The Grupo de Trabajo de COMERCIO
ELECTRÓNICO [hereafter Working Group on Electronic Commerce] was created
in April 1998 to act in a non-negotiating capacity as a joint committee of
public and private sector experts and academics specializing in ELECTRONIC
COMMERCE. Its objective is to augment and expand the benefits of
ELECTRONIC COMMERCE, and to help determine how this field should be
treated in FTAA negotiations.
With this mandate in mind, our Group
began examining the aspects of electronic commerce deemed most important
in the context of the FTAA process.
Strengthening of Infrastructure
Strengthening of information
technology (IT) infrastructure comes down to providing access that permits
suitable private sector competition in telecommunications while
facilitating interconnection under reasonable conditions which gradually
bring down the costs associated with basic Internet access and use.
Another important aspect has to do
with reducing the cost for the purchase of the technology tools that are
essential to electronic commerce, for which reason we urge the government
to introduce the tariff reductions called for in the Information
Technology Agreement as soon as possible.
Technical standards are necessary to
ensure the necessary interoperability of networks at the world level. To
this end the government should support wherever possible the efforts of
independent entities to establish technical standards by CONSENSUS, and
thus avoid imposing local, national or regional standards that compromise
the universality of the elements which make ELECTRONIC COMMERCE possible.
Promoting Participation and
To increase participation it is
recommended that the government take the important step of itself becoming
a model user of ELECTRONIC COMMERCE by offering public services online,
for example. This will no doubt yield other benefits as well in terms of
savings, efficiency and productivity.
As a further step in this direction,
it is important that the government develop a joint effort aimed at
encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in
ELECTRONIC COMMERCE. To encourage SMEs, the government should conduct an
advertising campaign which targets that sector and explore methods of
adapting its trade promotion programs to introduce SMEs in international
markets via ELECTRONIC COMMERCE.
It is equally important to deal
responsibly with serious aspects such as intellectual property rights,
taxes and methods of payment. A multisectoral approach is therefore
recommended as a means of adapting these aspects for purposes of promoting
the growth of ELECTRONIC COMMERCE.
Building Confidence in the Market
Others topics of importance have to
do with the legal instruments that are essential for building confidence
in the market, instruments such as digital signatures and nonrepudiation
of electronic certification. It is the responsibility of the government to
promulgate the laws and regulations needed to protect the rights of
consumers and suppliers alike.
In this area it is important to
maintain the same framework of consumer protection rules, modifying these
as necessary to reflect the nature of the new medium and ensuring that
consumers using ELECTRONIC COMMERCE receive protection which is no less
than that enjoyed by those engaging in traditional transactions.
Finally, the government must study
the current legal system and rules governing jurisdiction to ensure that
these do not contain gaps or create barriers to ELECTRONIC COMMERCE. In
all cases they may take as models the laws that the WTO and other
organizations are developing to promote the adoption of ELECTRONIC
PROPOSAL AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A) Strengthening of IT
Promote the creation of local network access points
(local NAPs), i.e. local interconnection systems for transmission of
data between different Internet service providers (ISPs).
- In order to provide the necessary bandwidth for
guaranteeing access to basic telecommunications service, the government
must update its regulations to promote greater competition among private
sector providers of telecommunications services. Policies that promote
competition, facilitate interconnection under reasonable conditions and
permit private investment, will help to reduce the cost for basic access
and use of the Internet, as well as fostering development of
To facilitate widespread participation in
electronic commerce, the government must provide public access points to
the Internet, for example in schools, libraries, community centers and
public telephone offices.
To lower the cost of the essential devices required
for engaging in electronic commerce, the government is urged to apply
the tariff reductions specified in the Information Technology Agreement
(ITA) as soon as possible.
The government must avoid imposing local, national
or regional standards that hinder the universality of the Internet and
may constitute new barriers to trade, inasmuch as that universality is
the single most important characteristic allowing electronic commerce
over the Internet.
- In order to promote the interoperability of
telecommunication networks and services, the government must wherever
possible support the setting of technical standards by international
agencies and/or independent national entities acting by consensus.
