WTO members extend the moratorium on electronic transmissions

World Trade Organization members agreed to extend the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), according to decision WT/GC/W/794 from the General Council. The moratorium is usually renewed every two years at the ministerial conference. It was unclear when the moratorium would lapse because the upcoming ministerial in Kazakhstan was postponed from December 2019 to June 2020, and the previous ministerial declaration extended the moratorium until the end of 2019. Members also agreed to reinvigorate discussions carried out under the current Work Programme on Electronic Commerce. These discussions will include ‘all trade-related topics of interest brought forward by the Members, including LDCs, including on scope, definition and impact of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions’. According to analysts, the language on the e-commerce work program was included to address concerns raised by some members, particularly India and South Africa, who are not part of the plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce.