Discussions on electronic commerce at the WTO gained momentum in 2016 and engagement remains high to date. Many ideas have been put forward by members on how the WTO should address e-commerce given the changing nature of trade. While the benefits of e-commerce are many and well-known, development-related challenges ranging from infrastructure to capacity constraints remain and need to be addressed.
In December 2017, at the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, Ministers agreed to continue and reinvigorate the multilateral work initiated in 1998 on e-commerce trade-related issues. They also extended the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions until the next Ministerial. On the margins of MC11, a group of 71 members endorsed a Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce, which aimed at exploring work towards future WTO negotiations on e commerce. Following the exploratory discussions conducted in 2018, 76 (now 77 ) WTO Members reiterated their intention to launch negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce on the margins of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January 2019.
WTO members are currently discussing the way forward, both at the multilateral level as well as under the Joint Statement.
What would be the immediate and long-term impact on businesses if the current e-commerce moratorium was to be suspended? Can the impact be illustrated based on specific data and examples?
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What would be the ideal way for governments to handle data flows and related issues, bearing in mind other important policy issues such as protection of privacy? Do you have any preference among different national models that currently exist on this matter, or any specific suggestions or ideas based on your business experiences?
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What kind of issues would need to be addressed to foster trust in e-commerce? Are there any current practices that could serve as a model? What kind of solutions can businesses offer, including for consumers and data protection, as well as cybersecurity solutions? What has been your experience in addressing these issues in cross-border electronic commerce, and what can be done better?
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