PH highlights need for stable environment for e-commerce

PH highlights need for stable environment for e-commerce
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LED by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine delegation at the World Trade Organization's (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) stressed the need to support the growth of the digital economy and build an enabling environment that maintains certainty and predictability for our businesses and consumers, including the millions of jobs that depend on it.

“Like many developing members, digital trade, including electronic commerce, is of key strategic interest to the Philippines. Specifically, we see digital innovation among the many aspects of the broad digital trade and digital economy as a primary mover in accelerating economic development,” said DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

He noted with interest the 2023 report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company that the Philippines' digital economy is expected to continue its double-digit climb toward US$35 billion by 2025, which is largely fueled by e-commerce.

At the MC13, one crucial issue that needs to be resolved is the extension of the moratorium on imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions. It is viewed that extending the moratorium will foster digital inclusion by lowering barriers for businesses and consumers, boosting incomes for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through wider markets, and bridging the digital divide.

Noting that there is a strong interest among WTO members to hold further deliberations and examine additional empirical evidence on the scope, definition, and impact of the moratorium and the fact that WTO has yet to establish comprehensive rules and disciplines on e-commerce, Pascual saw the value in extending the moratorium to ensure stability in the business environment and prevent unintended consequences or disruptions in trade.

He also underscored the critical role of the WTO moratorium on e-commerce custom duties in propelling the growth of the digital economy and ensuring an inclusive and sustainable future for the e-commerce sector.

He said this will help increase digital inclusion, especially in developing countries like the Philippines to actively participate in the global digital marketplace.

In the working session, members engaged in substantive discussions on the Work Programme on E-commerce, which is aimed at preserving a conducive environment facilitated by the WTO for the global digital economy. (PR)


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