[A2k] KEI reaction to 11th WTO Ministerial Conference – Joint Statement on E-Commerce

Claire Cassedy claire.cassedy at keionline.org
Wed Dec 13 10:44:24 PST 2017


KEI reaction to 11th WTO Ministerial Conference – Joint Statement on

Posted By Claire Cassedy On December 13, 2017

On December 13, 2017, a joint statement on e-commerce was endorsed by
Ministers representing 70 WTO members at the 11th WTO Ministerial
Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina (see below).

KEI’s statement on the WTO e-commerce agenda is as follows:

    “There is no question about the importance of e-commerce and digital
trade. Less clear is why a WTO role is needed, given the nature of the
institution, the relative lack of expertise, and its system of norms that
are hard to make and harder to modify. There are concerns that the WTO may
be asked to consider rules that would override legitimate safeguards of
privacy and consumer protection, undermine the transparency of critical
software code, and make it more difficult to control anti-competitive
practices, while doing nothing to protect important freedoms of expression.
For these reasons, it is important for those advocating for WTO engagement
in e-commerce to be more transparent about their objectives and the
rationale for asking the WTO to regulate trade in this area. The decision
by the Secretariat to present itself as a champion of big e-commerce
businesses during the ministerial and to downplay the risks and challenges
of e-commerce and digital trade was unfortunate and concerning. We join
others in monitoring future developments at the WTO on these topics.” James
Love, Director, KEI

Below is the joint statement from the WTO Ministerial.


    Ministers representing the following Members of the World Trade
Organization (WTO): Albania; Argentina; Australia; Bahrain; Brazil; Brunei
Darussalam; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; European Union;
Guatemala; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Israel; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea,
Republic of; Kuwait; Lao PDR; Liechtenstein; the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia; Malaysia; Mexico; Moldova, Republic of; Montenegro; Myanmar;
New Zealand; Nigeria; Norway; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Qatar; Russian
Federation; Singapore; Switzerland; Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan,
Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Turkey; Ukraine; United States; and Uruguay;
reaffirm the importance of global electronic commerce and the opportunities
it creates for inclusive trade and development.

    We share the goal of advancing electronic commerce work in the WTO in
order to better harness these opportunities.

    We recognize the particular opportunities and challenges faced by
developing countries, especially LDCs, as well as by micro, small and
medium-sized enterprises, in relation to electronic commerce.

    We also recognize the important role of the WTO in promoting open,
transparent, non-discriminatory and predictable regulatory environments in
facilitating electronic commerce.

    We, as a group, will initiate exploratory work together toward future
WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronics commerce.
Participation will be open to all WTO Members and will be without prejudice
to participants’ positions of future negotiations. A first meeting will be
held in the first quarter of 2018.

    Welcoming the contributions since the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference
in Nairobi, our work will build on WTO rules. Our initiative will be
undertaken without prejudice to existing WTO agreements and mandates. We
encourage all WTO Members to join us and to support and enhance the
benefits of electronic commerce for businesses and consumers across the

Claire Cassedy
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009
Tel.: 1.202.332.2670

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