European Commission publishes proposals for WTO rules on global electronic commerce

The Commission has published a Communication setting out its proposals for future international rules on e-commerce.

The Commission says that, despite a fast increase in digital trade, there are currently no multilateral rules in this area. In January 2019, a group of 76 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the EU, decided to launch negotiations that should result in a multilateral legal framework that consumers and businesses can rely on to make it easier and safer to buy, sell and do business online.

The Commission says that the rules it is proposing will: guarantee the validity of e-contracts and-signatures; strengthen consumers’ trust in the online environment; introduce measures to effectively combat spam; tackle barriers that prevent cross-border sales; and permanently ban customs duties on electronic transmissions.

A group of WTO Members held a first meeting on 6 March 2019 to agree on the process for WTO e-commerce negotiations. The EU proposal will be discussed alongside proposals from other participating WTO members during meetings planned from 13 to 15 May 2019 in Geneva. To access the Communication, click here.