WTO Working Papers

WTO working papers usually represent research in progress. Such research may be conducted in the preparation of WTO Secretariat reports, studies or other material for WTO members. The papers are circulated for comment because the WTO considers critical review of professional research to be extremely important.


Understanding Trade in Digitized Ideas

What are the statistical challenges?

Advances in information and communications technologies (ICTs) and new business models have widened opportunities for trade in digitized ideas, shaping global value chains and production networks in cultural or creative goods and services. However, much of this trade has eluded conventional categorization and new business models. In particular multinational firms have blurred the way international transactions can be recorded and how this can be transformed into relevant statistics for policy makers, research and for businesses themselves. Recent international statistical guidelines have suggested a number of improvements to better respond to policy information needs, including in the area of trade, innovation or culture. However, a number of questions remain unanswered. The objective of the paper is therefore to trace the conceptual and empirical statistical picture and assess the quality of existing statistics and the extent to which important trade in digitized ideas is inadequately measured. It discusses conceptual issues, and constraints encountered in gaining a full picture. A number of possible data collection and compilation solutions are suggested to enable a better understanding of this trade.


Keywords: Statistics, Trade, International, Digitization, Culture, Ideas
JEL: F23: International Economics / International Factor Movements and International Business / Multinational Firms; International Business; L23: Industrial Organization / Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior / Organization of Production; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; C82: Mathematical and Quantitative Methods / Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs / Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access; L86: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Services / Information and Internet Services; Computer Software; L82: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Services / Entertainment; Media; L81: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Services / Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce; Z1: Other Special Topics / Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology
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