The Africa eCommerce Week: Empowering African Economies in the Digital Era was organised from 10 - 14 December 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the African Union, and the European Union, and hosted by the Government of Kenya. The outcome of the event is the Nairobi Manifesto on the Digital Economy and Inclusive Development in Africa which pinpoints a number of policy recommendations required for digital economy to bring inclusive and sustainable development to Africa and eschew wider inequalities and divides. The Manifesto further underlines how the engagement of all segments of society is significant for e-commerce to make a real and sustained contribution to development. To this aim, cross-cutting policy actions and new public - private partnerships are necessary alongside quality research and statistics to inform such policy actions.

In the 2018 Singles’ Day sales in China, 60.3% of online customers paid using biometric recognition technology, instead of inputting payment passwords. They did so either by scanning their fingerprint or taking a selfie, according to Alipay. The acceptance of biometric identification is advancing fast: in 2016, around 95 percent of the people surveyed by China’s Payment and Clearing Association said they “knew about” fingerprint recognition. Now Alipay and WeChat Pay are both are racing towards a future of seamless payment.

Leaders from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) met in Singapore in the margins of the 33rd ASEAN Summit. A joint statement indicated that the RCEP talks “have advanced to the final stage of the negotiations,” but mentioned that the deal will not be completed this year, as initially expected. They welcomed the conclusion of seven chapters out of the overall accord “on economic and technical cooperation, small and medium-sized enterprises, customs procedures and trade facilitation, government procurement, institutional provisions, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures.” They also referred to the need for dealing with remaining gaps on market access. RCEP would be composed by the 10 countries of ASEAN together with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took place in Singapore under the theme “Resilient and Innovative.” The regional bloc comprises 10 Southeast countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The highlights of the meeting were the negotiations on a new ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA), designed to help achieving “free flow of trade in services within the region” and the signature of the ASEAN Agreement on e-commerce.  Taken together, the approval of ATISA, the amendment to the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) form a complete trio of modern and comprehensive ASEAN agreements, according to the bloc’s Economic Ministers”.

On the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, the Economic Ministers of the delegate countries signed the ASEAN Agreement on e-Commerce, which is part of the implementation of the ASEAN Work Programme on Electronic Commerce 2017-2025. The agreement aims to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions and promote confidence in the use of e-commerce in the region to drive economic growth and social development. It comprises commitments on the fields of cybersecurity, data localization and data flows, ensuring that companies and consumers can easily access and move data across borders, without the need to “build expensive and unnecessarily redundant data centres in every market”. The agreement also contains provisions on online consumer protection, personal data protection alternative online dispute resolution mechanisms for e-commerce transactions. In parallel, the ASEAN summit also welcomed the endorsement of the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework, which identifies the economic benefits and challenges posed by digital integration for ASEAN and its Member States, with particular attention to MSMEs.

On 2 November 2018, the Delhi High Court held online marketplace Darvey.com liable for selling allegedly counterfeit Christian Louboutin products. The plaintiff claimed intellectual property rights, considering the platform used the name and image of Louboutin as meta-tags to attract traffic on their platform. Darvey.com claimed that they do not sell any product, but merely enablebooking of orders through their online platform. The ruling of the court observed that when an e-commerce platform is commissioned over unlawful acts, it is no longer a mere passive transmitter or online intermediary. In the same ruling, the court required Darveys.com to present the contact information of all sellers; request certificates from sellers that their products are not counterfeits; and to notify trademark owners before having products available on the platform. The case set a relevant precedent to make clear the extent of safe-harbour possibilities under the Information Technology Act. Since the Baazee.com case-related to the sale of obscene videos, e-commerce businesses have denied liability for products uploaded by users.  



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