India To Oppose Rules In E-commerce At G-20 Meet

India is likely to oppose attempts by developed countries, including Japan, at the G-20 Ministerial meeting on trade and digital economy at Tsukuba City, Japan, beginning this weekend, to get a consensus on initiating multilateral rule-making for e-commerce.

Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, who will represent India in the meet, is expected to stick to India’s stance so far of saying no to e-commerce negotiations on rules, a government official told BusinessLine.

“The G-20 meeting will be the Minister’s first international engagement after taking charge of his new portfolio. He is expected to argue that it would be premature to go in for multilateral rules on e-commerce as the sector was still evolving,” the official said.

Japan, which is one of the countries keen to negotiate on e-commerce rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO) platform, is likely to push for consensus on the matter amongst G-20 members using its role as the host country.

G-20 comprises of the EU as a bloc and 19 countries including Argentina, India, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, the US, China, Australia, South Africa, Turkey and the UK.

Support from S Africa

Amongst all G-20 members, India has the support of South Africa in its opposition to rule-making in e-commerce. “We are sure that South Africa’s position on e-commerce rules is the same as India’s. The two countries are likely to put together a strong opposition,” the official said.

India and South Africa are also not party to the plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce launched by over 70 members, including the EU, Switzerland, Australia, China, Korea, Nigeria, Norway, Russia and Panama, at the WTO.

The Ministerial meeting in Tsukuba, on June 9-10, will be important as it will set the tone for the meeting of Heads of State at the G-20 meeting in Osaka later this month.

“India has to negate attempts of including e-commerce rule-making in the G-20 declaration to be signed by the Heads of State. If this happens, the pressure on India to agree to e-commerce negotiations at the WTO will multiply,” the official said.

India has earlier stated at the WTO that multilateral rules and disciplines in e-commerce would be premature at this stage given the asymmetrical nature of the existing global e-commerce space. The UNCTAD’s report on Trade and Development, 2018 also warns developing countries on how they could lose out to digital monopolies, unless they take charge of their trade and investment policies.―The Hindu Business Line

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