WTO said to extend e-com tariff freeze in provisional deal
WTO members reached a provisional deal to extend a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions until the next ministerial meeting.
Moratorium on e-commerce
- The 1998 declaration included a moratorium stating that “members will continue their current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmission”.
- The prospect of ending the moratorium, which has exempted data flows from cross-border tariffs, had raised major concerns among businesses.
- Backed by players like the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union, they argued that letting it expire would undermine a global recovery already threatened by spiralling prices.
- "We agree to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until MC13 which should ordinarily be held by 31 December 2023," the agreement showed, referring to the next ministerial conference.
- It said the moratorium would expire in March 2024, should the next conference be postponed.
Members’ nod needed
- The provisional deal was reached in a negotiating room of the WTO's Geneva headquarters among a group of major members and still needs to be backed by the body's 164 members.
- India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa had threatened to block an extension earlier in the five-day ministerial conference, where deals are also being sought on fishing, vaccines and food security.
- India managed to extract some concessions as members sewed up a few deals including reduction in fishery subsidies and temporary patent waivers to fight the pandemic.
- Various issues - Vaccines, Fishing, food security and e-transmission tariff.