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Indian Think Tank Urges WTO Members to Prioritize Crypto Discussions in E-Commerce Negotiations

The Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), an Indian think tank, is actively pushing to integrate discussions about cryptocurrency within the framework of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) e-commerce negotiations.

India has made a formal request to fellow WTO member countries, urging them to consider issues related to cryptocurrencies during the negotiation of any agreements pertaining to the e-commerce sector. Although the global crypto market has recently gained considerable attention, the existing e-commerce framework within the WTO remains somewhat unclear, as noted by the think tank.

GTRI proposed this initiative during a recent meeting that brought together high-ranking officials from various member states of the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Ajay Srivastava, Co-Founder of GTRI, highlighted that the multifaceted dynamics of the e-commerce landscape provide fertile ground for significant global digital trade opportunities.

“The future of international e-commerce policies will be heavily influenced by decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of cryptocurrencies, as well as the differing stances of influential nations.”

Currently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) engages in discussions related to e-commerce through a collaborative initiative involving 89 member nations and a moratorium. This joint initiative on e-commerce encompasses various critical subjects, such as tariffs, customs clearance, paperless trading, online privacy, and cybersecurity.

Ajay Srivastava emphasized that WTO member countries should place a priority on discussing cryptocurrencies to prevent potential disputes arising from differing interpretations.

Clarity on Crypto Exchanges

GTRI has actively sought clarification on whether cryptocurrency exchanges should be classified as ‘electronic transmissions’ falling within the purview of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) e-commerce framework.

According to their viewpoint, negotiations concerning e-commerce should take into account cryptocurrencies because exchanges involve digital transmissions, thus making them eligible for classification as e-commerce transactions.

The e-commerce moratorium, initially introduced in 1988, imposes restrictions on countries, preventing them from imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions. In June 2022, this moratorium was extended for an additional two years, a decision that faced opposition from India.

India’s opposition stemmed from the belief that the moratorium has detrimental effects on developing nations. India argued that these countries need to safeguard their policy flexibility for digital progress and underscored the importance of regulating imports and generating revenue through customs duties.

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