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UNCTAD Paper Cautions Digital Rules on E-commerce Could Negatively Impact Developing Countries

2/23/2021

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a research paper that shares progress on negotiations on digital rules under the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on electronic commerce. E-commerce encompasses the production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means. An agreement would likely have a broad scope that would cover “almost all actions” of the governments in the digital economy.

A group of 86 countries are negotiating digital rules under the JSI on e-commerce. While the World Trade Organization (WTO) is continuing work under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce, the paper clarifies that countries recognize that any initiative to negotiate e-commerce rules is outside the WTO agreement and its mandates and the JSI negotiations remain “outside the ambits of the WTO.” The outcomes of the JSI negotiations on digital rules will have no legal bearing in the WTO because the rules are not mandated for negotiations there.

 

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