Declaration of the 5th WITSA Global Policy Action and Trade Summit

The São Paulo Declaration

In November 2013, representatives from more than 30 nations gathered in São Paulo, Brazil for the 5th WITSA Global Policy Action and Trade Summit (GPATS), to consider effective public policies to deliver the promises of the Digital Age

Speakers and delegates observed that in just two years since WITSA’s last Policy Summit (Guadalajara, Mexico;

October 2011), significant progress was made by most of the world’s governments in developing and implementing digital agendas that enable and support the significant transformational impact of ICT and other digital technologies. This reflects many of the actions WITSA recommended in its policy actions document1 released in 2011. More is being done online, everywhere, and more is planned, enabling people, wherever they

are, to connect to services, commerce, friends and contacts, and to engage and participate in society – locally, nationally and globally. These transformations are unrelenting, and accelerating such that in many, many different and significant ways, creative application of these technologies is improving lives and societies, health and education, solving formerly impossible problems, informing, empowering and enabling humankind wherever there is access.

Nevertheless, in 2012, delegates to WITSA’s 18th World Congress on Information Technology, held in Montreal,

Canada expressed concern to ensure the foundation layer on which all this relies – Internet access – continues to be developed through open, light and transparent governance, and with investment in infrastructure and connectivity, encouraged by a competitive and supportive business environment.

GPATS participants again highlighted that over the past year and looking forward, there are significant challenges to access. Disclosures about information protection, in particular, are encouraging governments to seek greater control, both of governance arrangements, and of information flowing across their jurisdictions. The

adverse consequences of this response – especially global fragmentation, and isolation – must be recognized, and avoided. Unilateral actions intended to protect citizens have been shown, time and again, to cause harm, impose costs, and reduce technology access and choice. Paradoxically, actions to reduce regulation and protection clearly promote access, innovation and economic growth.

WITSA underscores the importance for all governments, stakeholder organizations and business leaders to work together on these issues to ensure these technologies, and the benefits of their application are available to all, and to avoid unilateral protective measures. This especially extends to trade negotiations, where GPATS participants highlighted the trend towards bilateral and regional agreements, which are inherently discriminatory, and a departure from multilateral trade liberalization arrangements long championed by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ahead of the WTO Bali Ministerial Meeting in December, WITSA urges all nations to recommit to the “most favoured nation”2 and “national treatment”3 principles, and to the rapid removal of trade barriers. The benefits of trade liberalization are proven to flow especially to the poorest nations, boosting incomes, increasing welfare and lifting millions out of poverty."

At the 5th GPATS in São Paulo, representatives gather and declare to remove barriers to trade and avoid any actions that may limit access by all the world’s people to the Internet, so that – respecting privacy and security principles – everyone can participate and receive its benefits, and thus deliver the promises of the Digital Age.

WITSA's São Paulo Declaration is its fifth, drawn from its program of annual summits and congresses and builds on the 2009 Bermuda Declaration, the 2010 Amsterdam Declaration, the 2011 Guadalajara Declaration and the 2012 Montreal Declaration4.

  1. Publication: "Policy Actions to Deliver the Promise of the Digital Age" (link; see WITSA website).
  2. Countries cannot discriminate between their trading partners
  3. Imported and locally produced goods and services must be treated equally
  4. Links - see WITSA website)

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