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Members’ discussion on e-commerce work programme highlights importance of consumer protection

On 26 January, WTO members discussed consumer protection in the first of a series of dedicated discussions to be held this year under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce. Members recognised the importance of consumer protection in enhancing trust in e-commerce, shared experiences and highlighted the challenges they face in this area.

Other topics to be addressed in the dedicated discussions scheduled for the first semester of this year include the digital divide, the legal and regulatory framework on e-commerce and the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions.

Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady, the facilitator on the E-commerce Work Programme and the moratorium, said that the topics of these dedicated discussions stem from what she heard during her consultations with members in December 2022.

India presented a submission looking at consumer protection at each phase of a commercial transaction, including pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. It also looks at current work on consumer protection at the international level.

Members considered the guiding questions in India’s submission, shared experiences on consumer protection, discussed how members can enhance regulatory cooperation between enforcement agencies and looked at the role the WTO can play alone or in collaboration with others in enhancing consumer protection in e-commerce.

The next dedicated discussion will be on 21 February, focussing on the digital divide in terms of digital infrastructure, connectivity and capacity building.

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