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Towards a Digital Economy Strategy for the Pacific Alliance?: The Broader Agenda

As originally published in The Pacific Alliance Blog.

The Pacific Alliance Blog interviewed Professor Rodrigo Corredor about his recent article on the Pacific Alliance and its digital economy strategy, published in the Colombian Yearbook of International Law.

Mr Corredor is professor and researcher at Universidad Externado de Colombia in Bogota. He holds a Masters in International Economic Law from the World Trade Institute. He has postgraduates in Intellectual Property, Copyrights and New Technologies from Universidad Externado de Colombia and a postgraduate in Public Management and Administrative Institutions from Los Andes University in Bogota. He is currently a visiting fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines in New Delhi and a researcher and professors at the Department of Economic Law within Universidad Externado de Colombia. He has previously consulted on managing intellectual property and innovation for projects involving the Andean region and the European Union. His research interests are international economic law, intellectual property, the digital economy, trade in services, and regulation. He has written several journal articles and chapters in edited books on these subjects.


Mr Corredor, how did you become interested in the digital economy topic, particularly in the context of the Pacific Alliance?

The digital economy has become a ubiquitous societal topic. Its international trade incidence is undeniable; the impacts of the current uncontrolled developments and expansion of the digital economy will probably be our research field for the coming years. In the specific context of the PA, the digital economy’s regulatory challenge has followed the same path of a regulatory transplant from the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU (GDPR standards), so my concern is to assess the suitability of such approaches.

What are the main social and economic challenges you see in the deepening of the region’s digital economy?

Among the various challenges, I would like to emphasise the cultural impact of digitalisation. So far, people are enjoying the advantages of the digital platforms in terms of a more even access to cultural products that gives us a sense of integration to a globalised cultural agenda. However, the long-term consequences of unlimited access to our personal data can extend to a cultural erosion phenomenon. This effect is something that regulators and political authorities from the PA countries absolutely disregard.

Why do you argue that following a model inspired by the United States’ FTAs and self-regulation results unsuitable for framing sustainable solutions to the complex challenges of deepening the digital economy in the region?

The case for a particular regulatory approach is a difficult one. It will demand a concrete assessment of the effects of digitalisation in our daily lives. The proximity of the continental law approach imbedded in the GDPR makes a priori easier for PA countries to adapt to these standards. However, the coherent transplantation of regulatory standards is likely to be shaped by the authority of administrative and judiciary decisions on recurrent topics such as competition law, consumer protection and certain aspects linked to the gig economy.

Do you envision other models that would be better equipped to respond to the myriad of economic and social challenges arising from the deepening of the Pacific Alliance’s digital economy? If this is the case, could you elaborate on this point?

Departing from reality is essential; nowadays, the PA is a follower in regulating the digital economy. However, a common regulatory approach resulting from coordinated political action by the PA members could be achieved by harmonising case law and regulatory practice deployed until now in each jurisdiction. From this perspective, it is fundamental to review the cases decided by regulators and the judiciary at the local level and leverage a shared understanding of critical issues such as cultural erosion, labour standards, consumer protection, privacy, competition law, etc. This review is crucial to advance towards a standard adapted to the needs and expectations of the PA’s countries.

Why do you maintain that informal/flexible frameworks such as the PA’s make achieving coherence less likely? What is the type of coherence that you refer to in your article? Is it technical or legal?

As the PA’s main attribute, flexibility has also shown its weakness to tackle relevant societal issues. As a matter of fact, none of the regulatory or legal reaction to the tech giants has been prepared or even discussed within the aim to establish a doctrine o standard. At present, there is no common understanding regarding the scope of cross-border data flows or about the convenience of data localisation as part of concerted strategies to protect the privacy of citizens from PA countries. All these apparently disconnected issues are relevant for creating digital ecosystems, and the best way to achieve coherence is through institutionalisation and the legally binding commitments from PA members.

What does a proactive role in studying the impacts of increasing linkages between the digital economy and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) entail?

IPR protection is one of the cornerstones of the current success of the global digital economy. None of the dominant positions enjoyed by tech giants would be possible to achieve without the strategic enforcement of patent clusters. As long as AI and IoT continue to deliver their promises, we will assist in more aggressive IP protection. This reality demands a revision of the existing IPR standards to adapt its flexibilities to the markets’ new digital nature. The PA should play a role in this new architecture of the global intellectual property regime.


If you are interested to know more about Mr Corredor’s work about the Pacific Alliance, please visit our online library featuring his work on the digital economy.
You may also reach out to Mr Corredor at
Mr Corredor’s views in this Blog are personal and do not reflect the policies and opinions of the institutions he is affiliated with.