WTO members review ways to facilitate digital trade and electronic transactions
WTO members on 16 May shared experiences on facilitating digital trade and electronic transactions and discussed what the WTO can do to address this topic. The discussions took place in a dedicated session under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.
Singapore presented its experience with the TradeTrust framework, an initiative connecting governments and businesses to a public blockchain to enable safe exchange of electronic trade documents across digital platforms. This framework relies on digitalisation to avoid difficulties in undertaking transactions and to cut costs associated with paper-based trade across borders.
The United Kingdom made a presentation on trade digitalisation, which focussed on utilising digital technologies to improve trade processes and to make trade transactions easier and faster, especially for small business. It noted that trade digitalisation can be promoted by addressing legal, technical and commercial barriers to the digitalisation of paper-based processes.
Brazil presented its experience on implementing electronic “single window” systems for cross-border transactions and the benefits such a system brings. These benefits include achieving a faster clearance time, increasing government revenue, reducing compliance costs and improving the transparency and efficiency of customs procedures.
Several members shared their practices in free trade agreements in areas such as paperless trading, e-payments, e-contracts, e-signatures, e-invoicing and electronic transaction frameworks. They highlighted, in particular, some specific obstacles that hinder digital trade facilitation.
Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, the facilitator of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and the e-commerce moratorium, welcomed members’ exchanges on their national practices, underlining the broad geographical spectrum of the presentations.