Nearly Half of WTO Members Agree to Talks on New E-Commerce Rules | RetailTechPodcast

Nearly Half of WTO Members Agree to Talks on New E-Commerce Rules

The WTO's 164 members were unable to consolidate some 25 separate e-commerce proposals at the body's biennial conference at Buenos Aires in December, including a call to set up a central e-commerce negotiating forum. In a gathering on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, ministers from a smaller group of countries including the United States, the European Union and Japan, agreed to work out an agenda for negotiations they hope to kick off this year on setting new e-commerce rules. "The current WTO rules don't match the needs of the 21st century. You can tell that from the fact there are no solid rules on e-commerce," Japan's trade minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Davos. The WTO failed to reach any new agreements at a ministerial conference in December, which ended in discord in the face of stinging US criticism of the group. The emergence of the coalition willing to press ahead with new e-commerce rules, despite others' reservations, reinforces a trend towards the fragmentation of WTO negotiations and away from global "Rounds" of talks that have run out of steam. "We will seek to achieve a high-standard outcome that builds on existing WTO agreements and frameworks with the participation of as many WTO members as possible," members of the coalition said in a joint statement issued on Friday. "We continue to encourage all WTO members to participate in order to further enhance the benefits of electronic commerce for businesses, consumers and the global economy." Read more