Orient Magazine Issue 87 - June 2022 - Page 32

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PM Lee : New Asia-Pacific Trade Framework has Strategic and Economic Significance
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework ( IPEF ), which was launched on Monday ( May 23 ) by US President Joe Biden , is " of both strategic and economic significance ", said Singapore ' s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong .
The US-led pact is an opportunity for the United States " to exercise economic diplomacy in the region ", said Mr Lee in his intervention at the virtual launch of the IPEF . membership open to others to join when they are ready to do so .
In closing , Mr Lee said Singapore looks forward to working closely with the US and other partners to " flesh out " the IPEF .
" We hope that in due course , it will lead on to even greater and more ambitious economic engagement between the United States and the region ."
It also shows the US ' continued commitment to engage with its Asian partners and deepen ties across the Pacific , Mr Lee added .
Thirteen countries , including Singapore and the US , have signed up to the IPEF . Together , they represent 40 per cent of the world GDP , said the White House in a press release .
At a press conference on Monday alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida , Mr Biden said the framework was " a commitment to working with our close friends and partners in the region on challenges that matter most to ensuring economic competitiveness in the 21st century ".
Unlike traditional trade blocs , there is no plan for IPEF members to negotiate tariffs and ease market access .
Instead , the programme will integrate partners though agreed standards in four main areas , including the digital economy , supply chains , clean energy infrastructure and anti-corruption measuresMr Lee said he is " happy that IPEF contains a forward-looking and positive agenda on economic cooperation ".
The four pillars would also " resonate strongly in the region ", said the prime minister .
" In particular , they will also cover cooperation in the digital economy and the green economy , which show promise of growth ," he added .
Mr Lee also said it is important that the IPEF " remains open , inclusive and flexible ", to allow members to continue working with other partners and leaving
NEWS - IN SINGAPORE
THE THEMETAVERSE: ROAD TO NETWHAT ZERO:ARE SUSTAINABLE THE LEGAL AND IMPLICATIONS? RESPONSIBLE INVESTING The Metaverse: What are the legal implications? 29 33 behind avatars. Such uncertainty could also change courts' understanding of fair use. Meanwhile, trademark lawyers are focusing on questions such as how trademark dilution might occur in the metaverse, whether digital assets should qualify as "goods" for purposes of the trademark laws, and who should be held liable when the identity of the infringer is unclear. Fintech Paul Landless Partner, Clifford Chance As a growing number of tech companies invest heavily in the metaverse – which allows users to live, work and play in alternative virtual worlds – we explore the legal issues that it may give rise to, including data security and privacy, IP, copyright, and antitrust. From Facebook's recent decision to rename itself "Meta" through to Epic Games' billion-dollar investment in metaverse technologies to Snap's continued development of a prototype for augmented-reality glasses, the metaverse has dominated the news and will likely continue to do so this year. But what is it? There is no universally accepted definition for the term "metaverse," and, for many, it is simply an amorphous term used to refer to an as-yet-undeveloped future of the internet. Almost all conceptualizations of the metaverse include the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and avatars, connected by a massive network. "The metaverse" is also often described as a singular, unitary entity, while others refer to "metaverses," presumably envisioning several sets of virtual spaces that are owned by distinct proprietors and which are not necessarily interconnected. Adding to an already complex field of play, the metaverse is designed to be deeply interconnected, seamless, and ungrounded in physical space. Each of the legal issues discussed below will require practitioners to navigate questions of jurisdiction, territoriality, and conflicts of laws, none of which have been neatly resolved for even the current iteration of the internet, let alone fully realized virtual worlds with an even greater degree of interaction and user immersion. Data security and privacy Digital security and privacy will be among the most significant legal issues facing platform owners. Major technology companies are already facing significant antitrust scrutiny and increasing regulation around the world, and the development of the metaverse may spur additional scrutiny and action from antitrust enforcers. But data in the metaverse will become exponentially more valuable than it already is, and technologies will become increasingly integrated into multiple aspect of users' lives. This developing technology will stress-test existing laws and put even greater pressure on regulators to match the sophistication of the technology. Further, a singular metaverse, if operated by multiple entities, will require interoperability standards that siloed, disparate metaverses will not. User