Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Seventy-five nations have agreed to participate in World Trade Organization talks, beginning in March, on cross-border e-commerce, one of the fastest-growing and thorniest areas of global trade.

The big picture: Consumer-facing e-commerce has become a $3.5 trillion global market, and some $700 billion of those purchases occur across borders, but there are almost no existing international rules in place for it.

Background: Most existing trade agreements were written in the pre-digital era to cover traditional flows of goods that enter countries in large containers through ports of entry. But e-commerce results in a flood of small parcels that is overwhelming customs inspectors.

By the numbers: The McKinsey Global Institute projects that the global market for cross-border, business-to-consumer e-commerce will top $1 trillion by next year.

  • Cross-border business-to-business e-commerce is thought to be 4–5 times larger.
  • International package delivery volumes have tripled since 2000.
  • E-commerce and new technologies could boost trade in manufactured goods by 6–10% in the next decade.

What's happening: China — the world’s largest e-commerce market — recently signed on to join the United States, the EU and roughly half of the WTO membership at the table. India, Pakistan, South Africa and some other developing countries are opting out because of concerns about multinationals accessing their local markets.

What's needed: Negotiators will need to harmonize frameworks governing not only e-commerce but other types of cross-border digital flows as well.

  • Many countries require that data generated within their borders must be stored on servers physically located within that country. This is a point of contention for global internet traffic and transactions, since it has forced companies to build multiple foreign data centers.
  • Negotiators will also need to address the lack of international standards for consumer protections and data privacy.

The bottom line: These talks are a chance to modernize trade and to protect vulnerable players involved, like small and medium businesses and customers.

Susan Lund is a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey & Company’s business and economics arm.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.