Global ecommerce talks strike at roots of WTO, says India

Stating that it is not persuaded to join the negotiations, India said it is working on a national ecommerce policy, which will be finalised soon.

NEW DELHI: India has told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it will not join the negotiations to develop trade rules on ecommerce, arguing that it is an idea whose time has not yet come.

New Delhi has also argued that the discussions by some countries are not consistent with the mandate of the multilateral trading system.

“In our view, these negotiations strike at the roots of the multilateral system and its mandate,” India said on Wednesday at a heads of delegations meeting.

Stating that it is not persuaded to join the negotiations, India said it is working on a national ecommerce policy, which will be finalised soon. “This policy will inform our international engagements on this important subject,” India said.

In its draft National E-Commerce Policy, India has proposed regulating cross-border data flows, locating computing facilities within the country to ensure job creation and setting up a dedicated ‘data authority’ for issues related to sharing of community data.

It has asserted that the data generated in the country is a national asset, and citizens and the government have a sovereign right over it. Though New Delhi is opposed to the plurilateral on ecommerce, it will pursue the existing multilateral work programme that prohibits countries from imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions, something that India and South Africa have questioned, citing revenue loss to developing nations.

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India has in its submission also sought reforms of the multilateral body and resolution of outstanding issues urgently.

“The top most priority is to protect and preserve the system, fix the Appellate Body issue so that the independent dispute settlement mechanism… can function effectively,” the Indian trade envoy said, cautioning against debating contentious issues like differentiation, which could be divisive and further reduce trust within the organization.

Source: The Economic Times

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