India not ready for e-commerce rule-making at WTO, says govt
India is not prepared to take obligations on e-commerce at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as its domestic policies are still evolving, the Commerce and Industry Ministry said.
According to Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, “Our priority right now should be national rule-making. Because e-commerce issues are over-lapping and cross-cutting, rule making becomes difficult. We have a long way to go to reach the level of infrastructure that developed markets like the EU have in place. We are not yet prepared to engage in international rule-making.”
Since July 2016, around 24 papers have been submitted to the WTO for negotiations on e-commerce and countries like Japan have put out highly ambitious papers, pushing their agenda.
A group of WTO members which includes Russia, Japan, EU, Australia, Canada and Chile is trying to push for setting up a separate working group on e-commerce at the WTO Ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires in December with the objective of starting negotiations. India, however, is strictly opposed to it.
Electronic commerce was made a part of the WTO in 1998, but in a limited way. Members had agreed to give a temporary moratorium on import duties on digital transmissions. This moratorium is extended every two years. It was also decided to hold discussions on various aspects of e-commerce, but there was no understanding on negotiating rules.