Digitrade Digest #85

AFL-CIO wants to have a bigger say in US digital trade deals, Singapore and Vietnam sign deal to boost digital economy

Webinar: A Tale of Two Data Regimes: Can the EU-Japan Adequacy Decision Be Challenged?


A Tale of Two Data Regimes: Can the EU-Japan Adequacy Decision Be Challenged?

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Feb. 15, 9am ET/3 pm CET

Japan is currently home to two “free data flow areas,” one deemed compliant with EU privacy rules on personal data, namely the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); and the other subject to the rules of recent trade agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the US-Japan Digital Trade Agreement (USJDTA).

A new report from the Digital Trade Alliance, supported by the Digital Freedom Fund, warns that these two sets of rules on data flows are likely incompatible with each other, which means Japan may not be able to comply with one without violating the other. Despite the positive changes to the Japanese data protection framework brought by the alignment with the EU, several concerns remained, particularly around transparency and enforcement. There is an ongoing risk to the privacy of individuals from the conflicting demands that the adequacy agreement and Japan’s trade agreements place on the control of cross-border data flows.

Please come join us on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 9am EST / 3pm CET


  • Javier Ruiz, consultant covering a broad range of digital and technology policy and advocacy area.
  • Dr. Svetlana Iakovleva, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam.
  • Prof. Hiroshi Miyashita, Associate Professor of Law, Faculty of Policy Studies, at Chuo University in Japan


AFL-CIO wants bigger say in U.S. digital trade deals for workers

Reuters: The Biden administration has made digital trade the centerpiece of its trade negotiations, and the AFL-CIO wants a bigger say in how the U.S. Trade Representative’s office sets goals in this area, arguing they are too often dictated by big technology companies.

The largest U.S. labor organization on Tuesday issued a set of principles that it says is needed to protect workers, the public’s privacy and governments’ ability to regulate a rapidly evolving sector as the USTR negotiates digital trade agreements.

The USTR is expected to soon propose text on the digital chapter in negotiations for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the Biden administration’s signature economic agreement.

“To date, U.S. ‘digital trade’ agreements have sought to expand market access for large technology companies by granting broad digital data and intellectual property rights while narrowly constraining the ability of governments (of both the United States and our trade partners) to adopt measures to adopt measures to address the economic transformation,” the AFL-CIO said in its plan.

The heart of the organization’s demands involve ensuring that digital trade agreements are subject to strong and enforceable labor standards, the AFL-CIO said, discouraging the “exploitative” use of “gig” workers who often are deprived of benefits and subjected to difficult working conditions, and discouraging the offshoring of back-office or telemedicine jobs to countries with low labor standards.

But the AFL-CIO’s demands also push back against a key component of recent U.S. trade deals that prohibit countries from imposing “data localization” policies to require data to be stored locally. The renegotiated North American free trade deal, which went into effect in 2020, included such provisions, and USTR has sparred in recent years with countries including India over their plans for such policies, arguing that U.S.-based data platforms should be free to operate anywhere in the world.

The AFL-CIO said that not all data is created equal and in some cases, governments should have the ability to require that individuals’ sensitive personal information, such as medical or biometric data, be kept on-shore to ensure it is safe.


The principles also call for negotiating strong safeguards against misappropriations of voices, images or likenesses that could be used in digital content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

“Corporations shouldn’t dictate the rules of the global digital economy with no regard for working people,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in a statement. “Their drive to monetize data frequently violates crucial privacy rights and exploits workers.”

Other AFL-CIO demands for digital trade negotiations include:

  • Requiring governments to enact strong policies to safeguard individuals’ personal data as opposed to the current largely voluntary “self-regulation” model that has proven inadequate.
  • Facilitate meaningful oversight of source codes and algorithms to ensure compliance with labor laws. The labor group says automated employee monitoring systems and other AI-enabled tools can undermine workers rights and promote discrimination.
  • Address “abusive” employment practices in the technology sector, to discourage the use of contractors and require firms to eliminate labor abuses in their own operations and supply chains.
  • Protect and promote economic security of creative professionals in the United States, including motion picture, television and music industry workers by aggressively addressing the stolen or unlicensed use of copyrighted content on digital platforms.
  • Address the rise of cybercrime by state and private actors by requiring improved cybersecurity standards and a common enforcement agenda.

