"However, starting negotiations on WTO rules in e-commerce would be premature as the contours of this space are still in the dark," he said at an interactive session on 'E-Commerce, Digital Infrastructure, Trade Rules and WTO' organised by FICCI jointly with Centre for WTO Studies in New Delhi.
Pandey said that several countries were enthusiastic to negotiate multilateral rules to govern international trade through e-commerce. Such rules stand to hurt the interests of most developing countries, including India. India needs to think whether it was prepared to take on the obligations that would bind its stakeholders to an international policy in a sector, which was still evolving.
He said that since July 2016, around 24 papers have been submitted to the WTO for international rule making on e-commerce and countries like Japan have put out highly ambitious papers, pushing their own agenda. In such a scenario, India needed to safeguard its domestic market, which was small in size.
Pandey said that national rule making for e-commerce was also a daunting task as there were many issues which were overlapping in nature. Thus, the varied arms of the Government of India were trying to address the issues pertaining to their domain to help in formulating an overarching national policy for e-commerce.
Addressing an interactive session on ‘e-commerce, digital infrastructure, trade rules and WTO,’ organised by industry body FICCI and Centre for WTO Studies, Mr. Pandey said several countries were enthusiastic about negotiating multilateral rules to govern international trade through e-commerce. However, such rules could hurt the interests of most developing countries, including India, he said, adding India needed time to study whether it was prepared to take on obligations that would bind its stakeholders to an international policy in a sector like e-commerce, which was still evolving.
He said the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was working on a paper on e-commerce, which will soon be put in public domain for debates and comments. Inputs from the feedback could form the basis for a national e-commerce policy, he indicated.
Mr. Pandey said about 24 papers had been submitted to the WTO for international rule-making on e-commerce. India would also engage in discussions with other developing nations on the issue for support for its stance.