e-WTP vs WTO

  • William Laraque, Managing Director at US-International Trade Services

  • 01.04.2016 07:30 am
  • e-commerce

n the Internet Age when cross-border e-commerce is changing the landscape of world trade and economy, the international community has a historic mission to update global trade rules so that the trade regime can benefit more.

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, on Wednesday proposed to build a fresh global e-commerce platform which could break down existing trade barriers and enable small traders to buy and sell across borders.

Addressing the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan Province, Ma said the Electronic World Trade Platform, or e-WTP, will significantly benefit small and medium enterprises, young people and developing countries, which had been largely left out of the world’s free trade regime in the past.

The vision of e-WTP evoked strong enthusiasm among the participants as it reflects the shortcomings of the existing trade regime represented by the World Trade Organization, under which large corporations and multinationals are in comfortable positions to reap huge benefits of globalization while small and medium enterprises and the young in developing countries are left with fewer opportunities.

Just as Long Yongtu, former vice minister for trade and a top trade negotiator, has noted that both the driving force and the vehicle of globalization have been undergoing profound changes since the advent of the Internet Age.

As cross-border e-commerce and e-businesses have become a full-blown economic powerhouse, new Internet-based technologies are rapidly replacing multinational giants as the new driving force of globalization.

As a result, it is imperative for countries worldwide to work together to improve the existing global trade rules to keep them in pace with the needs of the “Internet Age” as many small and medium enterprises and young people have already grown into qualified players in global economic competitions.

“The power of Internet” has been fast growing and accumulating in recent years when information technology companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are making a big imprint on various aspects of almost everyone’s life in China.

The Internet spirit of “openness, equality, cooperation and sharing,” which the vision of e-WTP stems from, has already become a consensus in the country’s business society.

Actually, the establishment of a fair and equitable new international economic order featuring cooperation and win-win results, which China has always advocated, echoes the spirit of the Internet.

Opposing any protectionism, China upholds the principle of openness, equal treatment, mutual benefit and win-win results in almost all its development initiatives, including the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, BRIC Bank and the Belt and Road initiative. This is why such initiatives are welcomed by many other countries.

Instead of being used by some as a “big stick” to bully the weak, or to practice the beggar-thy-neighbor policies, the global trade regime needs to evolve with the times and circumstances.

More importantly, it should also reflect the changing dynamics of international economic forces so as to provide more convenience, efficiency and opportunities for small and medium enterprises and developing countries.

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