A New Silk Road?
Author: Rohan Kariyawasam
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
In this well researched book, the author explains the digital divide and its repercussions for developed and developing nations. In his view, the overzealous disciplining at the WTO-level of instruments affecting trade notwithstanding, developing countries still have important tools in their hands (intellectual property protection, competition policies, tax regimes) that can help them attract foreign direct investment, a crucial ingredient in reducing the current divide. Borrowing from the institutions that we have seen developed in international economic relations is highly recommended as well. In short, whether the divide will continue to persist or, conversely, whether it will gradually become a historical feature of international relations critically depends on the political will on both sides (of the divide). The author makes a persuasive argument to support his thesis, empirically researched and with strong foundations in theory. Petros C. Mavroidis, Columbia Law School, US and University of Neuch'tel, Switzerland This path-breaking book focuses on the WTO, e-commerce and information communications technologies. It sheds light on how international economic law can be used as a tool in the application of technological processes to facilitate development in developing countries. Rohan Kariyawasam begins by looking predominantly at the rise of international digital networks. He offers an introduction to the networks used in the delivery of electronic products and network-based transactions, and the application of WTO law to the sector. He then suggests how developing countries can use economic law and technology to tap digital markets in the developed world. The book also argues that the advance of basic living standards in some developing countries can be achieved through technological processes, but that this cannot happen without such states paying greater attention to the enforcement of economic, social and cultural rights at home. Picking up the property rights debate (including through bilateral trade), the author argues that ensuring beneficial technology transfer will require balancing foreign investor rights to protect intellectual property. It will also involve restrictions imposed by competition law and WTO surveillance to check the possible misuse of market power by multinational companies. The proposed mixture of measures should, he argues, provide incentives for Foreign Direct Investment. Providing a thorough review of the application of WTO law to the telecommunications sector and the regulation of international digital networks, this book will be of great interest to postgraduate students in international economic law and international development law, as well as those interested in human rights law and technology. It will also appeal to government regulators, NGOs and technologists interested in ICTs and development.