Pakistan to skip WTO e-commerce meet— taking another step away from the West


  • Pakistan has decided not to take part in discussions on a global e-commerce policy at the World Trade Organisation.
  • Since January 25th, around 76 countries, including the US and China have been embroiled in negotiations to develop a framework for the regulation of the e-commerce industry.
  • Pakistan’s decision to not participate in the talks is confusing. Given that it is expected to record over $1 billion worth of e-commerce sales next year, it has a vested interest in adding inputs to the global framework.

In a move that could isolate it even further in the international community, Pakistan has decided not to take part in discussions on a global e-commerce policy at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), sources told Dawn, a local daily.

Since January 25th, around 76 countries, including the US and China have been embroiled in negotiations to develop a framework for the regulation of the e-commerce industry. These countries, which account for over 90% of global e-commerce transactions, are opting for a multilateral regulatory system given the fact that e-commerce transcends physical borders.

Pakistan’s decision to not participate in the talks is confusing. Given that it is expected to record over $1 billion worth of e-commerce sales next year, it has a vested interest in adding inputs to the global framework.

The move appears all the more ill-advised given that the government has taken so long on formulating its own national e-commerce policy. The current laws in Pakistan are reportedly insufficient when it comes to enforcing consumer protection rights, data security and dispute resolution.

As Pakistan continues to raise the ire of Western countries, it will likely move closer into China’s embrace.

China has been taking a keen interest in Pakistan’s e-commerce sector. In May last year, Alibaba, an e-commerce giant, closed the acquisition of Daraz, the country’s leading online marketplace, as part of a plan to expand into Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistan decided against approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package to fix its external financing shortfall, opting instead for help from China and its Arab allies. In fact, just a few days ago, China approved a $2.5 billion loan to Pakistan to boost its forex reserves.


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