Q4/2019 - World Trade Organization (WTO)
WTO Council, Geneva, 9 – 10 December 2019
On 10 December 2019, the WTO Council decided to extend again the moratorium on the non-taxation of e-commerce transactions, which had been in place since 1998. However, the extension will only be valid until 11 June 2020, when the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference will take place in Nursultan/Kazakhstan. The moratorium has been criticised for years, especially by developing countries. They think that they are losing millions of euros in revenues from digital trade due to the moratorium. The ongoing negotiations - including those that have been started under the title "Osaka Track" after the G20 summit in June 2019 - shall be continued rapidly until the Ministerial Conference in June 2020. Digital trade and digital tax are also priority issues of the Saudi Arabian G20 presidency in 2020.
WTO Blockchain Forum, Geneva, 2 – 3 December 2019
On 2 December 2019, the WTO organised a Global Trade and Blockchain Forum. WTO Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun said at the opening that a global policy for dealing with this technology and greater coordination between all affected and involved stakeholders was needed. Blockchain technology opened up many new opportunities, especially for developing countries. It must be understood, however, that this was not primarily a technical issue, but one that must be integrated into national digitisation strategies and corresponding regulations. Therefore "multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral discussions" were necessary, which the WTO could support on a lasting basis.