India submits document to WTO opposing e-commerce talks

India has submitted a formal document opposing any negotiations on e-commerce at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), saying it would “continue the work under the Work Programme on electronic commerce based on the existing mandate and guidelines”, referring to the programme on e-commerce adopted by the WTO member countries in September 1998.

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India has unambiguously stated in writing its consistent stand on not doing anything beyond the Work Programme, a top Indian business daily reported quoting an official privy to the development.

India maintains that though e-commerce may be good for development, it may not be prudent to begin talks since many countries don’t fully understand the implications of negotiating binding rules.

The submission comes ahead of the December 10-13 WTO ministerial conference at Buenos Aires where India may face pressure to initiate talks to open cross-border digital trade.

In 1998, WTO members agreed not to impose customs duties on electronic transmissions, and the moratorium has been extended periodically. However, since last year, many countries have made submissions on various aspects of digital trade.

Intense efforts are now under way by some countries to secure a mandate to initiate comprehensive negotiations on e-commerce, the report added. 

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