Digital trade and digital technical standards

Opportunities for strengthening US, EU and UK cooperation on digital technology governance
Other resource Updated 14 September 2022 Published 24 January 2022 ISBN: 978 1 78413 513 3
Image of components inside the Expanse supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California San Diego, California

There is increasing impetus for stronger cooperation between the US, EU and UK on digital technology governance. Two specific areas of governance in which there is concrete potential to collaborate, and in which policymakers have indicated significant ambitions to do so, are digital trade and digital technical standards.

On digital trade, the US, EU and UK need to demonstrate joint leadership at the global level, including in the World Trade Organization, and develop bilateral and regional approaches to cooperation that build on the latest generation of digital trade agreements.

Collaboration on digital technical standards will involve developing a vision of digital technology governance rooted in multi-stakeholder participation and democratic values. This can provide a strong alternative to proposals such as China’s ‘New IP’ system. Policy actors in the US, EU and UK should seek to expand strategic cooperation on standards development not only among themselves, but also among like-minded countries, and among states undecided on the direction of their technology governance, including in the Global South.

While the recently launched EU-US Trade and Technology Council is a valuable platform to strengthen cooperation, the UK is also an important and agile player that is leading in some areas of digital technology governance.