WTO considers electronic commerce

The Ninth Ministerial Conference met from 3. to 7. of December 2013 in Bali, Indonisia. The most important body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concludes a new World Trade Agreement—the Bali Ministerial Declaration or “Bali Package” [1]. The annoucement marks the organization’s first agreement since its creation in 1995.

And it includes a “Work Programme on Electronic Commerce”. Because the concluded text is very pleasant and short, I copied the results word by word. You will find the original documents on the WTO home pages [2].

To reiterate the importance of adhering to WTO’s basic principles in the on-going discussion on ecommerce including non-discrimination, predictability and transparency. In that regard, the Work Programme should continue to examine the trade related aspects of, inter alia,enhancing internet connectivity and access to information and telecommunications technologies and public internet sites, the growth of mobile telephony, electronically delivered software, cloud computing, the protection of confidential data, privacy and consumer protection,

To further reiterate that the Work Programme shall take forward the issues emerging in the discussions and the evolving application of e-commerce to enhance economic/development opportunities, with special consideration of the situation in developing countries, particularly in least-developed country Members and least connected countries. It shall continue to examine opportunities and challenges for access to electronic commerce by micro, small and medium sized enterprises, including small producers and suppliers,

To instruct the General Council to hold periodic reviews in its sessions of July and December 2014 and July 2015, based on the reports submitted by the WTO bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Work Programme, to assess its progress and consider any recommendations on possible measures related to electronic commerce in the next session of the Ministerial Conference,

That Members will maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until our next session, which we have decided to hold in 2015.

I think the most important result is the last one, the members are not planning to install duties an eletronic transmissions. Furthermore the importance of the worldwide electronic business is highlighted at all. At a glance, the results are not mind-blowing. But if we consider, that the WTO represents almost all nations in the world (sic!) and 90% of the global commerce volume, it is very remarkable from my point of view, that electronic commerce is a topic within the Work Program.

[1] WT/MIN/DEC/W/1/Rev.1
[2] WT/MIN(13)/W/3

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