Developing nations need policy space in ecommerce: India to WTO : 23-10-2018

India has told the World Trade Organization (WTO) that developing countries need to maintain policy space in certain aspects of ecommerce such as ownership and use and flow of data in “sunrise sectors like cloud computing and data storage.”

Citing gaps in understanding on effects of ecommerce on competition and market structures, India said policy space is needed in the facets related to hosting of servers as well as big data analytics and M2M (machine-to-machine) communication in the era of internet of things.

“Advance of digital technologies, automation and robotisation will result in the loss of a large proportion of traditional jobs in the technology sector,” India said at a meeting of the trade negotiations committee in Geneva last week.

Developing countries, Indian trade negotiators said, are deficient in understanding issues related to technology transfer in the ecommerce space. However, India is committed to reviving work on the multilateral track, with its “non-negotiating mandate” to understand these issues better.

India’s statement comes in the wake of Canada, a proponent of launching ecommerce negotiations at the WTO, hosting a high-level mini-ministerial meeting this week to which New Delhi is not invited. “Canada is hosting a mini-ministerial on reforms…we are not invited,” said an official in the know of the details.

Canadian trade envoys are said to have told the WTO that there is a need to transition to a more concrete phase, while maintaining and broadening the participation on ecommerce issues.

Following the joint statements agreed in the Buenos Aires ministerial conference last year, work is already ongoing in the areas of domestic regulation, ecommerce and investment facilitation.

The European Union, which is also party to these talks, has already asked for establishing disciplines covering digital trade. In its concept paper on WTO modernisation, the EU said it is important to remove “unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means, to bring legal certainty for companies, and to ensure a secure online environment for consumers”.

It highlighted cross-linkages to addressing “forced technology transfers” such as disclosure of source code requirements and said new disciplines should cover not only trade in services, but apply to all economic sectors.

Source : Economic Times

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