreements, while reductions in domestic barriers affecting digital trade have a strong export-enhancing effect, particularly in digitally-deliverable services. Overall, the results suggest that digital connectivity and digital trade policies play a significant and growing role in reducing trade costs and increasing trade across countries at all levels of development. The paper calls for wider participation and ambition in discussions at the WTO.


Keywords: Trade agreements, Trade costs, E-commerce, Digital trade, Data Flows, Digital connectivity
JEL: O33: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights / Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations; C54: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Econometric Modeling / Quantitative Policy Modeling; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; F15: International Economics / Trade / Economic Integration; F68: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization / Economic Impacts of Globalization: Policy
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