India to join ecommerce discussions at WTO

Nearly one year after the tenth Ministerial Conference of the WTO, India indicated intention to join the one of the most engaged new issues – ecommerce. Officials from Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) indicated that the country is going to engage with the new issues to be tabled at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference.

The WTO is going to conduct the Eleventh MC at Buenos Aires, Argentina between December 11 -14, 2017.

Indications are that several WTO members are seriously discussing the new issues including ecommerce, investment and government procurement. But of these, only ecommerce may materialize some agreement as members have serious divergences among other issues.

Over the last few months, different countries are making consultations to design a new global trade regime for the fast-growing ecommerce sector. Nations extending from US to Pakistan have conducted trade discussions using various sub-WTO platforms for carving laws on ecommerce sector.

India’s trade designing think tank – the DIPP has not so far seriously taken any initiative to get involved in the discussions. The country’s deep disengagement is rooted in the removal of Doha Development Agenda (DDA) from the discussion table of the Organization.

Rather the WTO is making new footsteps without showing interest in losing time in unresolvable trade quarrels like the DDA. Even the least developing countries from Africa are showing keen interest in the 21st century issues including ecommerce.

            Ecommerce as the new issue is getting the attention of all members as the initial discussions have connected ecommerce sector with small and medium enterprises. Several developing countries hope that they will benefit if big ecommerce companies are allowed to procure goods and services from small and medium enterprises from their countries. At present, the WTO is having a moratorium on customs duty imposition on cross national ecommerce trading.


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