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Electronic Commerce and the WTO. By Rachel Thompson*
Oct 21, 2002

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  • The issues for the WTO were fairly clear from the outset although most trade negotiators were on a steep learning curve – at an OECD Trade Committee meeting in late 1997 only three participants had used the Internet to buy something – and through 1998-1999 many Geneva negotiators seemed to be viewing the topic in abstract terms and/or as a trade-off for more tangible issues elsewhere on the WTO agenda. In a nutshell, the issues the WTO needed to consider were:

    - Do the existing core Agreements – GATT, GATS, TRIPS – apply to electronic commerce and are there any gaps or ambiguities in that application, i.e., do they need to be supplemented with specific agreements or a horizontal approach to underpin its treatment under the WTO?

    - Is there a need for specific trade-related regulatory guidance in areas like consumer protection and data privacy to ensure that nascent national measures do not become, unwittingly or deliberately, unnecessarily restrictive of trade?

    - What further market access liberalization is required to encourage the realization of a global market place that enables smaller countries and smaller companies to take advantage of e-commerce (e.g. in IT equipment, telecom and computer networks, logistics and freight, and perhaps above all – in access to distribution for products that remain cartelised, from airline tickets to brand-name goods)?

    Consideration of these issues was quickly subverted by the usual WTO horse-trading and zero sum game thinking. Developing countries seemed unable to recognise that unilateral liberalization in this instance would enable access to global commercial networks for their citizens and traders. They worried about giving the US “something for free”, as if enabling ecommerce in one’s own country was the same as letting in crates of US oranges while the US refused to let in your crates of lemons. NGO groups in India, Latin America and Malaysia – where much American and European back-office e-commerce work was being done -- decried the US proposals for a moratorium on tariffs on electronic transmissions, and for further IT equipment and telecom services liberalization, as being solely in the interests of US exports.

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    Comments [Add Comment]

    Capitalism is supposed to be a simple economic system
    posted by Tapart News Advocate on 2/23/2004 at 6:00:48 PM

    "Capitalism is supposed to be a simple economic system. It should make it easier for all mankind to be good. All business enterprises need a markup. This markup should be based on local value added economies from the raw product up through to the production stages and to the retail level. If parts of this process is missing in any given geopolitical setting than the whole is affected. There will always be someone who will do something for less. There are all sorts of manipulations where the making and selling of a product as a reasonable markup will be replaced. Consortiums can find ways to gain market shares by selling certain segments of their commerce under costs. The final water mark in gobalism is down to wage slave labor and even child labor combined with destroying safety and ecology regulations. It is obvious companies move their factories to escape these overheads. Companies also move to escape the entitlement societies and in the end, nations find if more difficult to maintain the social and economic balance that took years to evolve. Catherine Mann uses the 1990s for comparisons with more jobs being dislocated in that time than ever before. Workers were promised help if NAFTA, GATT etc cost them their jobs but few if any got any real help. Over a million lost their jobs in the computer industry alone for the past dozen years. In 1998 while a statistical prosperity was proclaimed by President Clinton over 250,000 lost their jobs in high tech. And this was during the time when government and companies poured in billions of dollars to correct the Y2k crisis. This acted as a false stimulus and all bets are off for this reason in comparing the so called statistical prosperity. Unemployment was actually at 15% or more if compared to any unemployment reporting with the past where full time jobs with benefits were the core of all jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted that they could no longer use any of the data from the unemployment offices since only about 40% of all workers could qualify for unemployment insurance. The majority of workers did not make enough money or work long enough at any one jobs to qualify. Personal bankruptcies, the homeless population, the need for emergency food and the trade deficit broke records but were ignored. Against this backdrop, we have people like Catherine Mann doing her thing with statistics and numbers that just do not add up especially if compared to the more prosperous times in our recent history. It seems the big lie works better than the realities of the street and how people live out these terrible times with millions drifting into a silent depression. For more information, see Tapart News and Art that Talks with commentaries and topical art by Ray Tapajna, Chuck Harder, Paul Donovan and others. See the Cross 9/11 Tangle of Terror Artwork asking who will now untangle the terror Globalism has bred. Read America in Terror by Chuck Harder and the House of Cards economy by Paul Donovan. Help restore the American Dream. Vote out everyone that was part of the passage of NAFTA, GATT, WTO and Fast Track. Reference sites at http://yestapart.bizland.com/tapartnews http://tapsnewstory.filetap.com http://arklineart.fotopages.com"

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