Author Archives: Hein Roelfsema


T20 Taskforce 1: Trade, Investment and Growth. T20 Secretariat, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Drake-Brockman, J. (lead author) et al.(2020).






This Policy Brief is available on the T20 website READ FULL POLICY BRIEF

The full set of Policy Briefs for all T20 Taskforces can be accessed here

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

In T20 Policy Brief 4: Impact of Digital Technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Trade in Services, the eight co-authors from the TIISA Network, including the coordinator, formally acknowledged support from the EU Jean Monnet Network. The acknowledgment appears on page 18 of the Policy Brief.

All policy briefs were developed and written by the authors and have undergone a peer review process. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the authors’ organisations or the T20 Secretariat.

T20 Policy Brief 4: Impact of Digital Technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Trade in Services

During 2020, the TIISA Network proposed a Policy Brief on Trade in Services to the THINK 20 Secretariat under Saudi Arabia as the G20 host for 2020.

The proposal was accepted and Jane Drake-Brockman was nominated as Coordinating author.

The coverage of the proposal was broadened on request to include Digital Technologies and the 4th Industrial Revolution and an additional seven authors from other institutions.

The outcome is T20 Policy Brief 4: Impact of Digital Technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Trade in Services: for T20 Taskforce 1: Trade, Investment and Growth,

This policy brief was developed and written by the authors and has undergone a peer review process. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the authors’ organisations or the T20 Secretariat. The Eight co-authors from the TIISA Network, including the coordinator, formally acknowledged support from the EU Jean Monnet Network.

The acknowledgment appears on page 18 of the Policy Brief

Read the full set of Policy Briefs for all T20 Taskforces


TIISA Annual Conference : Servicification – Call for Papers

The Jean Monnet TIISA NETWORK invites submissions for the 2020 Conference.

Theme: Servicification
In line with the Network’s interdisciplinary character, this includes papers in the fields of law, political science, business & economics.

Conference co-hosted by:
China Institute for WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing (UIBE)
The Institute for International Trade (IIT) The University of Adelaide

CONFERENCE: November 9,10,12,13
Phd WORKSHOP: November 4 & 6

5.30pm – 7.00pm (ACTD) Adelaide Time
3.00pm – 5.30pm (CST) Beijing Time

4 Conference sessions are proposed:

  1. Servicification: Global, Regional and Economy‐Specific Drivers and Trends
  2. Servicification: Modern Manufacturing and Services: Industry Case Studies
  3. Servicification: The 4th Industrial Revolution and the Digitalisation of the Economy
  4. Servicification: Implications for International Trade Governance

Submission Deadlines:
30 September 2020 – Conference
25 October 2020 – PhD Workshop

Submissions emailed to:

Conference Organisers:
Professor TU Xinquan – China Institute for WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economic in Beijing, China

Professor Jane Drake-Brockman – Institute for International Trade, The University of Adelaide

Working together, IIT and UIBE aim to provide a safe and accessible way for the Jean Monnet Network on Trade & Investment in Services to come together as a Research Network in Annual Conference format during 2020. The intention is to provide small place-based Conference venues at both IIT, Adelaide and UIBE, Beijing for those able to come together face-to-face.
This will enable some socially distanced local audience interaction and provide place-based audiences with group access to larger communal screens for online presentations. All presenters will have a choice in the manner of presentation: place-based, online or
pre-recorded video.









OPINION PIECE – Australia-Singapore Digital Trade Agreement: Setting new benchmarks in Trade Governance

By Jane Drake-Brockman, Industry Professor, Institute for International Trade, The University of Adelaide.

Australia has achieved its most comprehensive deal on digital trade. The government has put down clear markers for other bilateral and regional trade negotiations, including with the EU; and taken a global leadership role, along with Singapore, in signalling vital directions for the WTO negotiations on Electronic Commerce (e-commerce).

What is the Digital Economy Agreement?

The Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) is a key new pillar of the bilateral Comprehensive Security Partnership signed in 2016. It also updates and replaces the e-commerce chapter in the Singapore/Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) originally signed in 2003. Two decades later, how much further have the two parties managed to go in extending the digital trade architecture?

This agreement is not about market access, and for example leaves untouched the SAFTA text and schedules of commitments on cross-border trade in services. Rather, the DEA’s goal is to go further in digital trade rule-making than the original SAFTA.

