The Evolving Context and Dynamics of the WTO Joint Initiative on E-Commerce

The fifth-year stocktake and prospects for 2023

This report* provides a state of play of the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Electronic Commerce as of December 2022, focusing on developments in its fifth year, 2022, while situating it in the evolving e-commerce governance landscape at the national, regional, and multilateral levels.

By Yasmin Ismail on March 31, 2023

At the national level, reports on increased policy activity related to e-commerce have warned against increased fragmentation. Regionally, Digital Economy Agreements have emerged as more flexible arrangements that may be more suitable for capturing technological trends and innovations impacting e-commerce, such as artificial intelligence. At the multilateral level, and in the aftermath of COVID-19, bridging the digital divide became the core objective for discussions on reinvigorating the WTO Work Programme on Electronic Commerce.

Recent literature on e-commerce and global trends of e-commerce governance, the dynamics of the JSI negotiations in 2022, and changes in the updated consolidated negotiating text circulated by the JSI co-conveners on December 22, 2022, point to the likelihood that JSI participants will opt for a less ambitious agreement that focuses on the lower-hanging fruit of e-commerce facilitation by the 13th Ministerial Conference while potentially leaving contentious market access focus issues to deal with them later.

This report has been produced with funding by UK aid from the British Government. The Umbrella Grant is a project of the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) and is implemented by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and CUTS International, Geneva. Views expressed in the publication are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect HM Government’s official positions or those of TAF2+.

*Note: This report represents a substantive update of two earlier publications covering developments in the WTO JSI negotiations in 2021 and 2020.

CUTS International Geneva

Report details

Technology and Innovation
Focus area
IISD and CUTS International, 2023