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Big Tech Goes For the Kill at the World Trade Organization

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Republished from in partnership with Lynn Fries /

Big Tech Goes For the Kill at the World Trade Organization Deborah James on why we need to pay attention to proposed changes in global rules. Amid our pressing concerns with health and economic recovery, Big Tech ...
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Deborah James on why we need to pay attention to proposed changes in global rules. Big Tech works to ensure technology and world trade operate for their benefit post-COVID and beyond. GPENewsdocs.

Lynn Fries /


LYNN FRIES: Hello and welcome. I'm Lynn Fries producer of Global Political Economy or GPEnewsdocs.

While most countries are focused on coping with COVID-19 and its aftermath, some rich countries are pursuing an expansionist free trade agenda at the World Trade Organization. One example of this in an effort underway to establish new rules globally for digital trade.

Digital Trade Rules: A Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy By and for Big Tech authored by Deborah James was the topic of a recent book launch and webinar. This report features highlights of of some key points contributed by Deborah James at the webinar. We go now to our featured clips.

DEBORAH JAMES: Thank you so much to the Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung for publishing the paper and for organizing this seminar. And to Roland and to all my excellent co-panelists.

Welcome everyone and thank you for being here today. Just to say Our World Is Not For Sale is a global network of about 250 groups from the Global North and South from about 50 different countries. And we oppose the current model of corporate globalization. And we work together for a democratic, sustainable and fair multilateral trading system

So today I am going to share with you 3 major points. We're here to talk about the digital trade rules that the Big Tech corporations are pushing in the WTO and in other forums. So I'm going to talk about the origin of the talks. Why are we having this discussion? I'll give you a brief status update and then I'm going to focus on the implication of the rules.

So a couple of the basic points: Technology obviously can stimulate prosperity and development. It can bring us closer together and help build sustainable livelihoods. We are not anti-technology. But it can also constrain development. It can exacerbate inequalities. And it can destroy jobs and ways of life.

So whether countries, workers and consumers everywhere will benefit from new technology or whether the benefits will only accrue to a teeny tiny minority will be determined by the rules which set the playing field for how digitalization will evolve over time. And the important point is who is setting those rules.

Now, one of the best investments that corporations can make is to change the rules under which they operate so that they can extract greater profits from the economy while preventing their competitors from having a level playing field.

Now, powerful corporations have long used their surplus profits to invest in the undemocratic practice of trade policy-making. To use trade agreements to lock-in rules promoting their rights to make profits; while limiting government's ability to regulate them in the public interest. Often through policies that they could not have advanced through democratic channels.

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