IGF 2020 WS #155 Trade and Internet governance: synergies and trust.


Organizer 1: Technical Community, Eastern European Group
Organizer 2: Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Schubert Nicolas, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Konstantinos Komaitis, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Mishra Neha, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Paul Fehlinger, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Other - 90 Min
Format description: Panel followed by roundtable U-shape discussion.

Policy Question(s)

• What are the synergies and gaps between internet governance principles and international trade? • What are biggest risks and challenges arising out of digital trade and digital business models and how to address them? • How to enhance collaboration between internet governance and international trade stakeholders and policymakers to enable alignment and consensus on vital principles of openness, security and trust in internet? • Where the balance might be struck or trade-offs might be needed between internet governance principles and international trade policy objectives as a response to the growing range of risks brought by digital business models? • How is international trade domain addressing issues related to trust, privacy and security of the internet? • How to achieve shared vision approach to trust, safety and security of internet without undermining the growth of digital economy and international trade? • How can aligning international trade policies with internet governance principles contribute to economic recovery post Covid19 pandemic?

The session will explore the synergies and gaps between international trade and internet governance. It aims at debating vital issues of trust, security, and reliability of internet, which are central to supporting robust and strong international trade and digital economy. Strong and reliable international trade is also critical for economic recovery post Covid19 pandemic. The discussion will focus on whether international trade needs to be more inclusive of issues related to internet. Debate will centre around the internet governance principles of openness and security, and the alignment of international trade law with these principles in enabling digital economy, including the following questions. To what extent are there synergies between internet governance and international trade in relation to principles of openness, security and trust? Should internet governance policy objectives influence application of international trade laws? The session is a response to the need of a greater coordination between stakeholders in areas that impact international trade and internet governance, including trust, privacy, net neutrality, consumer protection and barriers to internet data flows. The aim of the session is to induce collaboration and regulatory harmonization on mutually reinforced principles common for internet governance and international trade. The session will also discuss the broader view of the basic values of internet governance, including trust and security and their role for international trade objectives of liberalisation and free cross border data flows. International trade depends not only on international trade laws and principles but also on safe, stable, open and trustworthy internet. Internet-wide online trust, safety and security will help reduce cross border frictions of international trade. It is critical for a healthy internet ecosystem to define common consensus on the issues of openness, security and trust.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Production and Consumption
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Secure, open and trusted internet is an indispensable platform for international trade. The internet is no longer just a network to exchange information, but increasingly also a pillar of the digital economy, e-commerce and international trade. However, a balance between competing interests of international trade rules and internet governance is not always easy to achieve. Yet, the development of secure and reliable digital trade requires open, secure and trusted internet. An intersection between international trade and internet governance is complex, but inevitable. Trust is the foundation of international trade and critical element in building strong brands and digital business models. In today´s internet business models privacy can, at times, be contradictory to profitability and openness can be contradictory to trust. Data driven digital business models and digital trade introduce new elements of risks and new challenges to internet trust infrastructure. Trust is becoming an important differentiator in digital economy and the ultimate currency of digital trade. Internet governance can be complementary rather than contradictory to trade governance. It is instrumental in shaping policy objectives that would enable, rather than inhibit international trade. It can reinforce and uphold trust in online presence and data exchange.

Expected Outcomes

• Strengthening the links between internet governance and international trade communities. Establishing network for future collaboration and exchange. • Achieving better understanding by the stakeholders of the links between internet governance principles and international trade policy objectives. • Introducing international trade issues related to internet at the internet governance forum to induce dialog and collaboration. • WTO experts will be able to introduce discussed issues into the current working streams at WTO.

Panel experts will share their diverse views and perspectives on the topic. Participants will then be invited to ask questions and contribute their views to the debate. Discussion between participants and panel experts will be encouraged.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Issues of internet governance and international trade are inevitably intertwined. Internet provides indispensable platform for digital trade and international trade framework provides global discussion and collaboration forum that can further internet policy objectives.

Relevance to Theme: Open, secure and trustworthy internet is a prerequisite for the development of digital trade and an engine of digital economy. The session is an opportunity to discuss synergies and common strategies in enabling safe and open internet whilst facilitating, not inhibiting, international trade. This multidisciplinary discussion will allow for a consideration of a relationship between internet governance principles and international trade policy objectives.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.