E-commerce games

E-commerce games

Issue:

  • India decided to stay out of the WTO e-commerce negotiations announced by about 75 members at the World Economic Forum in Davos

 Negotiation agendas:

  • Free flow of data located on computer servers without data localization requirements
  • Permanent moratorium on customs duties
  • Non-disclosure of source code
  • Prohibition of forced technology transfer

Reasons for India opted to stay out of E-commerce negotiation:

  • Not to be part of any plurilateral talks because such initiatives strike at the very root of multilateralism
  • India’s huge data reserve and its impact on real economy and management of data without compromising privacy and security considerations are still in progress
  • RBI’s recent policy mandating data localization through local servers would be challenged in such negotiation
  • Unsettled E-commerce regulations especially those related to foreign direct investment: marketplace and inventory model

Problems with E-commerce:

  • Highly asymmetrical space with a few dominant players having the potential to distort a level playing field
  • Definition and Meaning of e-commerce varies from one country to the other
  • E-commerce rules are yet at nascent stage

Way forwards:

  • India should manage its huge precious data resource on its own terms
  • Status-quo on e-commerce should be maintained till developing countries understand what is at stake in the area of global e-commerce rule-making
  • Provide weight to India similar stand on e-commerce issues at ongoing talk of RCEP
  • China is a proponent of e-commerce negotiations both at the WTO and RCEP is another reason for India to step carefully
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