Government Said to Seek an End to WTO’s 1998 Tariff Freeze on Digital Trade

Feb 8, 2024


India wants to end the ban on countries imposing taxes on electronic trade, a move that would allow it to impose tariffs on anything from software downloads to video games.

New Delhi will ask WTO members to lift customs restrictions on electronic transmissions, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are not public. The issue will come up for discussion at the WTO ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi in February.

The WTO has imposed a customs duty moratorium on electronic transmissions since 1998, with members extending the rule every two years. Other developing countries such as India and South Africa say the ban leads to loss of tariff revenue and affects their trade competitiveness.

India wants to be able to tax goods that are involved in digital trade, the person said. It will also put pressure on the WTO to bring clarity on the definition of goods in e-commerce, the person said.

Global businesses have opposed lifting the moratorium, and have urged WTO members to keep the restrictions in place to help the industry's post-pandemic recovery and preserve supply chains.

© 2024 Bloomberg LP


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