WTO examines e-commerce on 6 main topics

The World Trade Organization (WTO) examines the issues raised in e-commerce negotiations on six main topics.

In this regard, the topics are: enabling electronic commerce; openness and electronic commerce; trust and electronic commerce; cross-cutting issues; telecommunications; and market access.

In 2020, the members of the Joint Declaration on Electronic Commerce focused on small group meetings on specific topics.

Indeed, the topics covered included unsolicited electronic commercial messages, online consumer protection, facilitation of trade in goods, source code, open government data, electronic authentication and electronic signatures, customs duties, open Internet access and market access of services.

In general, the objective was to reduce the number of options in the negotiating text.

Given the restrictions on in-person meetings and international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the work was carried out virtually.

Negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce began in 2019, with the aim of achieving «a high-level outcome that builds on existing WTO agreements and frameworks with the participation of as many WTO members as possible. possible».

The initiative is co-convened by Australia, Japan and Singapore.


The negotiations stemmed from a joint statement issued by 71 trade ministers at the 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017.

But participation is open to all WTO members.

The initiative had 86 WTO members at the end of 2020, representing more than 90% of world trade and representing all major geographic regions and levels of development.

Then, the coordinators distributed a balance text in August that incorporates all the textual proposals presented, as well as the contributions of the discussions carried out by the facilitators and proponents in their respective groups.

Thus, in December, the co-organizers published a consolidated negotiating text that reflects the progress made in the negotiations.

The text will be the basis for negotiations in 2021.

Participants aim to make substantial progress by the 12th Ministerial Conference, scheduled for the end of 2021.

They highlighted the importance of developing global digital trade standards and the critical role that e-commerce would play. in the global economic recovery from Covid-19.