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techUK leads global coalition urging high ambition in WTO e-commerce negotiations

techUK, in collaboration with prominent international trade associations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, and Global Data Alliance, has spearheaded a joint appeal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the sustained pursuit of ambitious goals in the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) e-commerce negotiations.

Published yesterday, the multi-association letter underscores the critical role of achieving a robust global agreement on digital trade in fostering collective economic development, growth, prosperity, and employment. Despite expressing disappointment at the withdrawal of support from the Office of the United States Trade Representative for core digital trade principles, the coalition of associations remains steadfast in its belief that economies must persist in seeking high ambition. 

The coalition particularly emphasises the need for negotiators to focus on key areas, including:

  • Data flows across borders,
  • A permanent moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions,
  • Non-discrimination of digital products,
  • Prohibition of disclosure or transfer of source code or algorithms, and
  • Disciplining discriminatory data localization policies – in particular, the requirement to install computer-related equipment within the country as a condition for conducting business. 

techUK and the wider global coalition partners remain committed to advancing a comprehensive, high-standard global baseline agreement on digital trade, recognising its pivotal role in shaping the future of international commerce. The plea for continued high ambition echoes the broader call for collaboration and shared commitment to realising the potential of a digitally interconnected global economy.

Sabina Ciofu, Associate Director for International Trade at techUK, yesterday said: 

“As WTO negotiations get underway in Geneva today, it is a crucial moment for the industry to highlight again the importance of a high ambition deal on e-commerce. There is real risk in delaying or postponing the key elements of the negotiations, as fragmentation creates barriers for business operating across borders and increases the digital divide globally. 

“It is Small and Medium-sized enterprises that bear the brunt of a lack of global rules for e-commerce, as they have to navigate the costs and uncertainties of a more divided world. We call on the WTO JSI negotiators to deliver a robust agreement that will spread the benefits of digital trade to all.” 

You can read the full letter here.


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