China joins WTO talks on US$25 trillion e-commerce market at last minute

China joins WTO talks on US$25 trillion e-commerce market at last minute

China will join a group including the United States and the European Union in negotiating new rules to cover the US$25 trillion e-commerce market, Trend reports referring to South China Morning Post.

The EU and 47 other members of the World Trade Organisation have launched the discussions, according to a Friday statement. If successful, a digital trade accord hashed out through the Geneva-based trade body would establish a baseline international regime for 21st century trade and reduce cross-border hurdles to e-commerce.

China, which for years has heavily restricted use of the internet inside its borders, had resisted joining the talks until Thursday, raising concerns over the language in the statement advocating a “high standard outcome”, according to people familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private.

In a statement, China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation Zhang Xiangchen said China decided to join the negotiations out of concern over a broader crisis surrounding the WTO, which has been coming under attack from US President Donald Trump’s administration.

“The multilateral trading system is in a deep crisis,” he said. “Against this backdrop, the launching of e-commerce negotiation will in a significant way help reinvigorate the negotiating function of the WTO, and shore up confidence in the multilateral trading system and economic globalisation,” Zhang said.

China, which is expected to surpass the US this year as the biggest retail market in the world, adds greater weight to a potential accord.

It is likely to register US$5.5 trillion in online sales this year due to the spread of its powerful online companies like Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post, and Baidu.

But some in the US fear that China could also seek to water down any eventual outcome, and Beijing’s decision to join at the end was tinged with reluctance.

“To be very frank, the current text of the joint statement before us, in our view, could have been better drafted if time allows,” Zhang said.

Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, said in a statement on Friday that the US was seeking an “ambitious, high standard agreement that is enforceable and has the same obligations for all participants”.

He called the digital economy a “powerful force for global economic growth” that should be guided by market-based rules and lowered barriers.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s top trade negotiator, said the inclusion of China was important because of its scale and role in the global economy.

With China on board the negotiations will include WTO members accounting for more than 90 per cent of global trade. But it also served as a sign that the WTO still had life in it.

“It shows that the WTO is still alive and that we can take on board one of the biggest challenges on global trade – e-commerce,” Malmstrom said.

The new rules will seek to reduce barriers that prevent cross-border sales, ban duties on electronic transmissions, ensure the validity of e-contracts and e-signatures and address forced data localisation requirements, according to Friday’s EU statement.

Simon Birmingham, the Australian trade minister, said the hope was that some tangible progress could be made in negotiations before a Group of 20 summit in Japan in June and that the negotiations could be wrapped up next year.

“If anything this is an initiative that started too late because the reality is that e-commerce and digital trade are here, they’re big, and there is an inevitability that the way in which commerce occurs around the world is going to be influenced more heavily by the digital economy,” he said.

The group is expected to hold their first formal negotiating session in March, and movement toward an agreement has been praised by some retailers, including Amazon.

“Amazon welcomes progress made this week by the joint statement group towards a global e-commerce agreement, which has the potential to significantly benefit Amazon’s customers and seller partners by eliminating and preventing barriers to online trade,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Even though Trump’s administration did not send a representative to Friday’s meeting in Davos, the US has been a key contributor to e-commerce discussions ever since they were first floated at the WTO’s 2017 ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires.

