Multilateral Trade Negotiations – WTO
The key forum for promoting and negotiating a liberal trade environment for electronic commerce internationally is the World Trade Organization (WTO). As electronic commerce is a truly interdisciplinary matter, most of the major agreements falling under the WTO are significant:
- The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT);
- The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS);
- The Information Technology Agreement (ITA); and
- The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
In many respects, however, it is the trade in services negotiations (and therefore the GATS) that are most relevant, as many services are both enablers and users of electronic commerce. GATS contains the disciplines that guarantee the rights for market access in various sectors to conduct international business electronically.
Details on current service trade negotiations, including Canada's position, can be found on the DFAIT website. Industry Canada is responsible for representing the interests of the two major stakeholders—Canadian consumers and businesses—in international negotiations through consultations with various industries and civil society groups. These interests are pursued by seeking market access commitments in key services while promoting harmonization of policy and regulatory frameworks internationally, in areas such as privacy and security for instance.
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