The E15 engages key stakeholders – trade and investment policy makers, business and thought leaders – in policy dialogues in Geneva and around the world to explore and help validate ideas, align interests and strengthen the impetus for change.

Dialogues with WTO Delegates

E-Commerce and Development: Sharing Commitments and Extending Benefits

24 July 2017 , Geneva, Switzerland - 09:00 - 13:00

On 24 July, ICTSD organised a dialogue on e-commerce and development to contribute to discussions on possible ways forward at the WTO towards the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) and beyond.

Considering the widespread recognition of the relevance of electronic commerce in international trade, this roundtable focused on the associated commitments, benefits and potential deliverables WTO delegations have begun to look into in the run-up to MC11.

The economic and social impact of e-commerce transcends the classical divide between developed and developing countries. New business opportunities are created not just in developed markets but also, and perhaps mostly, in developing ones. E-commerce has democratised access to global markets, particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises and international trade is no longer the exclusive domain of large multinational corporations.

In the context of e-commerce, the landscape is composed of a number of proposals. Despite being diverse in scope and sophistication, they all find a shared horizon on MC11, and a significant degree of convergence can be observed on issues related to trade facilitation and institutional strengthening in the context of e-commerce rules.

Working towards the next Ministerial Conference will require both flexible thinking and ambition. Considering all perspectives, particularly the views of developing and least developed countries, could prove pivotal to the success of any initiative towards MC11. It is within this context that an approach to rulemaking designed around a development dimension could be explored while preserving the binding nature of multilateral trade rules.

This dialogue looked at the issue of development and rulemaking on e-commerce, having MC11 as a possible target, with experts and select WTO delegates examining and discussing the nature of e-commerce-related rules, their different subtypes, and their interaction with development driven aspects and challenges at the implementation stage. It also focused on the implementation/compliance of e-commerce related rules, and possible elements to be considered in a quid pro quo scheme between compliance and development.

The meeting followed on from the E15 Engagement Day on the WTO and MC11, held on 26 September 2016, as part of a series of dialogues to be organised over the course of the year to delve further into selected topics as they evolve.