Representatives affirm commitment to baseline rules for global digital economy

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

22 members of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on Electronic Commerce (JSI) met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on 20 January 2023, to affirm their commitment to establish a set of baseline rules to govern the global digital economy.  

The members commended the progress of the negotiations so far, including the streamlined consolidated negotiating text issued in December 2022.

Members agreed to continue to exercise pragmatism and flexibility in order to accelerate the ongoing negotiations, and achieve substantial conclusion of the JSI agreement by end 2023.  

In light of the rapid digital transformation of our economies and societies, members agreed that it is timely and important to establish a set of global rules governing digital trade, which is adopted by a broad range of WTO members.

These global rules will provide greater legal predictability and consumer confidence, which will deliver tangible benefits to both businesses and consumers. 

 “The E-commerce JSI will create a strong foundation for a fast-growing and critically important area of trade,” said Australia Assistant Minister for Trade, Senator Tim Ayres. “It will help all participants share in the opportunities and benefits of a rapidly growing digital economy. From the high level of engagement we’ve seen so far, it’s clear that members place great value in this important project of forging the first global digital trade rules.”

Japan Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Nishimura Yasutoshi, said “Digital trade is expected to bring prosperity to all people, including developing members. The global rules on digital trade will demonstrate the revival of the WTO’s relevance, and the materialization of “Data Free Flow with Trust” (DFFT) to facilitate data flow and strengthen consumer and business trust. Co-convenors affirm our commitment and call on the participating members to work towards a substantial conclusion by the end of 2023.”

Singapore Minister for Communications and Information, Josephine Teo, said “The JSI on E-Commerce will have a significant impact on the growth and inclusiveness of the digital economy. It will be a timely update to the current set of international trade rules, provide greater certainty and stability, and enable businesses and consumers to better benefit from the digital economy.

“Members need to intensify efforts to achieve our collective objective of securing a high standard agreement with the widest participation possible in a timely manner in order to harness these opportunities. Singapore, together with our fellow co-convenors Australia and Japan, are fully committed to work with members to intensify discussions towards our collective target of substantial conclusion by December 2023.”