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Public Policy

New Report: UK and Japan Lead Global Economies in Cross-Border Data Flows

Salesforce this week released Data Beyond Borders 3.0, its third report analysing the G20 economies’ openness to cross-border data flows, and policy recommendations to further realise the benefits.

Why it matters: When data moves across borders, it increases competition, enhances the opportunities for a country’s people, communities, and businesses — including job-creating and knowledge-sharing — and positively impacts a country’s overall economy. 

Analysis shows G20 economies have made substantial progress in enabling cross-border data flows. However, this progress also exposes an economic gap between countries that embrace open data transfer policies and those that do not.

  • The report highlights that countries which embrace open cross-border data flow receive an economic benefit: Cross-border ecommerce increased 45-fold over the last decade, reaching an estimated $2.7 trillion in 2023.
  • The data transfer relationship between the United States and Europe alone is worth about $7.1 trillion.
  • Digital enablement is expected to drive 70% of new economic growth over the next decade.

The big picture: The latest report findings come as G20 leaders will meet in New Delhi this September, where Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) remains a major discussion topic.

Driving the news: The Data Beyond Borders 3.0 report ranked each of the G20 economies in the ease of cross-border data flows. It found:

  • Japan and the UK once again lead G20 economies in the ease of cross-border data flows, followed by Australia and Singapore (equally ranked), and the United States. 
  • Russia and China rank at the other end of the spectrum, due to strong data localisation requirements and minimal regulatory enablers for cross-border data flows.
  • Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia are among the economies that have most improved since the 2021 report, having developed or implemented legislation that promotes cross-border data flows.

UK in-depth: In its assessment of the UK, the report highlights it is one of a handful of countries to have developed and implemented a public-sector data classification framework. This means the government has mechanisms in place to structure and segregate the data for which it is responsible, allowing it to define appropriate cross-border transfer conditions for each specific type of data. This not only rationalises cross-border data flows, it also ensures the movements of one type of data do not hinder or jeopardise the integrity of other types of data.

This approach to cross-border data flows, the report adds, is what makes the UK stand out compared to the other countries examined in the report. To further promote free-flow of cross-border data, the UK is working to complete its adequacy assessment for a UK-US Data Privacy Framework apart from committing to the “G7 Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust”.

The UK remains a global hub for the data economy

Sarwar Khan, Director of Government Affairs, UKI at Salesforce

The Salesforce perspective: “The UK remains a global hub for the data economy. While safeguarding high standards of privacy, we are pleased to see the UK continue to set the standard when it comes to policies that support digital trade. The secure and seamless transfer of data is fundamental to this and our digital development as a country. Salesforce’s Data Beyond Borders 3.0 report rightly commends the UK’s commitment to clear and robust privacy laws underpinned by trust” said Sarwar Khan, Director of Government Affairs, UKI at Salesforce.

Taking action:

Countries can take action to further enable cross-border data transfers and optimise for economic growth, including:

  • Developing global standards by harmonising privacy laws and aligning on principles for government access to data in the cloud.
  • Expanding digital economy agreements, such as free trade agreements, to include cross-border data provisions.
  • Making trusted data sharing frameworks the default.
  • Accelerating the digitisation of businesses and government services.
  • Clearly defining data sovereignty to ensure it is global and interoperable, along with standards to manage it.

Fast facts: 

  • Cross-border data flows came to prominence under Japan’s G20 Presidency, when the Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) framework was developed. 
  • The DFFT framework is an important part of countries’ ability to enable cross-border data transfers while addressing concerns over privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, and security.

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