More than 300 Civil Society Groups Call on Governments to Reject Digital Trade Talks in the World Trade Organization (WTO)

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  • 09 Apr 2019
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The Trade Justice Network joined over 300 civil society organizations – including global union federations, development advocates, consumer organizations, and environmental groups – from more than 90 countries in delivering a letter to WTO members. As some countries have launched preliminary talks on e-commerce trade, the civil society groups warn governments of serious dangers and urge them to instead focus on transforming global trade rules for shared prosperity for all.

The letter noted that “[w]hile the rhetoric surrounding “e-commerce” highlights the opportunities for developing country entrepreneurs, having binding rules on the still-emerging digital economy would severely constrain the ability of countries to develop their economies in the future. It would accelerate the global disadvantaging of workers and small enterprises in all countries vis-à-vis large corporations that characterizes the current global economy.”

The groups argued that binding rules as proposed in the WTO “would enable Big Tech to consolidate its exploitative business model, including gaining rights to access markets globally; extracting and controlling personal, social, and business data around the world; locking-in deregulation and evading future regulation; accessing an unlimited supply of labor stripped of its rights; expanding its power through monopolies; and evading the payment of taxes. The proposed rules thus represent a grave threat to development, human rights, labor, and shared prosperity around the world, and are the opposite of the policies needed to rein in the power of Big Tech.”

The letter was coordinated by the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network, members of which have been studying the proposed rules for the last several years.

Read the full text of the letter in English or French.