China joined 47 other states and the European Union on Friday to negotiate an international set of regulations to govern e-commerce trading under the World Trade Organisation, claiming to do so out of concern for the future of the organisation, Bloomberg reports.
The talks aim to establish preliminary rules that will both regulate and facilitate online retail and trade, reviving plans proposed years ago for such a system.
Prior to the launch of the negotiations on Friday, the Chinese delegation at Davos had reportedly sought to resist joining the group led by the EU and United States. However, China’s ambassador to the WTO, Zhang Xiangchen, said the change of heart was to oppose broader threats to international trade.
“The multilateral trading system is in a deep crisis,” Zhang said. “Against this backdrop, the launching of e-commerce negotiation will in a significant way help reinvigorate the negotiating function of the WTO, and shore up confidence in the multilateral trading system and economic globalization.”
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer commented that Washington was seeking an “ambitious, high-standard agreement that is enforceable and has the same obligations for all participants.”