New Zealand to take part in talks on global e-commerce rules

New Zealand will take part in negotiations to establish global e-commerce trade rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has today welcomed the announcement that the talks will begin, which will set rules in an area that was not mature when the WTO rules were previously agreed.  

“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 per cent of global trade that have signed on to reiterate their support of the WTO initiative. 

“The CPTPP already has modern e-commerce rules, which underlines the importance of that agreement,” David Parker said. 

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 $19.9 trillion in 2015. In 2017, New Zealanders spent more than $3.6 billion buying goods online, up 13 per cent on the previous year.  

“As a small trade-dependent country distant from our key markets, we are continually looking at ways to improve our 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,” David Parker said. 

“Our participation in these negotiations will ensure we can strongly advocate on a global stage for issues of importance to New Zealanders, including the need for robust personal privacy and consumer protections, transparency and openness, 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 our respective communities.” 

New Zealanders can share their views or register their interest in these negotiations by contacting e-commerce@mfat.govt.nz.

More information on WTO e-commerce negotiations and the outreach process is available at https://www.mfat.govt.nz/wto-e-commerce-negotiations.