The Covid-19 pandemic confronts trade policymakers with unprecedented and urgent challenges:
- To ensure a global recession does not become a global depression;
- To energize the recovery of international trade in goods and services.
- To unlock the full potential of cross-border digital trade for economic growth.
This extraordinary shock requires an extraordinary response. The goal must be ‘to build back
better,’ not simply resume where we left off before the pandemic struck. New ways of
working and greater global collaboration are both vital to advance multilateralism,
strengthen global value chains, reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity.
Concluding a broad-based, ambitious agreement on the digital economy in 2020 is
achievable and necessary to addressing these challenges. The Joint Statement Initiative (JSI)
on Electronic Commerce negotiations must provide commitments the world economy needs,
not what is easy to agree upon. This is not the time for ‘low hanging fruit’ or ‘early harvests.’ A
comprehensive and ambitious outcome by 2020 is needed to address extraordinary
challenges. The outcome of the JSI is critical to progress.
More than one-third of global GDP depends upon digitalisation. All economies and
businesses from MSMEs to MNCs need ambitious commitments to drive economic recovery,
generate welfare gains by leveraging technology, and accelerate on key global policy
objectives, such as climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
To that end, DTN calls on the JSI on Electronic Commerce to:
- Start meeting and negotiating electronically now. The WTO must catch up with other
international institutions who are already working online and the JSI should lead by
- Agree on milestones and deadlines towards a 2020 conclusion – and stick to them.
- Resolve difficult issues and create an agreement that is ambitious and comprehensive. Members need to invest political will to deliver.
- Ensure that developing, and especially least developed Members have access to
technical assistance to enhance their participation in the negotiations.
- Commit to ensuring the successful implementation of the agreement by provisioning
for the necessary technical assistance and capacity building resources in parallel with
the negotiations. The WTO Secretariat should be tasked with facilitating the necessary
We call upon the Ministers of participating Members to agree on these points, remain
personally engaged and commit the political will to resolve outstanding issues for a 2020
DTN will provide further encouragement and ideas in due course.