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New Zealand to participate in negotiations on global e-commerce rules

New Zealand will be taking part in negotiations aiming to establish global e-commerce trade rules at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

According to a recent press release, the talks will set rules in an area that was not yet mature when the WTO rules were previously agreed.

The Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker explained that e-commerce is especially important to small businesses as it enables them to participate in cross border trade previously more practical for larger businesses.

This is especially important in New Zealand because as a smaller country, smaller businesses are the norm.

New Zealand is one of 76 members representing more than 90% of global trade that have signed on to reiterate their support of the WTO initiative.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) already has modern e-commerce rules, which underlines the importance of that agreement.

Globally, e-commerce is growing rapidly with consumer spending online doubling in the last five years and business to business e-commerce trade estimated at NZ$ 19.9 trillion in 2015.

As reported, digital technology is impacting on New Zealand and the rest of the world in many different ways.

It is driving the creation of new products, services and business models. It is disrupting the way that whole industries do business.

It is changing how people live their lives and it is also changing how government makes decisions and interacts with society.

As a small trade-dependent country distant from its key markets, New Zealand is continually looking at ways to improve its global connectedness.

The expansion of e-commerce offers the potential to help businesses overcome the challenges of scale and distance, selling products direct to consumers online and offering more choice for consumers.

New Zealand is getting involved because its businesses and consumers are active users of e-commerce, from selling and buying goods, both physical and digital, via electronic platforms to providing cloud-based storage or processing services.

In 2017, New Zealanders spent more than NZ$ 3.6 billion buying goods online, up 13% than the previous year.

The country’s participation in these negotiations will guarantee that New Zealand can strongly advocate on a global stage for issues of importance to New Zealanders.

These issues include the need for robust personal privacy and consumer protections as well as transparency and openness.

All these while making it easier for businesses and consumers to take advantage of the opportunities presented by e-commerce.

The negotiations will be open to all WTO members, with a key focus on developing trade rules that will deliver more certainty and predictability for small and medium-sized enterprises, and reducing costs and confusion when trading online.

This is an opportunity for the world’s economies to respond to modern commercial realities and work together to ensure that there are globally consistent rules around e-commerce which are fair and which work to the benefit of the respective communities.

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