(B) Promoting Participation
Governments as model users
Member countries of the FTAA must promote and make
use of electronic commerce in transactions between governments, and
between each government and the enterprises and individuals with which
it does business, so as to conduct transactions more quickly, at lower
cost and with broader coverage. For example, this may be done in areas
tendering of contracts for the purchase of goods
provision of public services
dissemination of public information
electronic payment of invoices and benefits
online filing of government applications,
particularly those relating to exports and imports
access to national intellectual property offices
creation of an electronic network linking all
government agencies and their personnel
Encourage participation by small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in electronic commerce
To encourage greater participation by SMEs in
international trade the government must explore methods of adapting its
trade promotion programs so that they are more effective in helping SMEs
to penetrate foreign markets via electronic commerce (e.g. by means of
virtual trade fairs and expansion of public/private credit insurance
policies to cover these new electronic transactions).
- In order to encourage SMEs to make use of the
Internet to open new markets, the government must conduct an advertising
campaign aimed at these enterprises, clearly demonstrating that
electronic commerce can help them penetrate new international markets
and showing them how the country’s infrastructure and ancillary services
can help them become part of the digital economy.
- To ensure that SMEs are able to make use of
electronic commerce, the government must cooperate with the country’s
trade associations and chambers of commerce in establishing Internet
terminals where SMEs can connect to networks, post information and
exchange ideas on lessons learned and best practices.
Protection of intellectual Property
- The government must take an active role and promote
cooperation with the efforts of the WTO and WIPO to develop and expand
the national and international consensus in issues concerning the
intellectual property rights that arise from electronic commerce. The
key issues in this area include effective protection for trademarks
online, matters involving Internet domain names, and effective copyright
Taxes and Electronic Payment
To maximize the benefits and promote the growth of
electronic commerce, the government must promote adoption of a legal
framework which provides broad access to effective payment systems that
protect the interests of the business community and consumers alike.
- The government must conduct a multisectoral
examination of the tax implications of this new form of trade, and seek
the adoption of technologies that facilitate electronic commerce.
The Law of Contracts
- The government must establish an appropriate
framework for electronic commerce in keeping with each country’s legal
system. The government of FTAA member countries must identify and
eliminate legal barriers that prevent the recognition of electronic
records and transactions, and adopt new laws that permit their
recognition, taking particular account of the applicable provisions of
the Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade
(C) Building Confidence in the
Security and reliability
The government must create an environment that
promotes the development by private sector enterprises of technological
solutions for improving network security.
- The government must ensure that its regulations
governing encryption, particularly the restrictions or certification
requirements for the importation or use of encryption, do not represent
an unfair barrier to encryption products manufactured abroad.
Signatures and Nonrepudiation
The government must take steps to discover and
revoke legal obstacles to the recognition of nonrepudiation in
electronic transactions, including adoption of the enabling provisions
of the Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade
- To foster development of electronic commerce, the
government must promote appropriate research on legal recognition of
electronic signatures following principles designed to maintain
The government must consider the benefits of
permitting the parties engaging in a transaction to choose their method
of authentication, according to the requirements of their legal system.
Governments of FTAA member countries must
acknowledge the importance of finding flexible and interoperable
technological solutions to issues concerning authentication and
certification, to be carried out by the private sector.
In the case of electronic transactions between
companies, the parties must be allowed to designate the jurisdiction and
method of their choice for purposes of settling any disputes that may
Any proposal for protection of the right to privacy
must be national in scope, and at the same time must encourage
self-regulation based on internationally accepted principles relating to
fair access to information practices. The OECD’s Privacy Guidelines, for
example, could serve as a valuable reference in this area.
- The government must encourage cooperation with
other member countries and enterprises within the FTAA in promoting
adequate levels of protection for privacy.
The private sector should be encouraged to develop
technological solutions, codes of conduct and other measures to ensure
that the privacy of persons is duly protected, in accordance with legal
The government, together with the private sector,
must promote education for companies and consumers on the risks and
advantages of conducting electronic transactions on the Internet.
- The government must continue to enforce the current
consumer protection laws, adapting these where necessary to reflect the
new medium so that online consumers receive an effective level of
protection which is no less than that afforded consumer in traditional
The government, business organizations and consumer
groups must work together to draw up consumer protection principles and
measures, including preparation of online and easy-to-use mechanisms for
resolving consumer complaints.
Electronic commerce is subject to the country’s
current legislation governing selection of the applicable laws and
jurisdiction in the event of disputes. The government must study the
system of laws and jurisdictions applied by other nations in this area,
in order to develop a better understanding of how these issues are
resolved in the other member countries of the FTAA.
Comision ALCA/PERU Pag. 5