WTO provisionally agrees to extend e-commerce tariff moratorium: Sources

Geneva, Switzerland Updated: Jun 16, 2022, 11:39 PM(IST)

A logo is pictured at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters ahead of the Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 12, 2022. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

WTO talks went deep into overtime on Thursday with key holdout India talking up the prospects for a landmark deal spanning food security, fishing and combating COVID-19 

At the 12th Ministerial Meeting (MC12), World Trade Organization (WTO) members reached a provisional deal on Thursday (June 16). Citing two trade sources involved in the discussions, Reuters reported that the agreement has done to extend a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions until the next ministerial meeting. 

Major concerns among businesses were raised over the prospect of ending the moratorium, which has exempted data flows from cross-border tariffs since 1998.  

The agreement showed, "We agree to maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until MC13 which should ordinarily be held by 31 December 2023." 

India-based media outlet Business Standard, citing an Indian trade negotiator, reported that the 164 WTO members have finalised a historic trade deal. Although, an official statement is still awaited. 

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the media outlet: "India has agreed to the proposal of no export restrictions on the World Food Programme. But internal food security concerns will take precedence." 

"There is no work programme on agriculture, which could be considered as a good outcome for India as our agri subsidy will not face any further scrutiny," the source added. 

WTO talks went deep into overtime on Thursday with key holdout India talking up the prospects for a landmark deal spanning food security, fishing and combating COVID-19. 

Ministers from the global trade body's 164 members have been negotiating face-to-face since Sunday at the WTO's headquarters in Geneva. 

India's Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was confident as he told reporters, "India is convinced that this will turn out to be one of the most successful ministerial that the WTO has seen in a long time." 

"We are very confident that the progress made... and the positivity with which everybody is engaged truly is a matter of celebration for the world. I'm sure that that spirit will help us cross the hump. We have taken some solid decisions... subject to a few issues being sorted out," he added. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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