After days of submitting documents by India, opposing discussions on cross-border digital trade, Europe, Australia, Canada among others have put up the ante and have suggested negotiations on the aspects of trade e-commerce at World Trade Organisations (WTO). About 15 countries have explicitly requested for a mandate to make negotiations on the terms and to work on rules for disciplines in trade e-commerce in a meeting held on Tuesday.
“More pressure is being built as these countries have talked about a mandate to negotiate and not merely discuss disciplines in e-commerce,” mentioned a person who was aware of the developments.
Even though India has its e-commerce developing, it might not sound prudent to start the talks, as many countries cannot understand the implications of negotiating binding rules and hence there was opposition on any discussions on the matter. However, this development will require a “valiant effort by India” to withstand pressure to make negotiations at the ministerial level from December 10 to 13 in Buenos Aires.
There has been a proposal by the advocates of the paper to establish a working party to manage and conduct preparations to carry out the negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce. According to the experts, this can be done only when the WTO is ready to adopt a new discipline.
"These countries are short-circuiting the norms to make a working party first," said Biswajit Dhar, professor-Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
There are four WTO bodies held responsible to carry out the programme that has been adopted in 1998 that talks about privacy protection, customs duties, transparency, competition and rules of origin, among other issues.
SaveDesk View: There is a need for the government to pay attention to the potential of cross-border e-commerce trade, as the international trade involves digital documentations made available online. It is a better choice to stay involved in the trade negotiations as they aid in improving the competitive advantage in trade in goods and services.