Israel reports 873 new COVID-19 cases, 311,724 in total
Israel reports 873 new COVID-19 cases, 311,724 in total
Azerbaijan to win war, only few days left - political analyst
Azerbaijan to win war, only few days left - political analyst
Israel's billionaires hit by Covid-19 economic crisis
Israel's billionaires hit by Covid-19 economic crisis
Loading Bars
Latest
The Azerbaijan Army Units destroy enemy units that subjected to fire our civilian infrastructure and peaceful population - VIDEO
French COJEP issues report on civilian casualties as result of Armenian attacks on densely populated Azerbaijani areas
Nizami Ganjavi International Center discusses renewed fighting between Armenia, Azerbaijan
Georgian Meskhetian Brand Winemaking Company enters new markets
Armenian Armed Forces' attempts to attack prevented in several directions - MoD
Azerbaijan issues statement on handing over bodies of killed servicemen to Armenia
Azerbaijan's MoD notes chaos, mass desertion in Armenian army
Azerbaijan eyes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in upcoming years
Azerbaijan ratifies agreement on interaction of CIS member states' customs authorities
Azerbaijan reveals volume of tobacco production in Shaki district
UK increases import of Azerbaijani-made products
Georgia to cover utility fees of certain citizens starting from November
Canadian company to be engaged in gold mining in Georgia
Azerbaijani AFB Bank's net profit decreases
EBRD supports Georgian transport sector
No simple solution for Karabakh conflict, says Russian president
Azerbaijan approves law to rename 'Veng' village in Khojavand district into 'Chinarli'
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office updates on woman killed following Armenia's missile fire
Azerbaijan to establish embassy in Cuba
Chairman of Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh calls on Canadian MP to apologize
Ombudsman of Azerbaijan sends protest letter to UNICEF regarding Armenian provocations
KAZ Minerals metals output on track to exceed full year production guidance
Reports about shelling of Russian border outpost false, says Azerbaijan's MoD
Servicemen of Armenian regiment refuse to take part in Karabakh hostilities
Russia making vigorous efforts to de-escalate Karabakh conflict as soon as possible - MFA
German allocates additional funds to Georgia for fighting COVID-19
Armenian Armed Forces shelling Azerbaijan’s Goranboy, Tartar, Barda
National Bank of Georgia sells funds at foreign exchange auction
World will lose heavily from enmity with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Turkish top official on Trend's 'Baku-Istanbul' teleconference ((PHOTO/VIDEO)
Discussions related to durable resolution of Karabakh conflict ongoing constantly - OSCE (Exclusive)
CNPC Drilling Company in Turkmenistan opens tender to buy electric batteries
Number of high-ranking Armenian officials dismissed from their posts within month
One more Azerbaijani civilian killed by Armenian Armed Forces - top official
Azerbaijan sharply increases import of eggs from Georgia
Lebanese human rights defenders condemn Armenian vandalism in Beirut
Armenia once again violates ceasefire agreements - FACTS
Azerbaijan increases tea imports from Georgia
VTB Bank Kazakhstan's parent bank expected to facilitate bank's growth plans for 2020-2021
Azerbaijan appeals to UNICEF regarding Armenia's terror against Barda's civilians
Facebook gains court backing in document row with EU regulators
Commissioning of desalination plant in Kazakhstan's semi-desert zone postponed
Number of debit cards in Azerbaijan continues to grow
Georgia reduces imports of construction materials from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan reduces import of cigarettes from Georgia
Residents of Barda fully confident in Azerbaijani army - Executive authority
Georgia increases oil import from Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan reveals details of casualties, injuries in Tartar inflicted by Armenian troops
Electricity production using renewable energy sources increases in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan increases import of passenger cars from Georgia
Kazakhstan decreases imports from Austria
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan down
Austria interested in further promoting economic co-op with Turkmenistan
People like Vladimir Yevseev call on Armenia to commit war crimes - Israeli expert
Ronaldinho films video message in support of Azerbaijan
Missile-hit area of Azerbaijan's Barda city targeted purposefully - Executive Office
Armenian military-political leadership to be punished soon – Azerbaijani prosecutor general
Kazakhstan, Spain trade down nearly threefold amid COVID-19
Bashkortostan boosts fuel export to Uzbekistan
President Ilham Aliyev calls President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Azerbaijan confirms 483 more COVID-19 recoveries
Small industrial zone to be created in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva congratulates brotherly people of Turkey on 29 October-Republic Day
Kazakhstan, Austria agree on Action Plan of Kazakhstan-Austrian Business Council for 2021
Armenian leadership shelled Tartar ignoring visit of diplomats - President's aide
Azerbaijani currency rates for Oct. 29
China's premium car buyers drive VW back to profit
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for October 29
Kraft Heinz third-quarter sales beat estimates
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again rising in Iran
Georgia has record high grape harvest in past 30 years
Int'l journalist sends Letter to Joe Biden in regards to his statement on Karabakh
Armenia shells Goygol district, fire breaks out in forest - Ministry of Emergency Situations
Joint technical committee to be set up related to Khudafarin & Giz Galasi hydro junctions
ADB approves loan to support Georgia’s economic recovery
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan increases value of its agricultural production
Turkmenistan plans to increase natural gas supplies to China
Armenian servicemen, who fire at civilians in Azerbaijan’s Barda, killed on battlefield (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan shoots down two Su-25 of Armenia – Defense ministry
Aircraft of Azerbaijani Armed Forces not involved in today's battles - Defense Ministry
Turkish Airlines to launch multiple charter flights to Georgia
Georgia's economic growth rate to up
Armenia used cluster bombs prohibited by all int'l conventions to attack civilians in Barda - Assistant to First Vice President of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s all Smerch multiple rocket launchers fully operational – Defense ministry
Azerbaijan's Zangilan city liberated not long before 27-year anniversary of its occupation
Azerbaijan hands over bodies of soldiers, captured civilians to Armenia - president's aide
Azerbaijan bombing maternity hospital in Nagorno-Karabakh's Khankendi - fake
Top Iranian cleric condemns Armenia killing innocents in Azerbaijan's Barda city
Azerbaijan to become regional leader in energy efficiency - EU4Energy manager
Assessment of Turkmenistan's hydrocarbon resources published
Barda is beautiful and strong with reinforced determination - top official
Azerbaijani MPs to observe parliamentary elections in Georgia
Georgian vegetable oil company Qarva expanding its business
Assistant to Azerbaijani president, foreign diplomats visit Tartar
Kazakh-Chinese bitumen plant opens tender to buy electric materials
Neighboring countries increase demand to buy subsidized Iranian products
IFRC president makes statement on death of volunteer following Armenia's Barda shelling
Azerbaijan gives update on civil casualties, damages, following Armenia's attacks
Eni’s capex almost halves year-on-year
Criminal case opened on fact of Armenia's missile attack on Azerbaijan's Barda
Destroying historical monuments in Karabakh - against cultural identity of Azerbaijanis
All news