The text moves away from the increasingly antiquated, unhelpfully narrow notion of “e-commerce” in international trade negotiation. The coverage is more comprehensive on issues related to data flows, and in facilitating wide-spread bilateral technological and regulatory cooperation for the digital age. Importantly, this helps shift the focus of international rule-making to the issues in greatest need of updating.

In this article, I go straight to the objectives which tend to be highest priority for regional business yet also the most fraught in the global inter-governmental struggle to reduce regulatory heterogeneity and build interoperability in digital trade.

Allowing Commercial Traffic in Data

One key objective is to achieve interoperability with respect to regulations protecting personal data privacy. The DEA’s Article 17 encourages development of mechanisms to promote compatibility between the parties’ regimes including via international frameworks. While not new, the innovation lies in provision of more details on the principles to which such regimes should abide. It also specifically supports the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules as a valid mechanism to facilitate cross-border data flows.

Article 23.2 affirms the freedom of commercial cross-border data flows, including of personal information. Exceptions apply for legitimate public policy objectives (LPPOs) as long as there is no unjustifiable discrimination or disguised restriction on trade nor restrictions greater than required to achieve the objective.

This language goes beyond the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) for example, because it is inclusive of financial services. What is important here is the continued alignment of the DEA with the US/Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA). Australia and Singapore, as chair and co-convenor respectively of the WTO negotiations on E-Commerce, thereby reaffirm their positions that this model of trade governance is best practice.

The same is not quite true of Article 24. Like the USMCA, it bans data localisation requirements as a condition for conducting business in the parties’ territory. Unlike the USMCA, but like the original SAFTA chapter, it continues to allow exceptions for LPPOs. Possibly Australia and Singapore have retained this flexibility in order to offer the text as a potential means of solving problems in the WTO.

The DEA also introduces a separate provision disciplining data localisation requirements for financial services. There is no broad exception for LPPOs, but specific prudential exceptions do apply.

No Customs Duties on E-Transactions

Another objective is how to make the WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on E-Transactions permanently binding. This soft law device, currently extended only until the next WTO Ministerial Meeting, faces opposition from members with protectionist digital industrial policies. Tariffs are a protectionist instrument used till now only for trade in goods. The notion that they might ever be imposed on e-services brings great anxiety to Australian and Singaporean services industries. The original SAFTA and the new DEA, like CPTPP and USMCA, ban customs duties on e-transactions – but do not preclude internal taxes. The application of trade-related disciplines to digital services taxation looms as the next contentious multilateral agenda item.

No Discrimination against Digital Products

The DEA bans less favourable treatment for digital products except broadcasting (digital products are defined as computer programmes, text, video, image or sound recordings that are digitally encoded and transmitted electronically). It permits subsidies and government grants. This is not new, either. But such text continues to cross a red line for the EU: with whom Australia has always otherwise been aligned in the WTO on retaining freedom for domestic support of creative and cultural services content. It’s time now to move trade policy mindsets from the analogue to the digital age. So watch this space in the Australia-EU FTA negotiations.

Protect Intellectual Property (IP)

The DEA bans any requirement for access to software source code as a precondition for market access. This goes well beyond the original SAFTA chapter which only applied to mass market software. Furthermore, by including bespoke software the new discipline will have special benefits to SME exporters. The DEA also contains an innovative MFN-forward commitment: if either party enters a similar agreement with a third party, the DEA provision automatically applies to the software source code algorithms of the third party.

This includes evolving algorithms so this provision meets industry requests in effectively granting IP for artificial intelligence (AI). The EU, which appears to remain hesitant on AI, especially in financial services, will no doubt take note.

Facilitate Trade by Building Digital Trust

This is the nuts and bolts part of the Agreement. Mutual recognition of digital identities, e-authentication and e-signatures, e-invoicing, paperless trading, express shipments, online facilitation of e-payments, consumer protection, spam, open government data, submarine telecommunications connection, cybersecurity: the DEA inches forward incrementally on multiple fronts of regulatory cooperation. The Agreement shows how Australia and Singapore (both in leadership roles in the WTO negotiations on E-Commerce) are jointly shaping the enabling environment for global digital trade.

This includes international digital standards development and compliance as the fundamental enabling bedrock for digital market access. The two parties have agreed to work more intensively in international fora and to identify priorities for further bilateral and regional work. This is high priority for regional business and the DEA at last gives the matter full attention.

