The WTO agrees to extend a moratorium on electronic commerce

The World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a provisional agreement to extend a moratorium on the application of tariffs on electronic transmissions until at least 2023, despite the previous opposition of China, the Reuters agency advanced this Thursday.

This agreement has not yet become official, while other agreements are probably taking shape within the framework of the XII WTO Ministerial Summitheld in Geneva, Switzerland.

Reuters added that delegates were more optimistic on Thursday about a package deal with possible compensation, without specifying what the commitments would be. EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tweeted that members were “getting closer”. The deputy director general of the WTO, Anabel González, said that she was “hopeful”.

Negotiators held intense talks in the so-called “Green Room” of the WTO for most of the night. The United States Trade Representative, katherine taiand the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentaowere no longer in Geneva, business sources said.

Earlier, WTO members extended the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions until the current Ministerial Summit.

Separately, the United States and more than 80 other members are negotiating a plurilateral initiative on electronic commerce.

The value of the global e-commerce market stood at 4 trillion 822.106 million dollars in 2020. This same market registered a historical growth (compound annual growth rate -CAGR-) of 15% during 2017–2020 and increased 14% in 2021 , reaching 5 billion 496,164 million dollars.

GlobalData projects that the market for electronic commerce grow at a CAGR of 12% during 2021-25, up to 8 billion 571,615 million dollars by 2025.

Also, according to a study by the Mexican Association of Online Salesthe e-commerce market in Mexico totaled 401.3 billion pesos in 2021, and represented 11.3% of retail sales, compared to 2.9% in 2017.

From the perspective of the Mexican government, it is expected to maintain the moratorium in the WTO, especially at a time when electronic commerce and the digital economy are increasing at a rapid pace and where the elimination of tariffs helps boost this dynamism.

WTO members have agreed to temporarily suspend customs duties on electronic transactions since 1998. The WTO Information Technology Agreement, with 74 WTO participants, including the United States, removes tariffs on many information technology products. information underlying electronic commerce.

Now, the United States is seeking a comprehensive digital trade agreement to make the WTO customs tariff moratorium permanent and address barriers and discriminatory practices such as data localization.

As of March 2022, the parties had agreed on some provisions enabling e-commerce, including signature assurance, electronic authentication, electronic contracts, open government data, and online consumer protection.

Although developed and developing countries, including China, have joined, others, such as India, have chosen not to participate.

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