In the economic sphere, the defining feature of the 1990s was the emergence of the ‘net economy’ as technology enabled a whole host of new transactions both globally and within economies. This trend accelerated after 2000, and, post the global recession of 2008, while world trade in manufactured goods has remained stagnant in terms of share of global gross domestic product (GDP), the only growing segment has been trade in services. In fact, the ‘net economy’ brought about a dramatic decline in the cost of transacting services both nationally and internationally. To that extent, digital technology performed the same function in promoting trade in services (e -commerce) as reductions in shipping/air and land transport costs did for trade in manufactures between 1950 and 1990 or so.

In comparing manufacturing and services, however, there is one difference: Digital transactions can lead to…

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