Seventy-six WTO Members, including all the major economies except India and South Africa have agreed to commence negotiations on e-commerce. The growth of e-commerce in India is among the fastest in the world and Indians see an opportunity of leapfrogging the technological and infrastructural barriers to become a leading e-commerce economy.
Apart from the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, not much progress has been made on trade rules relating to e-commerce in the WTO. Now with negotiations agreed upon by a large number of its Members, India has to take a call whether to join in or await a prepared text and accept or reject it. Trade rules are believed to be technologically neutral, and a number of existing agreements have rules that may apply to ecommerce, or give guidance for the way e-commerce shall be conducted under the WTO. India has also taken many steps to install necessary regulatory framework for ensuring a level playing field for e-commerce players at the national level. Still India is in a dilemma whether to join the negotiations. It is time for it to take the call now.Journal of World Trade