9 December 2020
In a memo to World Trade Organization Members, ICC has called on negotiators to accelerate progress and conclude a high standard agreement by the next WTO Ministerial Conference.
There are now 86 World Trade Organization (WTO) Members negotiating the JSI, representing well over 90% of world trade. Citing the indispensable role of the digital economy during COVID-19, the memo says:
“As communities have socially distanced to flatten the curve, contactless payments have enabled safe, COVID-free transactions; brick-and-mortar retailers have rapidly moved to sell their wares online, powered by a vibrant ecosystem of software as a service providers; citizens have used social media to maintain connection with friends and loved ones across the globe; and e-commerce marketplaces have provided consumers with safety, choice and convenience.”
The memo – A High Standard Outcome to Power the Post-COVID Recovery – states that the digital economy will have an even more critical role to play in ensuring a rapid post-pandemic recovery, and highlights five key areas in which global business prioritises actions by negotiators:
- Market access and connectivity, including common rules to ensure open, non-discriminatory access to digital and digitally-enabled markets that support competition.
- A permanent prohibition of customs duties on electronic transmissions to ensure that duties do not impede the flow of data, and disciplines on the localisation of data.
- New disciplines, building on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, to enable simplified processing of low value shipments, and a provision mandating the adoption and implementation of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records to enable paperless trade at scale.
- Commitments on cross-border consumer protection, including a commitment on a data protection framework that embodies minimum best practice standards.
- Capacity building programmes to expand connectivity, bridge digital divides and assist micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) looking to grow through e-commerce.
ICC Secretary-General John W.H. Denton AO said:
“Negotiators have made good progress on some of the less controversial issues. It’s now time to deliver an agreement that will power a post-COVID recovery and ensure the continued success of the millions of businesses that have come to rely on the digital economy.”
Read the memo: A High Standard Outcome to Power the Post-COVID Recovery
For further reading on global business input into the WTO negotiations, read ICC’s issues papers on the JSI:
Issues Brief No. 1: Taxation of physical goods in the context of e-commerce: avoiding non-tariff barriers through simple and consistent design
Issues Brief No. 2: The business case for a permanent prohibition of customs duties on electronic transmissions
Issues Brief No. 3: Facilitating trade through digitalisation
Issues Brief No. 4: Electronic payment services and e-commerce