Intensify Regulatory Cooperation

Regulatory cooperation is critical to building mutual confidence in regulatory regimes across jurisdictions. It is essential to paving the way for mutual recognition of equivalence and greater harmonisation across borders. The DEA makes big strides forward on the regulatory cooperation front. It contains new provisions on cooperation on competition policy and on efforts to counter terrorism financing and money laundering. It is accompanied by seven agency-level MoUs, setting out a detailed bilateral agenda for sharing information and developing regulatory best practices on a broad scale, including experimenting in regulatory sandboxes for joint data innovation, and developing ethical frameworks for AI.

Where to next?

Australia is negotiating separate bilateral trade agreements with the EU27 and with the UK. Based on experience negotiating e-services issues with the EU28 for the plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (in deep freeze under the current US Administration), Australian stakeholders know the EU red lines and anticipate that digital trade, together with geographic indicators, will be the key deal breakers in bilateral negotiations with the EU, but probably not with the UK.

The DEA strongly reasserts long-standing Australian and Singaporean positions on cross-border data flows and data localisation, with full support from both business communities. This bolsters both governments’ positions in the WTO negotiations on E-Commerce. Australia, as chair of those negotiations, can take the high ground on commercial cross-border flows of personal data and wait till the US Administration is ready to hammer it out with the EU.

By Jane Drake-Brockman, Industry Professor, Institute for International Trade, The University of Adelaide.

The views expressed here are the author’s, and may not represent the views of the Institute for International Trade.

Research Grants Round 2


Round 2: Deadline for applications is Monday 14 September 2020 (5pm CEST)

The Jean Monnet NetworkTrade & Investment in Services Associates (TIISA) brings together leading academics across Europe, Asia and Australia and key institutions  – Sussex University, University of Adelaide, Örebro University, National Tsing Hua University, Utrecht University, University of International Business and Economics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, World Trade Institute in research on domestic regulation and global governance of services trade and investment flows.

The TIISA Network is currently offering research grants of between €500 – €5000 to support research in the field of trade and investment in services and which improves knowledge of or contributes to the process of European economic integration in services.

All research outputs must be delivered no later than 30 November 2021 and preferably sooner. Research outcomes are expected to be published in edited volumes and in peer-reviewed journals and disseminated to the broader public through the Jean Monnet TIISA Network Working Paper series located on .

Eligible candidates

  • TIISA Associates and their extended network (must be sponsored by a TIISA participant)
  • Post Doc and Early Career Researchers from TIISA participant institutions
  • PhD Students or Potential PhD Qualifying Students (must be sponsored by a TIISA participant)

Eligible expenses

Travel* (economy flights only), accommodation, conference fees, research materials including stationary, databases and software,  telecommunications, publication expenses, research assistance and editing.

Applications may be received from TIISA Associates seeking research assistance.

Applications may also be received by individuals proposing to provide the research assistance under the supervision of a TIISA Associate.

Selection criteria

  • Relevance of Research Topic to TIISA Network goals
  • Strength of research ability / supervision
  • Likelihood of completion within the TIISA project timeline
  • Likelihood of publication outcome/ presentation at TIISA Annual conference/PhD Workshop
  • Likelihood of impact by improving knowledge of trade and investment in services/ EU approach to regional economic integration in services /developing links between TIISA partners and extended networks

Targeted research themes include:

  • Services trade and investment policy-making and implementation
  • Digital aspects of the EU Services Directive and single market and the implications for harmonisation of domestic regulation across the EU Member States
  • Best practice in managing global and regional mobility of services providers
  • EU approach to Investor/State Dispute Settlement
  • Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on global and EU trade in services
  • Digital trade and e-commerce

Information for applicants

  • Round 2 Application closing date 5pm Brussels time, Monday 14 September 2020
  • TIISA Project Deadline for final paper submission 30 November 2021
  • Email your application form to

Download the application form

Round 1 Awarded Research Grants

The TIISA Network is pleased to announce that a total of 20,000 euros of research grant funds have been awarded to the first round of successful applicants, listed below.

Professor Jane Drake-Brockman Institute for International Trade, The University of Adelaide
Professor Hein Roelfsema Utrecht University
Radka Sabolova – PhD Student Orebro University
Aili Tang – Researcher Orebro University
Harry Wardana – PhD Student Institute for International Trade, The University of Adelaide
Yi Zhang – Associate Professor Xian Jioatong University