India seeks talks before WTO fixes ecommerce rules

India has pitched for deeper deliberations to take place before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) defines rules in the ongoing discussions on e-commerce trade.

An official statement said this is being done with an aim to promote inclusive and equitable development of the service at a global level. In line with the same, two papers have been prepared by India for consideration of the Work Programme on Commerce (WPEC) under the WTO. These documents are setting the tone of discussions around consumer protection, and the role of digital public infrastructure in promoting e-commerce.

According to commerce ministry officials, the ongoing deliberations on e-commerce rules at the WTO have not taken into account multiple issues that need to be discussed in detail. These matters, such as liabilities on countries that host defaulters in e-commerce transactions, will require multilateral consensus before the rules achieve finality.

At present, a group of 87 WTO member countries (largely developed ones) are deliberating on digital trade and e-commerce rules. Negotiations were launched in January 2019. India has till now stayed away from these "plurilateral" talks. "The plurilateral discussions have not deliberated on these issues in detail. So all members first need to discuss these issues. First, let us have a threadbare discussion," said Darpan Jain, joint secretary at the ministry of commerce and industry.

He said that India would want e-commerce issues to be discussed under the larger WPEC to ensure that all the stakeholders are taken into account. "We have not suggested any rules or binding obligations in the papers we are presenting before the WTO. They will form the basis for discussions," he added.

The Open Magazine of India by Artmotion Network (

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