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  • The popular trope in recent years has it that

  • we are witnessing the end of an era of globalization.

  • That may turn out to be true.

  • But it's probably not the end of globalization that we're seeing.

  • It's the advent of a new era of globalization in which data flows are the new shipping containers.

  • Between 2008 and 2013, cross-border internet flows grew seven-fold.

  • And by 2025, they predict those cross-border flows

  • could be worth more than the current global trade in goods, or some 20 trillion dollars.

  • Much of that is obvious; it has to do with new technologies like smartphones,

  • but our cars are data emitters, too.

  • Drive a new Audi or BMW, and you'll find it's sending data back to engineers in Germany.

  • We live in an age where the global trade and some spare parts

  • just means sending an email file to a bank of 3D printers in a far off land.

  • Of course, that assumes that governments don't get in the way.

  • But we're already seeing the advent of digital protectionism.

  • China's "Great Firewall" is as much as about protecting global high-tech industries

  • and champions like Alibaba from international competition as it is about censorship.

  • Across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, governments are using privacy rules

  • to restrain data flows and requiring companies to keep local servers.

  • Research has shown digital protectionism can restrict a nation's GDP growth by up to 1.7 percentage points.

  • So the next major trade battle could well be over data localization.

  • Call it globalization 3.0 if you want, but a new era is definitely taking hold.

The popular trope in recent years has it that

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B1 US globalization data trade advent digital global

The boom in digital trade: how data are replacing physical goods

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    Lilian Chang posted on 2017/10/19
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