New research: Rules for Digital Trade: the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA)

Today, the world is going through unprecedented changes: as a result of the rapid development of digital technologies, various areas of life are currently undergoing a radical transformation. The methods of manufacturing, consumption and distribution of goods and services are being improved at an ever-increasing pace, curbing trade expenses and making economic relations more efficient.

However, the successful development of technology does not automatically herald an advancement of human well-being, a dynamic increase in trade and the achievement of the necessary level of economic growth. It is crucial to learn how to manage the structural changes fuelled by the development of technology. These changes are cross-border in nature and, therefore, demand a response on the inter-state level.

An efficient way for states to manage these structural changes is by entering into agreements with other countries envisaging new approaches to international trade in the setting of a digital economy. Until recently, such arrangements had largely contained fragmented rules of electronic commerce not capable of serving as a model of effective regulation.

Yet, the situation has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), signed by the Republic of Chile, New Zealand and the Republic of Singapore on June 11, 2020. The document encompasses pre-existing best practices and determines the thrust of development.

The International and Comparative Law Research Center in this study examines the DEPA, seen as a cutting edge agreement in the area of digital trade and economy, in order to give momentum to the subsequent evolution of corresponding regulations, including those involving Russia in the context of its membership in the EAEU. While working on this study, we aimed to determine the factors underlying the introduction of the agreement, one of a new generation in this sphere; analyze the modular approach of the DEPA as a special drafting technique fitting its aims; and provide an overview of the rules agreed upon by the Parties.