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Source: European Parliament 2

WTO e-commerce negotiations

05-10-2020

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO agreements, but the legal form of the deal is not yet clear. Participants wish to modernise trade rules to fit the digital age and show that the WTO’s negotiating function can deliver. Key issues in the negotiations include e-contracts and e-signatures, data flows, data localisation requirements, disclosure of source code, and customs duties on electronic transmissions. While some divergences persist, in particular on data flows and privacy, the talks are progressing with a view to deliver a consolidated draft text by the end of 2020.

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO agreements, but the legal form of the deal is not yet clear. Participants wish to modernise trade rules to fit the digital age and show that the WTO’s negotiating function can deliver. Key issues in the negotiations include e-contracts and e-signatures, data flows, data localisation requirements, disclosure of source code, and customs duties on electronic transmissions. While some divergences persist, in particular on data flows and privacy, the talks are progressing with a view to deliver a consolidated draft text by the end of 2020.

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