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Joint Initiatives and Informal Working Groups

Electronic Commerce

On the margins of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, 71 WTO members, including Ukraine, issued a Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce with the aim to initiate exploratory work together towards future WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce.

On 25 January 2019, 76 WTO members issued a second Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce, confirming the intention to commence WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce. Participation in this Joint Initiative is open to all WTO members.

Currently the participants of the Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce are 86 WTO members, who are actively involved in the constructive discussions within the framework of the plenary, focus group and small group meetings as well as written exchange on the trade-related aspects of e-commerce based on the text proposals submitted by members, including Ukraine.

Within 2020 – 2022, the efforts of the JSI participants resulted in the clean texts on the following issues:

  • electronic authentication and electronic signatures;
  • paperless trading;
  • open government data;
  • open internet access;
  • e-contracts;
  • online consumer protection;
  • unsolicited commercial electronic messages (spam);
  • transparency.

and updated streamlined texts on the following issues:

  • customs duties on electronic transmissions;
  • cybersecurity;
  • privacy;
  • electronic transactions frameworks;
  • e-invoicing;
  • telecommunications;
  • source codes.

In 2021 Ukraine, the EU, the United Kingdom and Norway as co-sponsors circulated the joint text proposal for the disciplines relating to Telecommunications Services (document dated 04.14.2021 INF/ECOM/64).

In light of russian military invasion (since February 2022) Ukraine has raised the issue of negative impact of the ongoing military aggression, launched by russia, inter alia, on e-commerce, cybersecurity, trade in services at the plenary meetings and blocked the participation of russia in small group meetings of the JSI on e-commerce.

In a statement issued during the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (12-17 June 2022), the JSI co-conveners underlined the importance of developing global rules on e-commerce and, together with Switzerland, launched the E-commerce Capacity Building Framework to strengthen digital inclusion and to help developing and least developed countries harness the opportunities of digital trade.

Detailed information on electronic commerce

Services Domestic Regulation

In the framework of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, 59 WTO members, including Ukraine, issued a Joint Statement on Services Domestic Regulation. The signatories reaffirmed their commitment to move negotiations on domestic regulation forward and to intensify work towards concluding the negotiations of disciplines in advance of the next Ministerial Conference. The objective is to develop any necessary disciplines to ensure that domestic regulation measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services.

On 23 May 2019, 59 WTO members issued a second Joint Statement on Services Domestic Regulation in order to continue work on outstanding issues, with a view to incorporating the outcome in their respective schedules of specific commitments by the 12th Ministerial Conference. Participation in this Joint Initiative is open to all WTO members.

In 2020 - 2021, the work of the participants was focused on finalizing the consolidated text on the services domestic regulation disciplines within the WTO and continuing outreach activities to engage new members in participation within the Joint Initiative.

On 2 December 2021, 67 WTO members, including Ukraine, adopted a Declaration announcing the successful conclusion of negotiations on services domestic regulation aimed at increasing transparency, predictability and efficiency of authorization procedures for service providers hoping to do business in foreign markets.

In 2022, the members, including Ukraine, are working on the completion of required domestic procedures in order to implement the Declaration on the conclusion of negotiations on services domestic regulation and the relevant disciplines.

Detailed information on domestic regulation

Investment Facilitation for Development

In today's integrated global economy, the expansion of investment flows, which are indispensable for development, depends on making investment frameworks more transparent, predictable and efficient. In recognition of the dynamic links between trade, investment and development, 70 WTO members, including both developed and developing countries, agreed at the 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017 to pursue structured discussions with the aim of developing a multilateral framework for facilitating foreign direct investment (Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development).

On 5 November 2019, 98 WTO members issued a second Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development. The signatories expressed support for the 2017 joint ministerial statement, and committed to intensify work to further develop the framework for facilitating foreign direct investment and work towards a concrete outcome on investment facilitation for development at the 12th Ministerial Conference. They also agreed to continue their outreach efforts towards WTO members, especially developing and least-developed members, to ensure that the framework helps to address their investment facilitation priorities and needs. Participation in this Joint Initiative is open to all WTO members.

In September 2020, the participants of the Joint Initiative "Investment Facilitation for Development" entered into negotiating mode. They started working on the text of the agreement directly.

On 30 November 2021 a meeting was held at the level of heads of delegation. During this dedicated meeting, the WTO members agreed to complete the work on the text by the end of 2022. This intention was reflected in a Joint Statement (WT/L/1130) that was circulated on 10 December 2021.

Currently members discuss issues of transparency of investment measures, simplification of procedures for foreign direct investors, objectives of investment promotion agencies, domestic regulatory coherence, international cooperation on investment facilitation.

The Joint initiative does not address market access, investment protection rules and investor-state dispute settlement.

Detailed information on trade and investment

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)

Today, 95% of companies across the globe are MSMEs, accounting for 60% of the world's total employment. However, MSMEs face a number of obstacles when seeking to participate in international trade. To address these obstacles, 88 WTO members signed a Joint Statement at the WTO's Ministerial Conference in December 2017 declaring their intention to create an Informal Working Group on MSMEs to explore ways in which WTO members could better support MSMEs' participation in global trade. Participation in this Joint Initiative is open to all WTO members.

The informal working group is focused on developing recommendations for WTO members on assisting MSMEs in access to information, trade facilitation, access to financial solutions in trade, regulatory policy, technical assistance and capacity building.

In light of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, launched by russia, Members of the Informal Working Group decided not to issue the Declaration on Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12, 12-17 June 2022), replacing it with Coordinator’s Report.

The Report contains information on:

  1. results of the Informal Working Group’s work for the last 4 years;
  2. plans for the future work;
  3. provided support to MSMEs' efforts to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Informal Working Group is going to continue to promote open trade as well as resilient and sustainable value chains, which are essential to MSMEs’ normal functioning, and also to seek to deliver meaningful outcomes at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13).

Detailed information on small business and trade  

Women's economic empowerment

In December 2017, in the margins of the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference, 118 WTO members and observers, including Ukraine, endorsed the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment.

The co-sponsors of the Buenos Aires Declaration agreed to collaborate on making trade and development policies more gender-responsive by:

  • sharing experiences relating to policies and programmes aimed at encouraging women's participation in trade;
  • sharing best practices for conducting gender-based analysis of trade policies and for monitoring their effects;
  • sharing ways of collecting gender data and analysing gender-focused statistics related to trade;
  • working together in the WTO to remove barriers for women's economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade;
  • ensuring that Aid for Trade supports tools and know-how for analysing, designing and implementing more gender-responsive trade policies.

To advance the implementation of these objectives, in 2020 an informal, open and transparent working group on trade and gender was established at the WTO, the work of which is based on four pillars:

  • reviewing analytical work undertaken;
  • experience sharing;
  • considering the concept and scope for a “gender lens”;
  • contributing to the Aid for Trade work programme.

Meetings on the four pillars were completed in July 2021. Since then, members have focused on developing an MC12 outcome document on trade and gender. However due to the full-scale war launched by russia against Ukraine, the three co-chairs of the Informal Working Group, instead of an comprehensive outcome document on trade and gender, issued at MC12 a statement highlighting the achievements of WTO members’ joint work and reaffirming their commitment to advancing gender equality in trade.

Detailed information on women and trade

Ministry of Economy of Ukraine 01008, Ukraine, Kiyv city,
Grushevsky str., 12/2