India looks to fight alone at WTO on global e-commerce rules.
India is fighting a battle alone on global rules for e-commerce trade at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with 70 countries. The pressure on India is evident at most global gatherings. There are a group of countries, and not the entire WTO members came together for a deal. The Indian officials prepared a draft that had talked about restraining from plurilateral agreements and the US, Europe, Japan and China are seeking some rules that will benefit the likes of Amazon, Alibaba, Uber by opening doors to markets across the globe. Government sources said in the recent G-20 meeting, even South Africa indicated that there is little support for blocking an international framework on e-commerce or digital trade and India is going to hold firm as little benefit accrues to consumers and domestic players. “Even if it is 160 countries in favor of global e-commerce rules, India will seek to stop it,” said a source. India’s concern is for the absence of domestic policy as well as free data flow being pushed by the US and Europe. In addition, the government fears that the architecture being proposed may force developing and least developed countries to lower duties and ease restrictions on services trading, something that was being done autonomously. The European Union has sought an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) to cover more goods, something that India has tried to avoid and has not signed ITA-2. Many policymakers believe that signing ITA-1 was a mistake as it restricted the government’s ability to impose import duty on several electronic goods. The US and EU members have openly sought the removal of data localization requirements, although they recognize that privacy needs to be protected.