WTO members intensify discussion on e-commerce moratorium

WTO members intensify discussion on e-commerce moratorium

WTO members on 18 July exchanged views on the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions in the seventh of a series of dedicated discussions held this year under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.

Since 1998, WTO members have periodically agreed to extend the moratorium on the imposition of customs duties on electronic transmissions. The last extension was agreed in June 2022 at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).

In addition to extending the moratorium until MC13, WTO members at MC12 agreed to intensify discussions on the scope, definition and impact of the moratorium. The dedicated session was the second time the issue of the moratorium has been discussed by members under the Work Programme since MC12.

Canada, on behalf of the co-sponsors of a new proposal, outlined the co-sponsors’ understanding of the scope and definition of the moratorium. The proposal provides evidence of the benefits of the moratorium and the implications of non-renewal of the moratorium on consumers and business, particularly small businesses and women entrepreneurs.

In addition, Indonesia presented its provisions on importing digital goods through electronic transmission, with a focus on imports intended for domestic use.

Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, the facilitator of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and the e-commerce moratorium, informed members that the next dedicated discussion will be on 21 September. It will focus on technology transfer related to e-commerce.  She noted that a report will be provided at the upcoming General Council meeting on the work carried out under the Work Programme so far.

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