More than 70 WTO members agree to start talks on e-commerce regulations

More than 70 WTO members agree to start talks on e-commerce regulations

Iswaran at Davos
Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran speaking to Channel NewsAsia on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday (25 Jan).

DAVOS-KLOSTERS, SWITZERLAND: More than 70 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members, which account for 90 per cent of global trade, have launched talks towards drawing up global e-commerce roles. 

The 76 members are led by Singapore, Australia and Japan. 

Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran, who is also Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, was present at the informal meeting of ministers that took place on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Friday (Jan 25).

Mr Iswaran shared in an interview with Singapore media at the end of his four-day trip in Davos that e-commerce was the bright spot of the economy, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

READ: Rules-based order for cyberspace needed to foster trust, confidence: Iswaran

He added that modern rules were needed to create an open and predictable environment for businesses to thrive.

“Digital trade has the opportunity to include segments of the Singapore economy like SMEs and others, in a way that has never been done before. 

"There is a great deal of focus on how we can take the digital trade agenda forward and electronic commerce is obviously a key component of that,” he said.

Mr Iswaran said that the e-commerce agreement will not only take forward the digital agenda, but also strengthen the WTO as a multilateral agency that is able to continue to respond to the most up-to-date needs of the economy. 

It will do this by creating a set of rules and norms that countries can use as a guide in order to promote their interests, he added. 

The minister also said that business luminaries and global leaders he engaged at the WEF held Singapore in high regard as a country that was able to offer thought-leadership on important global issues.

He added that Singapore was seen as "a place where we are getting things done and not deliberating on a conceptual level, but actually translating (things) into specific policies and implementing them". 

Mr Iswaran said Singapore's ability to occupy a space in the global arena allows it to create more opportunities for its businesses and people.

“Ultimately, Singapore survives and thrives in having global connectivity and the opportunity to work with the global community. 

"I think our continued involvement in fora like the World Economic Forum, and many other international and regional fora, is very important for the future of Singapore and Singaporeans,” he added.

Source: CNA/ad(hs)