information will be at particular risk of exploitation given the vulnerabilities involved when data is ported from one application to another, and platform operators will need extensive agreements to govern data transfers, information security standards, and responsibility for compliance (as well as data breaches, which could cause even more chaos than they do today). In addition to concerns around a fair standard-setting process, cooperation agreements and industry standards risk restricting output and can violate the antitrust laws if not sufficiently tailored to their pro-competitive purpose. As major technology companies seek to build the infrastructure for the metaverse, they may encounter claims of antitrust violations and additional scrutiny from antitrust enforcers and legislators. Intellectual property Questions of intellectual property are also highly relevant. For example, determining the identity of the creators of a given work in the metaverse may be more difficult when the work results from a decentralized collaborative process performed by users anonymized Legal issues related to fintech will arise increasingly in the metaverse, especially as more companies offer digital assets and services for sale. Sales of virtual goods are already being made using cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, and they may ultimately be supported by the same blockchain technologies that allow for the metaverse's essential interoperability functions. Brands can distribute digital "goods" in the metaverse, either by selling identical goods to many users (like branded pairs of sneakers) or by selling rights or indicia of ownership to individual goods, such as a unique piece of art. Purchasers of the latter can acquire such goods as an investment or keep them for their own collection, even displaying them in a virtual environment (e.g., by "hanging" them in the living room of their virtual "summer home"). The art's authenticity may be verified on the blockchain through NFTs using a process similar to the verification of the value of the cryptocurrency itself. Legal questions will surely arise regarding the proper verification of ownership and potential infringement or conversion of authentic and verified purchases. If cryptocurrency is treated like a financial instrument or security, which seems increasingly likely in certain jurisdictions, then consumers will experience hurdles using cryptocurrency as a cur- rency for the purchase of digital goods. As more individuals acquire digital assets, operators of plat- forms where the digital assets exist will likely face a duty of care to ensure the safety of the digital assets. Venture capital has poured into the sector, with more than $10 billion raised last year across gaming, augmented reality, and virtual worlds. An increase in cross-border deal-making means navigating the legal complexities highlighted above, while also facing increased scrutiny given the central role of tech companies in the digital economy and regulatory policies trending towards data controls and technological sovereignty. What's next? Currently, it is difficult to predict the extent to which the most far-reaching visions of a metaverse – a three- dimensional virtual world where millions or even billions of people shop, work, and interact – will materialize. Despite numerous advances, techno- logical barriers still exist: supporting a virtual reality environment requires enormous amounts of energy and bandwidth, and VR hardware developers are still trying to improve their products' battery life, weight, and mobility. Finally, interconnected spaces have drawbacks along with benefits. With connectedness comes some degree of homogenization, and some users may not want to relinquish the ability to customize their own online environments in ways that are possible in contained and fragmented spaces but not in an open and universal metaverse. It would be a difficult task to predict which of the many metaverse projects being developed by tech firms and non-tech firms alike will succeed, in terms of both technical outcomes and mass adoption. As companies innovate, these developments will foster disputes among businesses, governments, and consumers and give rise to novel legal questions for years to come. M&A and other investment activity The metaverse as a whole is estimated to be an $8 trillion revenue opportunity. Investors have taken note of the "metaverse landgrab," and stockholders are increasingly asking companies to explain their metaverse strategy. The success of the metaverse, in whatever form it takes, will require massive investments of capital across digital content, digital assets, and hardware to generate virtual spaces, as well as the digital infrastructure to connect them. Clifford Chance is one of the world's pre-eminent law firms with significant depth and range of resources across five continents. As a single, fully integrated, global partnership, we pride ourselves on our approachable, collegial and team-based way of working. We always strive to ex- ceed the expectations of our clients, which include corporates from all the commercial and industrial sectors, governments, regulators, trade bodies and not for profit organisations. We provide them with the highest quality advice and legal insight, which combines the firm's global standards with in-depth local expertise. www.cliffordchance.com