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Nations agree to draw up rules for free flow of data

Pool photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, speaks at an event related to the digital economy with U.S. President Donald Trump, front left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka on Friday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunOSAKA — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Friday the establishment of the so-called “Osaka Track,” a framework for multilateral negotiations on rules to enable the free flow of data across borders.

The idea was put forward at an event related to digital economy held on the sidelines of the G20 summit. China has agreed to draw up rules together with Japan, the United States and Europe, ensuring the start of genuine negotiations under the framework.

Abe said he was launching the Osaka Track together with 78 countries and regions of the World Trade Organization who share the same goal of promoting the free flow of data under valid rules.

The initiative aims to establish international rules for the flow of data similar to those that exist for goods and services. Parties to the framework are expected to discuss measures to facilitate the cross-border flow of data among corporations, for example, while protecting personal information and intellectual property.

About 80 WTO member countries have already begun to discuss issues related to digital economy. Abe’s declaration aims to serve as the “starting gun” to kick-start full-fledged negotiations. Japan and the other countries aim to achieve concrete results before a WTO ministerial meeting in June 2020.Speech

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