WTO members agree to extend e-commerce, non-violation moratoriums
Members agreed to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, scheduled for 8-11 June 2020. They also agreed to continue work under the existing 1998 work programme on e-commerce in the beginning part of 2020. The work in the run-up to MC12 will include structured discussions on issues that would help ministers take an informed decision by MC12.
Since 1998, WTO members have periodically renewed the moratorium at each Ministerial Conference and have continued addressing e-commerce related issues in the Goods Council, the Services Council, the TRIPS Council and the Committee on Trade and Development as part of the e-commerce work programme.
The General Council decision can be found here. More information regarding the WTO’s work on electronic commerce is available here.
WTO members also agreed to extend the moratorium on non-violation and situation complaints under the TRIPS Agreement until MC12. This issue concerns the longstanding issue of whether members should have the right to bring dispute cases to the WTO if they consider that another member’s action or a specific situation has deprived them of an expected benefit under the TRIPS Agreement, even if no specific TRIPS obligation has been violated.
This moratorium was originally set to last for five years (1995–99), but it has been extended a number of times since then in the absence of agreement by members on what the scope and modalities could look like if non-violation and situation complaints were to apply to the TRIPS Agreement.
The General Council decision can be found here. More information on the TRIPS non-violation issue is available here.
WTO members also approved the organization’s budget for 2020. The WTO’s budget for 2020 was fixed at CHF 197,203,900, which represents the 10th consecutive year of zero nominal growth in the WTO’s spending. Members also agreed to finalize the WTO’s 2021 budget in the course of the coming year.
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