At a meeting on April 20, some Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) shared perspectives on the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions. A WTO moratorium has exempted data flows from cross-border tariffs since 1998.
The WTO agreed last June to maintain the current moratorium until the next Ministerial Conference (MC13), which should normally be held by December 31, 2023. Should MC13 be delayed beyond March 31, 2024, the moratorium will expire on that date unless Ministers or the General Council take a decision to extend it.
So In the fourth of a series of dedicated discussions held this year under the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce, members highlighted the need for more exchanges on issues raised by this e-commerce moratorium, focusing in particular on its definition, scope, and implications on developing countries.
At the meeting, the facilitator of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and the e-commerce moratorium, Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, welcomed members’ exchanges on the issue and noted that a workshop involving relevant international organisations will be held on 1-2 June 2023.
This will be an opportunity for members to discuss the themes of the four thematic sessions conducted under the Work Program so far covering the moratorium, the digital divide, consumer protection, and legal and regulatory frameworks.
NB: In the context of the WTO moratorium, the expression “electronic commerce” only concerns electronic exchanges of data and not the exchange of goods.