On November 16, 2015, the leaders of the “Group of 20” (“G20”) – the world’s richest and most powerful nations – reached an agreement not to conduct economic cyber-espionage.  The agreement, reached during the G20’s conference in Antalya, Turkey, included that “no country should conduct or support [cyber]-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.”  This pledge marks a major, high-level international attempt by the nations comprising the G20 at reducing the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets by foreign governments to economically benefit their domestic industries. 

The agreement is viewed as particularly significant because it marks the first time countries such as China and Russia have agreed to a distinction between cyber-hacking for traditional intelligence-gathering purposes and cyber-hacking for economic or commercial gain.  Another significant aspect of the agreement is that the G20 leaders affirmed that international law applies to state conduct in cyberspace – a concession that had not previously been made by all of the countries in the G20.