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WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce: Co-conveners’ Update Released

December 15, 2020

On December 14, 2020, Japan, Australia and Singapore, co-conveners of the WTO Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on E-Commerce, released a Co-conveners’ Update on the progress in the negotiations so far.

The JSI continued the negotiations in virtual meeting format since March 2020 due to COVID-19, and achieved the milestone of developing a consolidated negotiating text by the end of 2020. The JSI will accelerate the negotiations aiming to deliver substantial progress by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled to be held in 2021.

Key points of the released update are as follows:

Japan issued the Osaka Declaration on Digital Economy, taking the opportunity of the G20 Osaka Summit Meeting in 2019, and declared the launch of “Osaka Track,” an approach to international rule-making for digital economy, in particular, data flows and e-commerce. One of the main efforts of Osaka Track is the rule-making on e-commerce in the WTO, and Japan, as a co-convener of the JSI, has been leading the negotiations, together with Australia and Singapore.

As digitalization of economy and society has become indispensable due to COVID-19, the incentive to further promote global cooperation on e-commerce has been stronger in a variety of countries. Toward MC12, Japan will accelerate negotiations to achieve a high standard and commercially meaningful outcome, with the participation of as many WTO members as possible.

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