Co-conveners assess progress in WTO e-commerce negotiations

The co-conveners of the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on e-commerce – Australia, Japan and Singapore – issued a joint communication taking stock of the progress achieved in the negotiations and laying out expectations for 2022. The centrality of digital trade to the world economy, and the importance of the JSI in providing a stable regulatory environment for digital trade were highlighted. The co-conveners reminded that convergence has already been achieved in eight issues: online consumer protection; electronic signatures and authentication; unsolicited commercial electronic messages [spam]; open government data; electronic contracts; paperless trading; open internet access [net neutrality] and transparency. They also noted that good progress has been made on the consolidation of text proposals in other areas, including on customs duties on  electronic transmissions, cross-border data flows, data localisation, source code, electronic transactions frameworks, cybersecurity, and electronic invoicing, as well as advanced discussions on market access. The co-conveners remain optimistic that negotiators will be able to achieve convergence on the majority of issues by the end of 2022. They emphasised the importance of supporting the engagement of developing members and least-developed country (LDC) members in the initiative, and committed to continue to deepen the discussion on capacity-building options for developing members and LDC members in 2022.