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WTO provisionally agrees to extend e-commerce tariff moratorium


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO : This logo was taken at the World Trade Organization’s headquarters in Geneva ahead of the Ministerial Conference, (MC12), which will be held in Geneva (Switzerland) June 12-2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters). WTO members have reached a provisional arrangement on Thursday that extends a moratorium for electronic transmission duties until the next ministerial meetings, which is expected to be in 2023. Two trade sources who were involved in the negotiations told Reuters.

Businesses were concerned about the possibility of ending the moratorium that has been exempting data flows from tariffs across-border since 1998. The United States and Britain, as well as other major players, argued against the moratorium’s expiration, arguing that it would hamper a recovery worldwide already under threat from spiralling costs.

The agreement stated that “we agree to continue the current practice not imposing customs duties electronic transmissions until MC13, which should normally be held by 31/12/2023,” referring to the next ministerial meeting. The agreement stated that the moratorium would end in March 2024 if the conference was postponed.

This provisional deal was made in Geneva’s WTO Headquarters between major WTO members. It still has to be supported by all 164 WTO members.

South Africa, Sri Lanka Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Indonesia had previously threatened to block an earlier extension in the five day ministerial confer. Deals on fisheries, food security and vaccinations are also sought. The reason they decided to change their minds was unclear.