ICC welcomes breakthrough in WTO e-commerce talks

  • 25 January 2019
World Trade Organization negotiations on the trade-related aspects of e-commerce

ICC has welcomed a ministerial statement issued today announcing the start of formal WTO talks to establish global rules for e-commerce. 

The statement, supported by some 75 governments, represents a major step forward in efforts within the WTO to enable e-commerce in support of sustainable development and small-business growth.

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said:

“Today’s statement is a very welcome move by members of the WTO to maximize the potential of e-commerce to make trade work for everyone, everywhere.

“Traditionally, commerce over distance has come with significant costs – limiting the ability of SMEs and businesses in developing economies to benefit from global trade. In an Internet-enabled environment this does not need to be the case… but today’s trade rules, which largely reflect 20th Century patterns of trade, are not always well-suited to supporting the growth of SME e-commerce.

“That’s why we need an ambitious global agreement on e-commerce to tackle growing policy frictions in the digital space and – above all – empower entrepreneurs.

“With the right global policies there is an opportunity to unleash a new era of inclusive trade: one in which all companies – regardless of size, sector or location – can benefit from equal access to the global trading system. What’s more, enhanced governance of digital trade – providing greater transparency and trust – will be vital to safeguard the integrity and openness of the global internet.

“Today’s initiative underscores the continued importance of the WTO as a forum for trade policy-making – and we encourage governments to pursue an ambitious agreement with the minimum of delay.”