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EU pushes its vision of ecommerce trade at WTO

The EU Is currently putting forward its ecommerce proposals for the WTO negotiations on ecommerce trade. Readers will recall that only Kenya agreed to work on an accelerated ecommerce trade system with WTO (both Nigeria and South Africa refused to sign up). The aim is to get a trade deal to govern global ecommerce. The Proposal covers contracts and consumer protection, and transfers of data aimed at facilitating cross-border data flows, ie doing away with unnecessary requirements (equipment facilities, network, data storage, data processing localisation). Observers have noted that Africa needs unity in setting ecommerce rule in a more global perspective. In January 2019, 76 WTO Members (including the EU, US, China and Russia and several African countries) began re-negotiating the WTO’s ecommerce rulebook to update it to the technological reality of today and make it fit for current requirements in digital trade, so far with limited African involvement. SA’s new Minister for Trade, Ebrahim Patel, was member of the COSATU delegation to the WTO while still working in Trade Unions, and co-authored an International Labour Organisation (ILO) paper on the dangers of globalization some years ago. Whether he will over-turn previous negative attitudes by SA towards the WTO is to be seen.

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