Customs Updated:
31 Jul 2017

Tariff Book (S1 P1)
Consumer Groups Express Support for e-commerce in Multilateral Trade

Senior representatives of consumer organisations met at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters on 06 May, sending a strong message of support for the WTO and the multilateral trading system. They stressed the importance of ensuring consumers’ concerns were taken into account in trade negotiations and policy-making and presented their priorities for e-commerce along with recommendations on how these priorities should be addressed at the WTO.

The meeting, held at the request of Consumers International, is the first event to be organised solely for consumer organisations as part of the WTO's ‘Trade Dialogues’ initiative. It brought together 15 representatives of consumer organisations from around the world in addition to a number of private sector representatives. Participants discussed consumer issues in the trade arena, focusing in particular on the challenges and opportunities provided by e-commerce and how the WTO can help address consumers' concerns in this area.

The opening session of the meeting looked at the importance of consumer groups' engagement with governments to ensure that their concerns are heard in the trade debate. Participants expressed interest in the ongoing work at the WTO, in particular in the negotiations on fisheries and agriculture. They also heard updates on the work conducted at the WTO on electronic commerce.

The first ‘Trade Dialogues’ were held at the WTO in May 2016 and June 2018 at the request of the ICC and the B20 (the business voice of the G20), the business arm of the G20. Both meetings identified a number of pressing issues for the business community. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and B20 subsequently submitted their recommendations to the WTO.

Story by: Riaan de Lange