Dual Use of Standardization Strategies: Promoting Regional Integration and/or Global Markets
Konstantinos Karachalios, Karen McCabe
Social Science Research Network
This paper discusses how the instruments of standards and standardization, international trade agreements, and government or public policy could collectively help foster economic growth, enhance prosperity through productivity increase, and drive innovation, without raising new protectionist barriers. These instruments should be used in an effective way to empower innovation across borders for an ecologically and socially sustainable prosperity, as -in the same time -the technological, social
... d economic landscapes are undergoing tectonic shifts through: the rapid rate of technological development and convergence, particularly in the ICT sector; increased competition and blurring of boundaries in the digital economy, driven by extensive global connectivity as well as the emergence of global innovation networks and new innovation hubs; national and regional policies having moved to coordinated broader digital approaches aiming at integrating social and economic priorities; and growing challenges affecting cross border goods and information flow and their impact on individuals' rights to a minimal respect of their private sphere in a world of data-driven innovation. The paper will illustrate a potential path for improvement, taking into consideration the current state-of-play of standards regimes, of international and mega-regional trade agreements, and of government policies paradigms. One example that this paper will discuss is that open technology platforms, such as standards developed in a globally open and inclusive, collaborative, and consensus manner, that could be voluntarily adopted and be thus applicable globally, should be explicitly considered in mega-regional agreements. Temptations to use mega-regional dynamics to promote "regional standards" and "export" them globally or use them as a tool to seal the regional market from competition, would create counterforces and could eventually lead to the end of the current globalization era. So, while mega-regionals could pose a threat for the openness of future ICT platforms, including open compatibility, and interoperability standards, they offer also an opportunity for the above mentioned types of standards and processes to be recognized. They could foster an evolution in the definition of what constitutes an "international standard" and "international standards body". The current definitions stem from an era where only a nation-centric standardization model existed, perpetuating thus a concept that predates and is not adequate for the Internet era, and which may lead to national or regional industrial policies with new forms of structural discrimination and protectionism. The paper will discuss how international and mega-regional trade agreements could be used to promote globally open standardization processes and their outcome, as well as supportive regulations, as means to increase economic activity and social inclusiveness in several regions by enhancing cross-border innovation and trade without -at least formal -discriminations across regions.