Members exchange information on regulatory and legal frameworks on e-commerce

WTO members exchanged information on existing regulatory and legal frameworks on e-commerce at a dedicated discussion held under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce on 22 March. Members also shared national experiences and challenges related to the establishment of those frameworks and the role the WTO can play in this area.

Singapore presented its Digital Economy Agreements, emphasizing the regulatory environment that could help digital trade thrive. Its presentation also covered key areas where Singapore has sought to build the necessary regulatory support mechanisms to facilitate digital trade. These include electronic transactions, paperless trading and electronic invoicing.

Through its presentation, Singapore aimed to seek members’ views on what a robust regulatory and legal framework would encompass, the obstacles in establishing these frameworks and how the WTO and other international organisations can support the regulatory process.

The United Kingdom introduced an upcoming paper on trade digitalization which focuses on how to make legislative and regulatory frameworks on e-commerce more inclusive, transparent and efficient.

Members outlined areas where they have established legal and regulatory frameworks at the national level or in the context of their regional trade agreements. These areas include consumer protection, electronic transactions, liability of internet service providers, privacy, and protection of personal data.

Several members referred to the WTO’s role in providing technical assistance and capacity building to those members lacking the resources to develop effective legal and regulatory frameworks. They also reiterated the need to harness the convening power of the WTO to bring in international organisations and other stakeholders to share their expertise on this issue.

The next dedicated discussion is scheduled for 20 April. It will focus on the moratorium on the imposition of customs duties on electronic commerce.

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