Tariffs on digital trade reaching a possible end?Top Stories

December 07, 2019 12:40
Tariffs on digital trade reaching a possible end?

(Image source from: aljazeera.com)

If India and South Africa makes good on threats,according to trade officials and documents, potentially forcing people to pay duties on software and movie downloads, a global moratorium on imposing tariffs on digital trade could end next week.

An internal WTO document saying that rising digitalization compelled “a rethink of the role of the temporary moratorium” was circulated by India and South Africa last year.

South Africa’s WTO Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter said in an email response that it was “still consulting on this important decision” when asked about its position.

A proposal that seeks to extend the ban when it expires at year end was backed by 21 countries including China and Canada. “A large part of the WTO has signaled its support for Moratorium”, said deal-broker Switzerland.

John Denton, the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Secretary said, “at the moment there are a number of countries that feel confident they can stand aside from global consensus.” He also asked, “how do you put a tariff on a byte? How would ou capture millions of data flows from multiple sources flowing across countries’ borders every minute of the day?” For which the possible answers are emerging.

Putting an end to the moratorium does not mean that the tariffs will immediately follow is that which Mlumbi-Peter stressed on. After December 10, more likely a new culture of permissiveness is seen following the paralysis that are expected of the top ruling body of WTO.

By Shrithika Kushangi

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