Digital forces driving the new protectionist agenda

Protectionism continues to be a force in 2018 as the global economic debate rumbles on. With no sign of slowing down, protectionism is no longer a new concern, ballooning to a key global economic debate.

Our latest research shows there is a new frontier of global protectionism; In Protectionism 2.0, we explore the digital forces driving the new protectionist agenda.

Digital protectionism

Furthering our inaugural report, 'Global Protectionism: Are You Leaving Yourself Open', in which Gowling WLG revealed that the world's top 60 economies have adopted more than 7,000 protectionist trade measures since 2008 - Protectionism 2.0 focuses the lens on data, putting the world's largest economies under the digitally protectionist microscope.

Away from the flow of physical goods entering and leaving different countries, Gowling WLG's latest report is concerned with the flow of data between governments, businesses and consumers, as well as the raw materials needed to power the technological revolution.

Protectionism 2.0 moves beyond the tariff and non-tariff barriers imposed, relaxed and then re-imposed between countries, regions and trading blocs and into a world which many businesses may not yet have considered when setting an internationally focused strategy for their business.

This ground-breaking report into the digital forces driving the new protectionist agenda, examines data in two key areas:

  • Data protectionism: Laws on the restriction of data between countries and to what extent different geopolitical areas are subject to isolationist data policies.
  • Protectionism and tech's raw materials: The supply and demand to the raw materials that power our smart homes, smartphones and electric vehicles (including minerals and metals), and how fluctuations in supply chains can give rise to protectionism.

Delving ever further into protectionism, the report plugs this newly examined data into our previous research in an effort to understand if there is a new world order emerging within the digital protectionism space, concerned with:

  • The extent to which a country is driving protectionism overall;
  • The extent to which a country is digitally protectionist; and
  • Those countries with high mineral reserves/production holding the keys to the burgeoning digital economy.

Mapping Digital Protectionism

By studying data policies alongside digital legislation in key international jurisdictions we've been able to build a digital protectionism heat map, offering market-leading insight into global data protectionism and the protectionism of tech's raw minerals.

To understand how digital protectionism affects various countries, we looked at several key measures, including; digital intellectual property rights, to censorship and filtering, and data localisation requirements.

The results are startling - countries which have historically driven protectionist policies through tariff and other trade barriers are now extending their agenda into the digital world.

By examining this relationship between the data and digital legislation globally we can see more 'traditionally' protectionist markets tend to be more digitally protectionist too. However, at a global level the picture is highly fragmented, and different regional dynamics around the world are happening at different speeds.

For a full overview of our digital protectionism findings globally, see the heat map, raising interesting questions for experts to consider. Simply click on a country to learn more:

Protectionism 2.0 reveals an astounding correlation between countries pursuing digitally protectionist policies and the level of mineral deposits needed to power the digital revolution; identifying China, Russia, India, Vietnam, Argentina and Turkey as the six global players when it comes to charging a digital economy.

Not only do the identified countries have a strong track record in imposing trade barriers and tariffs on imports, they also have a high number of restrictive data laws and large deposits of the vital raw materials needed to make smartphones, connected devices and batteries for electric vehicles.

Download the Protectionism 2.0 report for further insight and a complete breakdown of the findings.

Further Insight into Digital Protectionism

Our research and commitment to supporting and guiding General Counsel and their businesses, as well as CEOs and industry leaders both within and outside of the legal sector, through protectionism will carry on well into 2019 and beyond.

Explore the heat map data and download our inaugural report, 'Global Protectionism: are you leaving yourself open?'.

In 2018, Gowling WLG also spoke to experts from across key sectors such as intellectual property, real estate, tech, and automotive and manufacturing, to talk about America's role in global protectionism. These corresponding reports are available to download via the industry tabs above.

More on Protectionism

If you'd like to talk to anyone from Gowling WLG about protectionism and our latest report, please contact Michael Luckman, David Lowe or Bernardine Adkins.

Download our exclusive report on the rise of digital protectionism

Discover the digital forces driving the new protectionist agenda and understand what a new era of data protectionism means for your business.

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