By Brittany Nawaqatabu, USP Journalism Student

A public webinar will focus on digital trade rules which are being negotiated and agreed to in trade bodies and agreements that cut off the policy space needed to develop industry sectors.

The webinar will be hosted by the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) with the aim to raise awareness and introduce issues the Pacific is facing with digital trade and e-commerce.

PANG Deputy Coordinator and Trade Justice Campaigner, Adam Wolfenden, says it is imperative that Pacific states ensure that any negotiations, trade agreements or agendas pushed by donors don’t undermine data and digital sovereignty of Pacific states.

“The rules of the digital future are being written in trade negotiations, often driven by big tech and the countries which house them. The fact that these negotiations happen in secret makes this webinar all the more important as it will to familiarise people with the key issues, where the Pacific currently is and may negotiate such agreements and what it means for Indigenous knowledges. Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy and it is crucial for Pacific Island Countries and communities to make sure they have a strategy that promotes data sovereignty and culturally appropriate development.”

Experts on this public webinar include the Executive director Anita Gurumurthy from IT for Change, Legal advisor and Senior Researcher Sanya Reid Smith from Third World Network, and Dr Frances Koya from The Pacific Community (SPC).

Wolfenden said this webinar hopes that Pacific states prioritises data sovereignty in digital trade development. “There is a dire need for greater discussion about the external interests pushing digital trade models in the region. A Pacific digital future must reflect and represent Pacific cultures and worldviews.”