December 11, 2019

How will digital economy affect E-commerce and trade in the OECS ?

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Saturday, October 26, 2019 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, in collaboration with the , will host a workshop for officials of OECS Member States on the trade-related aspects of electronic commerce (e-commerce). The workshop will take place at the Harbour Club Hotel, on 31st October and 1st November 2019 and will focus on continuing negotiations at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These negotiations are being followed by the OECS Geneva Mission on behalf of OECS Member States.

The negotiators in Geneva are hoping to achieve a new international legal framework that consumers and businesses, especially small ones, could rely on to make it easier and safer to buy and sell online.

The new rules would, for instance, seek to:

  • Improve online consumer protection and boost consumers’ trust in the online environment;
  • Enhance personal information protection;
  • Tackle barriers that prevent cross-border electronic sales;
  • Improve efforts to address cybersecurity;
  • Address forced data localisation requirements and forced disclosure of source code; and
  • Take into consideration the technical assistance and capacity building needs of developing and least-developed countries.

The workshop will be officially opened by The Hon. Bradley Felix, Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, Saint Lucia.

Remarks will be delivered by Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission and Dr. Brendan Vickers, Adviser & Head, International Trade Policy, Commonwealth Secretariat.

The OECS Commission recognises that e-commerce, and the wider digital economy, continue to grow exponentially.

For example, according to the International Post Corporation, cross-border e-commerce sales are expected to grow by 141% between 2016 and 2021. Increasingly, businesses and consumers in the OECS are seeking to capitalise on electronic transactions. Therefore, binding international rules on e-commerce will have implications for the ways in which all countries, including our own, participate in the digital economy.

Currently, a group of about 80 WTO Members are engaged in negotiations on e-commerce known as the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI), launched in January 2019. While no OECS Member State is a member of the JSI, Member States are nonetheless interested in determining how e-commerce can be harnessed to help support their development. This workshop will provide an opportunity for officials to be sensitised on the discussions at the WTO.

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