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E-Commerce Rules Must Be Universal

E-Commerce Rules Must Be Universal

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9/6/2019

New opportunities and evolutionary challenges for the world trade related to the ongoing transition of an increasing volume of B2B and B2C transactions to the digital environment, the key trends in the digital transformation of the economic and social life of society, as well as the necessary measures to create favorable conditions for the participation of Russian manufacturers in the global digital economy were among the topics discussed on September 5 at the Eastern Economic Forum during the panel session “The Digital Transformation of International Trade: E-commerce and Beyond”.

In her speech, Veronika Nikishina, Member of the Board – Minister in charge of Trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), noted the importance of shaping an effective state regulation in e-commerce. She drew particular attention to the need to ensure proportional regulatory impact of government measures, their balanced focus on stimulating the creation of modern digital businesses across the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the inclusion of traditional sectors of the economy in electronic commerce, as well as the protection of consumer rights and personal data.

According to the EEC Minister, the Union faces a number of regulatory challenges in connection with the transformation of economic relations, now that e-commerce has come to almost every home and office. They include the ambiguity of VAT payments for cross-border digital trading operations in the B2C segment, as well as the issues of ensuring the safety of products purchased via electronic trade channels and delivered in mail.

“International and national trade rules, which have been written for decades to regulate traditional trade turnover channels, today prove ineffective and insufficient to regulate e-commerce. And it is extremely important for us to ensure that the new regulation to be introduced is effective, on the one hand, and, on the other, does not become excessively limiting for entrepreneurs, in order to avoid creating worse conditions for business development in our jurisdiction compared to other countries”, - said Veronika Nikishina.

According to UNCTAD statistics, the majority of countries (79%) already have legislation for online transactions, 52% of countries have developed legislation in consumer rights protection, 58% - in personal data protection, and 72% of countries have adopted legislation in combating cybercrime.

According to the EEC Minister, the EAEU countries need to be active players in the development of an international standard in electronic commerce. The WTO can become the platform for such work, but it needs to prepare as soon as possible a set of rules for regulating e-commerce with terminology and key points, as it had been done in traditional trade, which has served as the basis for international trade for many years. “As we do not have such international standards yet, we are trying to solve this problem by filling the legal vacuum in our trade with the main partners of the Union through the relevant sections of the agreements on free trade and trade and economic cooperation we conclude”, - said Veronika Nikishina.

The session was also attended by Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov, State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Viktor Yevtukhov, Director General of FSUE Russian Post Nikolay Podguzov, Director General of Russian Export Center, JSC Andrey Slepnev and others.