Since 1998, WTO members have regularly extended the moratorium at each ministerial conference and have continued to address e-commerce issues as part of the e-commerce agenda. At the second Ministerial Conference in May 1998, ministers adopted the Global E-Commerce Declaration in recognition of global growth and the creation of new opportunities for trade. This necessitated the development of a work programme for e-commerce, which was adopted in September 1998. Periodic reviews of the programme are carried out by the General Council on the basis of reports from WTO bodies responsible for implementing the programme. Ministers also regularly review the programme at WTO ministerial conferences. E-commerce seminar, 14 June 2001 under the aegis of the Committee on Trade and Development. Work on a global digital trade agreement is accelerating and deserves broad corporate attention and commitment. Over the years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has implemented “e-commerce” projects and bilateral free trade agreements have contained “e-commerce” commitments for more than 15 years. On this basis, representatives from 76 countries announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 25 January their intention to begin negotiations for a WTO-led global trade agreement on e-commerce. These countries are expected to meet in the coming months to discuss the content of an agreement.
Interprofessional organizations and individual companies are therefore developing inputs, making it a key moment for the development of an agreement. The U.S. Trade Representative has a long history of participating in these e-commerce initiatives. For example, on April 12, 2018, the United States presented to the WTO a document detailing provisions on the promotion of digital trade, including the free flow of information, fair treatment of digital products, protection of private information, digital security, facilitation of Internet services, competitiveness of telecommunications markets and trade facilitation. Later in 2018, the United States supported the decision taken at a high-level ministerial meeting in Argentina to move forward, and again in January, first in a joint statement with the EU and Japan, and then with the Group of 76. In his March 6 statement, in which he welcomed a meeting on the WTO`s e-commerce initiative, U.S. Ambassador Dennis Shea (the U.S. Permanent Representative to the WTO) reiterated the expectation of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that an ambitious, highly standardized agreement is achievable and has the same obligations for all participants.