Actas - Consejo de los ADPIC - Ver detalles de la intervención/declaración

Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
Unión Europea
298. The EU considers e-commerce as one of the important topics of future WTO work. This is the area where achieving progress could benefit the membership at large, and provide tangible results for our economies and citizens, both in developed countries as well as in developing countries. The digital economy has developed remarkably in the past decades, our trade practices have evolved accordingly to capture those developments, but only limited progress has been achieved in the WTO. The major gaps in the multilateral rulebook have been acknowledged by many in the post-Nairobi discussions, with Members indicating their interest and readiness to look into this issue in the WTO context more thoroughly than in the past. This interest has been demonstrated by numerous submissions in the context of the E-Commerce Work Programme last year. 299. To facilitate the discussions on the potential WTO work in this area, the EU and other co-sponsors of the communication JOB/IP/21 attempted mapping trade policy-related issues that impact e-commerce. This communication was originally submitted in the context of the E-Commerce Work Programme in July 2016. However, since a number of Members considered it useful to have technical discussions on e-commerce in regular committees we have submitted our communication to the GC, CTS, CTG and CTD. We consider it also useful in the TRIPS Council context. 300. Turning to the substance of our submission, it includes a list of elements of trade policy that are relevant for e-commerce including the rule making, liberalization commitments as well as facilitation measures. The development dimension cuts across the entire list of issues. As indicated in the paper, the submission does not present an exhaustive list of issues, it is not a negotiating proposal, and is without prejudice to what elements the co-sponsors would seek to pursue. 301. This paper is meant to be a starting point of a conversation. For the sake of discussion we have tentatively grouped all the elements we have identified around four clusters: a. All that pertains to rules that enhance transparency and promote the confidence of consumers, i.e. consumer protection, privacy, spam etc., or that facilitate trade by ensuring that regulatory barriers are addressed, such as for electronic payments or access to the internet. b. Open markets, which covers liberalization measures, both in the form of bindings for goods and services, and of measures addressing trade barriers in relation to data flow, localisation requirements or source code. c. Initiatives facilitating the development of e-commerce beyond rules and liberalization measures; e.g. many initiatives contribute to enhancing e-commerce, regulatory cooperation, customs facilitation measures or technical assistance. d. Enhanced transparency at the WTO where we have identified a series of ideas on how the WTO can continue to play an important role in enhancing transparency of Members' policies that relate to e-commerce. 302. Against this backdrop, the co-sponsors invite WTO Members to consider a series of questions, notably with respect to this mapping exercise, and to come forward with more ideas as well as comments and questions in order to continue a focused technical work. We particularly invite Members to reflect if there are additional e-commerce-related elements of trade policy which should be included in the mapping, and on what elements would Members wish to have focused technical discussions in the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. 303. Many will agree that e-commerce is an area where the WTO could demonstrate its continued relevance in the modern economy and we suggest that WTO Members actively engage in defining the longer term priorities and potential short term deliverables to be considered for negotiations in the respective negotiating bodies.
The Council took note of the statements made.
69. The Chairman informed the Council that, to prepare the discussion under this item, Brazil had submitted a communication on Electronic Commerce and Copyright (document JOB/IP/19) which had been co-sponsored by Argentina. He suggested that Brazil introduce the agenda item and discuss the issues that it was proposing for consideration, and that the Council then turn to three other submissions related to the Work Programme on E-Commerce which the respective co-sponsors might wish to introduce.

70. He recalled the most recent mandate in the field of e-commerce and the state of play of the work. At MC10 in December 2015, Ministers had decided to "continue the work under the Work Programme based on the existing mandate and guidelines and on the basis of proposals submitted by Members in the relevant WTO bodies". They had also instructed the General Council to hold periodic reviews "based on the reports that may be submitted by the WTO bodies entrusted with the implementation of the Work Programme and report to the next session of the Ministerial Conference" (document WT/MIN(15)/42 – WT/L/977).

71. In June 2017, the TRIPS Council had resumed discussions on e-commerce. This discussion had been based on Canada's written submission circulated in document IP/C/W/613. Canada had shared its national experience to fight the selling of counterfeit products over the internet. At the Council's meeting in November 2016, Canada had called for a continuation of the sharing of national experiences and practices as this would support the Council to respond to the Ministerial mandate. In line with the addendum to its earlier communication (document IP/C/W/613/Add.1) Canada had also said that it wished to consult with other delegations on how to advance the Work Programme on E-Commerce in this Council. It had been joined by a number of other delegations.

72. The Chairman also referred to three other communications under this item: a communication on Electronic Signatures that had been co-sponsored by the delegations of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay (document JOB/IP/20); a communication on Trade Policy, the WTO and the Digital Economy that had been circulated at the request of the delegations of Canada; Chile; Colombia; Côte d'Ivoire; the European Union; the Republic of Korea; Mexico; Montenegro; Paraguay; Singapore and Turkey (JOB/IP/21 of 13 January 2017); and a communication on Electronic Commerce and Development, recently circulated in document JOB/IP/22 at the request of the delegations of Brunei Darussalam; Colombia; Costa Rica; Hong Kong, China; Israel; Malaysia; Mexico; Nigeria; Pakistan; Panama; Qatar; Seychelles; Singapore and Turkey.

73. The representatives of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, Switzerland, the United States, Norway, the European Union, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Canada, the Republic of Moldova, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, Colombia, the Russian Federation, Chile, the Republic of Korea, India and New Zealand took the floor.

74. The Chairman said that, in light of the discussions and the earlier exchange of views at the Council's meetings in June and November 2016, there seemed to be a continuing interest of delegations in discussing issues related to intellectual property and e-commerce. He therefore encouraged Members to consider how to carry forward issues related to e-commerce in the TRIPS Council. An in-depth debate would, indeed, constitute a sound basis for the Council to contribute to the periodic review that the General Council had been requested to hold, as well as to provide input for the General Council report to the next Ministerial Conference. Such a discussion would be an opportunity to create a clear and inclusive factual picture of the current state of affairs as the foundation for informed dialogue between Members.

75. The Council took note of the statements made.

IP/C/M/85, IP/C/M/85/Add.1