This E15 dialogue was designed to bring together Geneva-based trade delegates, ambassadors, and representatives of trade-related international organisations to discuss how a development dimension could be vital to advancing multilateral negotiations on e-commerce.
To this end, the dialogue focused on further understanding the existing proposals at the World Trade Organization, in particular, by identifying areas of convergence and debating on how a development dimension could be introduced into a multilateral process.
Both developing and developed country representatives actively engaged in the discussions, and were able to provide all attendees with a much clearer picture of their expectations and ambitions towards the upcoming WTO’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference and beyond.
Participants acknowledged the importance of e-commerce and its impact on development. Further, developing and least developed country representatives highlighted the need to narrow down their knowledge gap as a preparatory step towards the initiation of an e-commerce debate at the WTO. In addition, there was some discussion on the procedural aspects of a possible negotiation at the WTO, including the definition of the appropriate forum and the requirement of a specific mandate. Finally, there was an interesting debate around the development principles governing the Trade Facilitation Agreement and how they could be applied to e-commerce. In particular, exploring a quid pro quo between obligations/commitments and capacity building and technical assistance.
Given the level of engagement and considering the proximity of the next WTO Ministerial Conference, follow-up discussions that focused on possible concrete options/alternatives for the incorporation of a development dimension into an e-commerce discussion were welcomed.
The meeting followed on from the E15 Engagement Day on the WTO and MC11, held on 26 September 2016, as part of a series of dialogues intended to delve further into selected topics as they evolve.