US to host APEC Senior Officials’ and Ministerial Meetings

TaiwanNews: According to the U.S. Department of State website, a series of meetings in Palm Springs, Detroit, and Seattle, are planned for this year, bringing many different levels of government together to discuss matters of global trade, sustainability, and climate change.

This year’s first APEC meeting will be hosted in Palm Springs, California from Feb.14-28, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Organizations Director General Sharon Wu (吳尚年). The event is billed as the “First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and Related Meetings.”

Wu added that the Taiwan delegation will be led by herself as well as Deputy Finance Minister Juan Ching-hwa (阮清華), and the vice president of the Central Bank will attend the meeting, as per CNA.

Wu said at a MOFA press conference on Feb. 7 that this year’s APEC conference’s theme is “creating a resilient and sustainable future for all parties,” and priority is given to areas of special interest such as “interconnection,” “innovation,” and “inclusion.”

Wu said there will be some 100 related meetings held over a two-week period, discussing a wide range of topics, covering trade and investment, food security, marine fisheries, anti-corruption and transparency, illegal logging, digital economy, women and the economy, telecommunications, health, technology, and innovation issues.


EU-India: new Trade and Technology Council to lead on digital transformation, green technologies and trade

ec.europa.eu: In a rapidly changing geopolitical environment, the EU and India have a common interest in ensuring security, prosperity and sustainable development based on shared values. The TTC will provide the political steer and the necessary structure to coordinate approaches and advance technical work. To lay the groundwork, both sides have agreed to work on critical areas such as connectivity, green technologies and resilient supply chains.

Ministerial meetings of the TTC will rely on the preparatory work of three working groups, which will meet within two weeks to organise their work:

  • Strategic technologies, digital governance and digital connectivity: the group will work jointly on areas of mutual interest such as digital connectivity, Artificial Intelligence, 5G/6G, high performance and quantum computing, semiconductors, cloud systems, cybersecurity, digital skills and digital platforms.
  • Green & clean energy technologies: this group will focus on green technologies, including investment and standards, with emphasis on research and innovation. Areas to be explored could be clean energy, circular economy, waste management, plastic and litter in the ocean. It will also foster cooperation between EU and Indian incubators, SMEs and start-ups.
  • Trade, investment and resilient value chains: the group will work on the resilience of supply chains and access to critical components, energy, and raw materials. It will also work to resolve identified trade barriers and global trade challenges by promoting cooperation in multilateral fora. It will work towards promotion of international standards and cooperation on addressing global geopolitical challenges.

The three strands of bilateral negotiations on trade, investment and geographical indications will continue separately from the TTC. The High-level Trade & Investment Dialogue will remain the principal organ for steering these negotiations. In addition, the EU-India High-level Digital Investment Forum (DIF) may be organised on the margins of the first TTC Ministerial meeting.


Singapore, Vietnam ink deals to boost cooperation in green, digital economies

TheStraitsTimes: In a speech at an Istana official lunch, PM Lee said the longstanding and deep bilateral relationship is anchored by strong political trust and understanding between the leaders from both sides.

Other than economic cooperation and human resource development, he said, there are opportunities to work together in new areas, such as cyber security, carbon credits and sustainable infrastructure.

Singapore and Vietnam share similar outlooks on many regional issues, including a commitment to uphold Asean centrality and unity. “As close partners, Singapore and Vietnam look forward to the friendship growing stronger in the coming years,” said PM Lee.

In his speech, Mr Chinh said more than 50 years of companionship has strengthened the trust and stability in the relationship.

Both challenges and opportunities lie ahead, he said. Vietnam is “ever more determined” to strengthen the depth and substance of the strategic partnership amid a complicated and unpredictable international environment.

“The close bond between our two countries is an invariable factor to respond to an ever-changing world,” said Mr Chinh.

Another agreement signed on Thursday was an economic and trade cooperation work plan between the two countries’ ministries of trade and industry.

It builds on another MOU signed in February 2022, with implementation activities and goals for 2023. These include facilitating collaboration in the digital economy, such as electronic invoicing and e-commerce. Opportunities for business matching between Singapore and Vietnam traders will be explored under the work plan, while cooperation in renewable energy, electricity, liquified natural gas and low-carbon solution projects will be enhanced.