Countries aim to firm up WTO agreement on e-commerce rules by year end

The nations affirmed their commitment to establish baseline rules to govern the global digital economy. PHOTO: ST FILE

DAVOS - Countries involved in an effort to develop international rules to promote and facilitate e-commerce met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Friday, where they agreed to target finishing negotiations substantially on the agreement by the end of 2023.

The 22 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Joint Statement Initiative on e-commerce (JSI) that met in Davos affirmed their commitment to establish baseline rules to govern the global digital economy, said Australia, Japan and Singapore in a joint statement.

Singapore had launched the initiative in 2017, together with Australia and Japan, and there are 87 WTO members taking part in the negotiations.

On Friday, the three countries said: “Members agreed to continue to exercise pragmatism and flexibility in order to accelerate the ongoing negotiations and achieve substantial conclusion of the JSI agreement by end-2023.”

“These global rules will provide greater legal predictability and consumer confidence, which will deliver tangible benefits to both businesses and consumers,” they added.

Australia’s Assistant Minister for Trade Tim Ayres said the initiative will “create a strong foundation for a fast-growing and critically important area of trade”.

Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, who represented Singapore at the meeting, said: “(The initiative) will be a timely update to the current set of international trade rules, provide greater certainty and stability, and enable businesses and consumers to better benefit from the digital economy.” She urged the members to “intensify efforts to achieve our collective objective”.

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