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China, WTO will start talks on e-commerce rules

By Jing Shuiyu and Ouyang Shijia | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-26 07:11

China plans to partner with 76 WTO members to initiate negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce by building on existing WTO agreements, the Ministry of Commerce said.

China signed the Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce with 76 WTO members on Friday at an informal ministerial conference in Davos, Switzerland.

According to the joint statement, members reaffirm the importance of global e-commerce and the opportunities it creates for inclusive trade and development.

The move aims to enhance the benefits of e-commerce for all businesses and consumers across the globe.

The Commerce Ministry said in a statement that China supports the creation of rules on e-commerce by WTO members. It will help revitalize WTO negotiations and advance necessary reforms, enabling the organization to better respond to industry demands and boost confidence in the multilateral trading system and economic globalization, the ministry said.

China considers international cooperation in the e-commerce sector to be of great importance and has promoted the formulation of related rules in bilateral and regional free trade agreements, the ministry said.

Nie Yun, deputy secretary-general of the China Electronic Commerce Association, said China's e-commerce sector has seen fast-paced development in recent years and played a significant role in promoting global trade and economic growth.

The expansion can be attributed to booming mobile internet technologies and advanced e-payment methods, Nie said.

Alibaba's Tmall platform, for example, had record sales of 213.5 billion yuan ($31.6 billion) for the annual 24-hour Singles Day online shopping event on Nov 11, up from 168.2 billion yuan in 2017.

E-commerce is growing faster than expected in China, and consultancy Forrester estimated in a report that China's online retail market would hit $1.1 trillion in 2018. The number is projected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2022.

The nation's online shoppers are projected to surge by 4.6 percent annually, reaching 631 million by 2022, up from 502 million in 2018, the company said.

The report said China's booming e-commerce sector is heavily driven by growth in mobile shopping and consumer spending in categories such as fashion.

Huang Lei, general manager at market analytics provider CBNData, said the rise of a new generation will become a driving force online.

"As the purchasing power of the post-1990s generation grows, the young generation will have a deep impact on the whole of online consumption," Huang said.

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