WTO Plurilateral negotiations on trade related aspects of electronic commerce – ICC Working Group on E-commerce – Issues Paper No 3

The ICC Working group on E-commerce five key recommendations to facilitate trade through digitalisation.

Global business believes that the Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce (JSI) presents an ideal opportunity to enhance trade facilitation. The ICC Baseline Position for a High Standard Outcome sets out, under Pillar 2, a number of ideas that build on the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement within the context of a fast-growing digital economy.

Given the interest shown in recent months by JSI participants on paperless trading, the following issues brief includes a number of suggested provisions that could further facilitate trade through digitalisation.

Global trade is increasingly digitalised. Buyers, sellers, and intermediaries now rely on technologies that enable commerce at a speed, scale, and efficiency unimaginable just a few decades ago. Unfortunately, many customs administrations around the world are still in the infancy of adopting such technologies and processes. Customs procedures still rely on hard-copy paper documents, manual and inefficient processes, and other relics of a bygone era ill-suited for digital trade in the 21st century.

For example, according to the Global Express Association’s Customs Capability Database, 64 of 139 countries annually measured (46%) do not accept or electronically process the data required for release of shipments in advance of their arrival – what has become a global benchmark for efficient and secure customs processing.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in cross-border e-commerce disproportionately shoulder the burden of such outdated customs procedures, including delays and added costs.

The JSI presents an opportunity to build on existing trade disciplines and global standards in order to fully realise the benefits of digitalisation and paperless trade.