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Business and the Digital Promise for Development

Public Symposium: The Doha Development Agenda and Beyond, (WTO)


Moderator: Ayesha Hassan ICC International Secretariat

Philippe Wintrebert,
AT&T, Hasan Irfan Khan, ICC-Pakistan Member , Claudio Murri, EMEA, Michaela Eglin, ICC-Geneva

The WTO: The role of Parliamentarians?  
Development Opportunities from Doha
Business and the Digital Promise for Development
Market Access — What is at stake?

Key points from presentations:

Background on ICC as world business organization, with membership in over 130 countries, multi-sectoral business representatives from multi-nationals to small & medium size enterprises

ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms focuses on key policy and regulatory issues that affect growth in these issue areas as critical components of development and produces practical information and tools for easy use by developing countries to assist in establishment of necessary infrastructures, legal and regulatory frameworks to promote accessibility and connectivity

E-commerce is a new and dynamic vehicle to deliver goods and services on a major scale, thus basic value-added telecommunications services are critical components of the e-commerce and information technology infrastructure

ICC sets forth the following negotiating objectives for the next round of WTO negotiations:

  • To promote the development of the infrastructure that is necessary to conduct e-commerce;

  • To promote the development of trade in goods and services via e-commerce and

  • To prevent the establishment of new barriers to e-commerce

See attached ICC policy statement Trade related aspects of electronic commerce and telecommunications. All key components of this statement were presented and discussed.

Issues raised during the presentations:

Developing countries need increased connectivity and the elimination of obstacles to trade and telecommunications development

The work of liberalizing telecommunications is not over yet, and is key for economic growth

Analysis of deregulation in a developing country----Pakistan shows that deregulation must be accompanied by strong institutional and legal constructions as well

Pakistan’s telecommunications structure will be open to competition with some parameters at the end of 2003

The deregulation has been accompanied by lower taxes & duties, judicial reform and judicial attention to ensuring that national and foreign companies have protections in the areas of copyright, contract law, trademark and patents, partnerships

The key to attracting foreign and national investment is to ensure that they feel secure

What is the promise of digital development?

IT is a tool for development, and developing countries that are not making services a priority sparks 2 questions:

  • Why should services and in particular IT-related services matter for developing countries, and

  • Why, on the contrary, is this area of negotiations attracting little attention?

In general, the rule that has applied to traditional trade applies to services; Countries that have embraced openness have tended to reap substantial benefits. By doing so in the multilateral trade context, they have ensured that their trade relations can take place in a stable and predicatable, rules-based environment with instruments for the settlement of disputes.

Service sector is already the fastest growing component of both trade and foreign direct investment

IT services play a critical role in developing and upgrading a country’s infrastructure

Thus, the promise is that IT and telecoms enable faster, cheaper more ubiquitous access to information, education, public services and markets around the world

Empowers low-cost creation and distribution of “content”

Improves the way people live, learn, work and communicate

Developing countries should be interested in opening up trade in services for at least 4 reasons:

  • Because they are well-positioned to become net exporters

  • Opening their markets would attract significant investment

  • The availability of world-class IT services would mean dramatic gains in efficiency and

  • It would make their IT skills marketable on a global scale.

When multi-nationals establish business in developing countries, they can bring technology transfer, create jobs and encourage local development

What prevents some multinationals from entering certain developing countries’ markets is often the fact they have not opened their market, the necessary supportive legal and IT/Telecoms infrastructures are not in place, and the country may not be fulfilling commitments under multi-lateral trade agreements

An example of a non-IT or telecoms company that requires the establishment of certain IT and telecoms structures before coming into a country underscored the opportunity that this kind of investment brings in terms of education, technology infrastructure building

The questions and discussion section included the following points:

  • The need for supportive electronic trade documents such as letters of credit, transport documents, and the work ICC Commissions are doing in this area in conjunction with the customs organizations

  • Uniform standards are needed to support B2B online trade, and ICC work with standards setting organizations to encourage and contribute to the establishment of these standards

  • Specific barriers to developing telecoms infrastructures in sub-saharan Africa were discussed, with the reason being that the telecoms monopolies in many developing countries make it hard for multi-nationals to establish and invest in those countries

  • The need for security and authentication from end to end of B2B online transactions was highlighted

  • ICC, as the voice of global business, urges the moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce to become permanent

Revista INTER-FORUM is affiliated with (ICCAP)

Any reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the authors written authorization  


May 6, 2002


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