Q2/2020 - Welthandelsorganisation (WTO)

Die auf 2021 verschobene WTO-Ministerkonferenz hat auch den Zeitplan für die Verhandlungen zu einem neuen Abkommen über den elektronischen Geschäftsverkehr und digitalen Handel verändert. Das seit 1998 mehrfach verlängerte Moratorium für Zölle auf grenzüberschreitende digitale Dienste sollte im Juni 2020 auslaufen und durch einen neuen Vertrag ersetzt werden. Die Pandemie hat jedoch nach Ansicht der WTO die Dringlichkeit einer WTO-Regelung für eCommerce eher vergrößert. In einem Informationspapier unter dem Titel „E-Commerce, Trade and the Covid-19 Pandemic“ stellt die WTO fest, dass der globale Lockdown zu einem enormen Anstieg von grenzüberschreitenden digitalen Dienstleistungen geführt hat. Einige Diensteanbieter hätten binnen eines Monats Zuwachsrasten von bis zu 70 Prozent zu verzeichnen. Das WTO-Papier argumentiert, dass die Zuwachsraten der besonderen Situation im Zusammenhang mit dem Virus geschuldet seien, dass aber insgesamt die mittel- und langfristigen Folgen der Pandemie zu einer erheblichen Ausweitung der internationalen Geschäftstätigkeit im Bereich des elektronischen Handels führen wird. Hier kündige sich eine nachhaltige Entwicklung an, die auch zu einer Neubewertung des Verhandlungsansatzes zu eCommerce und digitalem Handel im Rahmen der WTO führen könnte[1].

Mehr zum Thema
  1. [1] WTO report looks at role of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic., Genf, 4. Mai 2020: „The enforcement of social distancing, lockdowns and other measures in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic has led consumers to ramp up online shopping, social media use, internet telephony and teleconferencing, and streaming of videos and films.This has resulted in spikes in business-to-consumers (B2C) sales and an increase in business-to-business (B2B) e‑commerce.(1) The increase in B2C sales is particularly evident in online sales of medical supplies, household essentials and food products. Demand has also increased for internet and mobile data services. The network capacity and spectrum to accommodate the shift to online activities has urgently had to be adapted by both operators and governments. Demand has fallen, however, for certain services with a large online component, such as tourism services. E‑commerce for goods and services trade has been adversely impacted by the same factors that have caused disruption in supply and demand overall. Such disruptions have resulted in delivery delays or outright cancellation of orders. Several other e‑commerce-related challenges have arisen or been further amplified during this pandemic. These include price gouging (i.e. increasing prices to unreasonably high levels), product safety concerns, deceptive practices, cybersecurity concerns, the need for increased bandwidth, and development‑related concerns. The pandemic has highlighted the glaring need to bridge the digital divide, both within and across countries, given the central role the digital economy has played during the crisis. Many traditional obstacles have been accentuated and have continued to hamper greater participation in e‑commerce activities by small producers, sellers and consumers in developing countries, particularly in least-developed countries (LDCs). This has underscored the need for efficient and affordable information and communications technology (ICT) services, such as telecommunication, computer and other IT services and emerging technologies. Governments have adopted new measures, and the private sector has also acted, to respond to and ensure that e‑commerce can help to alleviate some of the challenges faced in combatting the virus. These have included increasing network capacity, offering expanded data services at little or no cost, lowering or scrapping transaction costs on digital payments and mobile money transfers, improving delivery services and other logistics, using digital tools to enforce measures and disseminate information, promoting telehealth services, and leveraging ICT for surveillance. The global nature of COVID‑19 and its impact on e‑commerce may encourage strengthened international cooperation and the further development of policies for online purchases and supply. The pandemic has made it clear that e‑commerce can be an important tool/solution for consumers. E‑commerce can also support small businesses and, by making economies more competitive, be an economic driver for both domestic growth and international trade. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital technologies in general, but also several vulnerabilities across the world. The resulting experiences and lessons are relevant to various discussions in the WTO, including those on electronic commerce, which could benefit from looking at greater international cooperation to facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services, narrow the digital divide, and level the playing field for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).“, in: https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news20_e/rese_04may20_e.htm