Doug Strub
Technology and Geoeconomic Affairs

[email protected]

Center for Innovation, Trade, and Strategy

The mission of NBR’s Center for Innovation, Trade, and Strategy (Trade Center) is to deepen understanding of the technological and economic issues that are shaping the growth and competitiveness of Indo-Pacific countries.

Research Priorities

The Trade Center provides expert analysis on the highly complex and rapidly evolving issues at the center of economic trends and technological developments in the Indo-Pacific. The Trade Center recognizes the linkages between economic, technological, and strategic developments in the region and engages experts from multiple fields to comprehensively examine these multifaceted issues.

China’s Digital Ambitions, Strategy, and Influence

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is pursuing a coordinated strategy to reshape the digital order to better reflect Beijing’s illiberal values. NBR’s project on China’s Digital Ambitions analyzed this strategy and how the PRC uses influence over digital infrastructure, tech platforms, standard-setting, and global governance to advance its objectives. The project highlighted the security risks posed by China’s actions, provided a framework for policy responses, and produced an interactive data tool evidencing China’s growing global digital footprint. Previously, NBR’s China’s Digital Influence project analyzed the strategic implications of the PRC’s innovation policy and Network Great-Power strategy.

Digital Trade, Data Governance, and Digital Infrastructure

The 21st-century global economy and geopolitical situation are increasingly dependent on cross-border digital connectivity and the use of vast quantities of data. Control over these data flows and the infrastructure that enables them is vital to both the PRC’s strategy and efforts to promote a liberal internet environment. NBR’s ongoing exploration of these issues has included a series of projects examining the impact of data on trade, strategy, and digital development in the Indo-Pacific. Our Digital Silk Road project produced original research on how the PRC seeks to leverage its technology industry to expand its influence, especially in Southeast Asia, and how the United States and its partners can effectively counter this influence. The Digital Balancing Act project brought together experts on 5G, artificial intelligence, public health data, and digital trade to examine the role of data governance in driving technological and economic development in the Indo-Pacific.

South Korea’s Digital Leadership and U.S.-Korea Technology and Innovation Cooperation

The United States and South Korea are leaders in key digital and technology spaces. They both play central roles in critical and emerging technology innovation and supply chains, most notably for semiconductors. Previous NBR work on South Korea’s approach to 5G and data governance found that the country could be a regional leader in rolling out both advanced ICT infrastructure and the data governance frameworks to support it. However, despite the strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance, more can be done to actively promote technology and innovation cooperation. NBR’s Achieving Common Ground project brings together U.S. and South Korean experts on data governance, export controls, and critical and emerging technologies to present their perspectives on U.S.-ROK cooperation on these issues and develop joint recommendations.

Economic and Trade Strategy

As great-power competition has escalated in the Indo-Pacific, the use of economic statecraft, especially trade policy, to pursue geopolitical objectives has become increasingly common. The United States is using its 2023 APEC host year to advance its vision for regional economic engagement, and NBR will examine U.S. priorities and APEC initiatives throughout the year. NBR’s Evolving Indo-Pacific Trade Environment project analyzes broader shifts in economic dynamics and their impact on the United States’ role in the region, as well as how regional players are seeking to shape the future of Indo-Pacific trade. These changes have compelled policymakers to consider complex questions of interdependence, industrial policy, and the relationship between economic and security goals as they work to craft effective economic strategies. NBR’s Taskforce on Transforming the Economic Dimension of U.S. China Strategy convened a dozen experts from the business, academic, and policy communities to craft a viable long-term economic strategy for this critical bilateral relationship.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) represents a significant source of the vitality of many economies in the Indo-Pacific and is critically important to fields ranging from manufacturing to technology services. Rising economies in the region have long attempted to acquire—often in violation of global norms and rules—IP to fuel their growth and move up the value chain. NBR’s Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (IP Commission) has conducted detailed analysis of the nature and scale of the misappropriation of IP in the Indo-Pacific and assessed the costs it imposes on innovation and economic development. The IP Commission has played a central role in elevating this issue to the top of policymakers’ agendas and submitted a memo to the Biden administration outlining next steps to further strengthen IP protections and address this pressing challenge. One of the central recommendations highlighted in the IP Commission’s memo—imposing targeted sanctions against IP infringers—was implemented into law through the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act of 2022.

In the Media

South Korea’s 5G Ambitions (Korean Economic Institute of America, Mar 23, 2020)