Choosing the Right Ruler: Approaches to Measuring Digital Trade

The Conference Board of Canada, 41 pages, November 17, 2021
Impact Paper by
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The pandemic and related global lockdowns have increased the volume of digital trade. As there currently is limited understanding and awareness of digital trade definitions and measurement frameworks, the objective of this paper is to create clarity amid the confusion.

Document Highlights

The pandemic and related lockdowns across the world have increased the volume of digital trade. Businesses and consumers have increasingly turned to online purchases. This impact paper examines the various aspects of digital trade.

We begin by addressing the question of why digital trade matters and why it is important to measure it accurately. We then tackle the question of what digital trade is by reviewing the recently proposed OECD-WTO-IMF conceptual framework for defining and measuring digital trade. Subsequently, we narrow the focus to the Canadian context, discover the main sources of data, and review which digital trade activities are currently captured in official Canadian statistics. Following this, the lens is widened to scan the efforts undertaken by other peer countries to define and measure digital trade, and then benchmark Canadian efforts. The paper finally concludes with some thoughts on what we have learned from this scan and where we could go from here.

Table of Contents

Key Findings
Context
Why Digital Trade Matters
Defining and Measuring Digital Trade
Are Digital Trade and E-Commerce the Same?
Can Only Services Be Digitally Delivered?
How Does Canada Measure and Record Digital Trade?
Summarizing Canada’s Efforts
How Do Other Countries Measure and Report Digital Trade?
Conclusions and Recommendations
Appendix A—Reporting Template for Digital Trade
Appendix B—Surveys on Digital Trade
Appendix C—Methodology
Appendix D—Bibliography

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