Just over a year ago, on December 31, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law new personal data localization requirements, mandating that data operators collecting personal data about Russian citizens “record, systematize, accumulate, store, amend, update and retrieve” data using databases physically located in Russia. Among other things, passage of the new law generated immediate concerns regarding its scope, implementation, and implications. On August 3, 2015, less than a month before the new law was to take effect, the Russian Ministry of Communications and Mass Media published official “guidelines”, largely in the form of FAQs, in an attempt to “clarify” the law and address some of the questions and concerns it generated. http://www.minsvyaz.ru/ru/personaldata/ (in Russian). Nevertheless, one question that has remained unanswered since the law has gone into effect (September 1, 2015) is whether the law introduces trade restrictions that violate World Trade Organization regulations. Russia has been a WTO member since August 2012. Continue reading “Russia’s data localization law – a violation of WTO regulations?”
WTO Nixes China’s Restrictions on Rare Earth Exports
In early 2012, the United States sought a World Trade Organization (WTO) consultation regarding China’s restrictions on the export of tungsten and molybdenum — forms of “rare earths.” These rare earths are raw materials that are used in the production of some electronics products. Subsequently, the European Union, Japan and Canada requested to join the consultation. China then accepted the request for a WTO consultation.
In support of the restrictions, China argued that they are related to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources. China also asserted that they are needed to reduce mining pollution.
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New WTO Information Technology Agreement May Do Away With Duties
The imposition of duties on the global trade of technology products is significant from a monetary standpoint.
However, Reuters reports that a potential agreement among the United States, China, the European Union and almost two dozen other countries that could eliminate billions of dollars of such duties might be achieved as soon as within the next two months.
At issue is the negotiation of a possible expansion of the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement. The Agreement is a pact from the late 1990s that ended duties on a wide array of technology products. These products include laptops, computers, telephones, fax machines, software, semi-conductors and some office machines.
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