17 Jul 2018

Global Industry Recommended Priorites for the WTO E-Commerce Initiative

Global industry welcomed the announcement at the Eleventh WTO Ministerial that 70 WTO economies would begin work “towards future WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce.” Digital technologies and e-commerce are vital to the growth and development of the global economy, and the WTO is an important venue for the development of e-commerce rules that will ensure that companies can grow, innovate, and create jobs. Recognizing that enabling digital trade through cutting-edge e-commerce rules makes global trade more inclusive and promotes a free and open internet, our associations recommend that these negotiations advance efforts to:

  1. Allow data to move across borders to enable firms and workers in all sectors to serve customers globally, access information, and continuously innovate;
  2. Prevent requirements to localize the storage and processing of data, as companies of all sizes, above all SMEs, rely on the economies of scale that global data centers provide;
  3. Prohibit tariffs and taxes on cross-border data flows and digital products, ensuring firms in any economy can compete on a level playing field around the world and local firms and consumers have access to the best and most innovative digital services and products;
  4. Ensure full market access for services, including new services, so companies can continue to innovate with the confidence that their services will be able to reach consumers;
  5. Encourage members to join WTO Information Technology Agreement and its expansion (ITA and ITA II), guaranteeing low-cost technology solutions for all consumers;
  6. Prohibit requirements that companies transfer technology, source code, algorithms, or encryption keys, to ensure that companies can export with the certainty that their intellectual property – and their customers’ data – is secure;
  7. Ensure the adoption of intermediary liability protections, so that online service providers do not have to restrict their activities under threat of liability for third-party content that they do not control;
  8. Avoid regulations of internet services that do not serve legitimate public policy objectives or consider the specific characteristics of both the service and the market, so that innovative services can reach new markets and ensure that consumers have a broad choice of services;
  9. Eliminate or reduce red tape and discriminatory regulatory barriers for all technology products, accelerating technological adoption; and,
  10. Simplify and expedite customs clearance for low-value shipments and raise informal clearance and de minimis thresholds to enable e-commerce and SME exports.
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