WTO: 2015 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL


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> Electronic commerce

  

Under the draft decision, the General Council would be asked to continue its periodic reviews of the work programme on e-commerce based on reports submitted by the WTO bodies responsible for implementing the programme. Also, WTO members would be asked to continue the practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the next session of the Ministerial Conference in 2017.

The work programme instructs four WTO bodies to explore the relationship between existing WTO agreements and e-commerce based on proposals submitted by members in the following WTO bodies: the Council for Trade in Services, the Council for Trade in Goods, the Council for Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council) and the Committee on Trade and Development.

At the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, WTO members decided to extend the existing “moratorium” on e-commerce and to abstain from imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 10th Ministerial Conference.

Discussion of e-commerce took place in various WTO bodies in 2014 and 2015. For example, members submitted a number of specific proposals on information sharing on issues related to e-commerce in the Council for Trade in Services. 

The draft decision on electronic commerce forwarded to the Ministerial Conference says:

    “The Ministerial Conference,

    Recalling the 'Work Programme on Electronic Commerce' adopted on 25 September 1998 and reaffirming subsequent Ministerial Declarations and Decisions on the Work Programme,

    Decides:

      1. To continue the work under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce since our last session, based on the existing mandate and guidelines and on the basis of proposals submitted by Members in the relevant WTO bodies as set out in paragraphs 2 to 5 of the Work Programme,

      2. To instruct the General Council to hold periodic reviews in its sessions of July and December 2016 and July 2017 based on the reports that may be submitted by the WTO bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Work Programme and report to the next session of the Ministerial Conference,

      3. That Members will maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until our next session which we have decided to hold in 2017.”

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