Parliamentary report calls on government to publish its digital trade and data strategy

Tue 29 Jun 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The House of Commons Select Committee on International Trade’s latest report, Digital Trade and Data, calls on the government to clarify its position regarding digital trade and data.

Published yesterday (Monday 28 June), the report by the cross-party committee features evidence gathered from across the economy, including from the Institute of Export & International Trade, about the challenges of trade digitalisation.

The report acknowledges the government is committed to helping businesses make the most of digitisation.

However, it also points out that the government’s approach is not joined-up enough and there needs to be a comprehensive strategic overview of how the Department for International Trade, and indeed government more generally, approaches digital trade.

Singapore deal

The report comes as the UK and Singapore start negotiations on a ground-breaking digital economy agreement (DEA) to open up opportunities for British business to deliver their services.

Meanwhile British data protection standards have been deemed ‘adequate’ by the EU following more than a year of talks.The decision, which was welcomed by the UK government, will allow personal data to continue to flow between the UK and EU without the need for additional arrangements.

Call to clarify

In the Select Committee's report, the MPs’ top recommendation was:

“…that the government produces and publishes a digital trade and data strategy, clarifying the UK’s approach to digital trade and positioning it in relation to prominent approaches taken by other states.

“We recommend it detail the government’s long-term approach and policy objectives in relation to digital trade and data.

“The strategy should also include how domestic policies will interact with the United Kingdom’s FTA, multilateral, and plurilateral commitments in securing the government’s long term economic and non-economic digital trade objectives.”

IOE&IT position on GDPR referenced

MPs also voiced concerns about risks to UK citizens’ data outside the EU’s stringent GDPR regime, quoting the IOE&IT’s submission that there is “not a binary choice” between GDPR adequacy for trade with the EU and the strictures of other trading blocs such as CPTPP, which the UK is negotiating to join.

They also recognised concerns that have been raised about consumer protection and access to source codes. There was commendation for the robust approach to reducing online harms that the government has taken in trade negotiations so far.