Are the digital and inclusive growth agendas compatible? Implications for trade policy in developing countries

South Africa - 2 July 2019

Trade topics: Digital Trade, E-commerce, Trade and Development, Trade Policy

Can the digital economy help to alleviate the problem of inequality and forge more inclusive growth or will it exacerbate divisions as time goes by, to the detriment of those countries (including South Africa, India and Brazil) that have among the most unequal societies in the world? And what are the implications for trade policy, especially in developing countries?

These were the questions that Wilma Viviers (WTO Chair and research professor) and Ali Parry (extraordinary research scientist) from North-West University’s TRADE research entity tackled in the paper they presented at the WTO Chairs Programme Annual Conference in Geneva, Switzerland on 2 July 2019.In their paper, titled ‘Are digital advances and inclusive growth compatible goals? Implications for trade policy in developing countries’, they explored what inclusive growth – which is often but sometimes carelessly referred to in commentaries and debates – actually means, drawing on an extensive body of literature that provides both broad descriptions and more nuanced, quantitative measures. They also reflected on the digital era and its various manifestations (including e-commerce, robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing) and whether there is a discernible alignment in the goals and patterns of digital growth and inclusive growth, respectively.

Author(s): Wilma Viviers, Ali Parry and Adelia Jansen van Rensburg