WTO Extends E-Commerce Tariffs Moratorium: Indonesia's Stance Shift?


Members of the World Trade Organization wrapped up the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with a consensus to extend a moratorium on e-commerce and other electronic transaction tariffs for two years. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO Director General, encouraged negotiators to continue discussing the unresolved issues.

At the start of the week, "I said, trying to get achievement gains in these headwinds would be tough. We didn't achieve all we wanted to, but what we did achieve, I think, was pretty amazing," Iweala, whose term ends in August 2025, said during a press conference on Mar 1.

Shri Piyush Goyal, India's Minister of Trade, expressed disappointment over some countries' obstruction of major outcomes. He highlighted concerns regarding the reluctance of certain nations to close deals aimed at ending fishing subsidies and extending a moratorium on digital trade tariffs.

"We feel sad that some countries are still obstructing significant outcomes that could have helped less developed countries and developing countries gain confidence in the working of WTO," Shri stated.

India, Indonesia, and South Africa have signaled their opposition to the moratorium, but they voted in favor of it last week. Opponents of the policy said it denies emerging economies a valuable source of revenue while benefiting advanced countries. Those in favor insisted it kept prices reasonable for consumers and enabled the spread of digital services worldwide.

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