Call for papers: “Trade in Knowledge: Economic, Legal and Policy Aspects”


The World Trade Organization invites proposals for papers for an edited, scholarly volume on knowledge flows in international trade, and their implications for policymakers.
It is now more than 22 years since the WTO TRIPS Agreement entered into force, setting intellectual property (IP) standards at the centre of multilateral trade rules. The period since then has seen a fundamental transformation in the scale, diversity, and very nature of cross-border commercial transactions in knowledge and knowledge products. An array of technological, economic, social and policy factors drives this transformation and diversification. These developments were briefly outlined in a brochure, Changing the Face of IP Trade and Policy-Making, published by the WTO on its 20th anniversary in 2015.
We now plan an authoritative, in-depth scholarly publication that maps the economic, legal and policy aspects of current trends in trade in knowledge. The volume is intended to serve as a conceptual and empirical foundation for a renewed set of policy discussions, capacity building and technical assistance for governments seeking to engage with the knowledge economy for development, through new trade, business and employment opportunities.
The volume will focus on the legal character and economic implications of international transactions that facilitate the transfer or diffusion of new knowledge and intangible content, through traditional trade channels and new forms of business and knowledge transfer. We therefore seek economists interested in measuring how knowledge crosses international borders in different ways, and in analysing time-trends, geographical spread, the nature and speed of diffusion, and the role of economic actors in different sectors. We also seek legal and policy scholars interested in mapping the changing laws, regulations and policies that govern such trade, and analysing the legal character of knowledge transactions in today’s international economy.
This volume is intended to consolidate and collate the most relevant, recently published or unpublished research and descriptive work on these themes, so as to provide a comprehensive information platform for policymakers.
Several eminent authors working in the area of IP and trade, including leading international scholars and analysts from national IP offices, have already expressed their interest in contributing to this volume.
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The broad research questions the book will address include:
1. How can we measure different forms of global cross-border flows of knowledge and knowledge products, including digital content? What can we say from the relevant data about the scale, and geographical and time trends (for example, pre-TRIPS and post-TRIPS) of such flows?
2. What legal and policy questions are raised by current trends in cross-border knowledge flows?
3. What can we say about the effects of knowledge flows on economic development, growth, and productivity; domestic innovation; technology transfer; trade, especially high tech trade and trade in digital content; and the development opportunities afforded by new avenues for trade and employment?
4. What is the relationship of such knowledge flows to improved creation of and access to global public goods, especially technologies for agriculture, health and climate change, and ICT?
5. What can we say about the legal and economic character of trade in digital content covered by IPRs, including issues arising from global or regional regulatory frameworks, new business models for content distribution, and cross-border licensing and enforcement?
6. What is the current experience in specific sectors, and in markets for IPRs as such, and what insights does this experience offer policymakers?
Papers mapping and analysing the role of trade in newly created knowledge covered by IPRs are particularly welcome, whether general in scope or sector-specific. Papers that provide descriptive statistics on the measurement of the size, time-dimensions and geographical diffusion of knowledge and those that study the policies or actions that help such knowledge flows will also be relevant. It is understood that the proposed time frame offers little scope for significant new empirical work; hence papers that draw wider conclusions from existing data and empirical analysis would be valued.
Submissions Submissions
Prospective authors are invited to submit an abstract, outline, or draft paper for consideration for this project before 30 January 2018. Initial submissions should give reviewers enough detail to enable a fair understanding of the work to be expected in the final paper, as well as an indication of the methodological approach, data used and the likely policy implications should be provided.
We will respond to submissions by mid-February 2018 with advice of those selected for possible inclusion. Full drafts of selected papers will then need to be made available by 31 July 2018. Following a rigorous referee process, selected papers will be considered for publication in the edited volume. Only papers tailored to address the specific research questions asked will be considered by the selection committee.
Submissions should be sent to under the subject “WTO edited book on Trade in Knowledge.”