On January 25th, 2019 in Davos, 62 Sates discussed the possibility of agreeing on new rules governing electronic commerce and the prospects of extracting benefits from this sphere in the interests of all Member-States.
Following the meeting, 76 countries with 95% of world trade share issued a Joint Statement, which confirmed the intention to begin negotiations on the trade aspects of electronic commerce at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Republic of Kazakhstan also joined this Statement and urged WTO Member States to adhere to a flexible and staged format of discussion around this sphere, taking into account the institutional and human capacities of the negotiating countries. In this regard, the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN office and other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Zhanar Aitzhanova proposed to divide the discussion on the issue into three stages: 1. WTO-related aspects of electronic commerce, i.e. elements within the regulatory scope of the WTO agreements; 2. Trade-related aspects of electronic commerce that are not covered by the WTO regulation; 3. systemic issues of broad scope, such as regulation of the Internet space and data localization. In the opinion of the Republic of Kazakhstan, this will allow to transform the format of negotiations from plurilateral to multilateral and ensure inclusiveness of the negotiation process for developing and least developed countries.
To date, there are four proposals on the format of future negotiations, which can be divided into two areas: 1. work within the existing legal framework of the WTO by further liberalizing access to the goods and services markets; 2. development of proposals of a systemic nature relating to the regulation of the Internet space and the digital environment.In this context, the dynamically growing role of e-commerce in the global economy and international trade should be taken into account. In 2018, for example, e-commerce share in world trade reached 12% and by 2030 this figure is expected to rise up to 34%. In this regard, it is extremely important for the WTO to respond in a timely manner to possible challenges and threats associated with the development of this sphere in order to remain relevant to the requirements of a modern global trade.