INTA Participates in Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference

Published: February 15, 2018

On February 9‒10, INTA staff participated in the “First Global Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference,” which was held in Beijing and organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the General Administration of China Customs.

Secretary General of the WCO, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, noted that the two-day conference will lead to the formation of a Beijing declaration to summarize and identify key issues in cross-border e-commerce for future work.

Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma delivered a keynote speech. Picking up on the global discussion, and fresh from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he noted that the world’s recent economic problems are not a consequence of globalization, but rather a result of globalization not being fully realized. Mr. Ma sees cross-border e-commerce as a way to generate more economic development in the world-in the future it will not be a G20 or B20, but a G200 and B200 world, he said. The vision he shared is a world where “Made in China, or Made in America” become “Made in the Internet”-and where “B to C” is put on its head, and becomes “C to B.”

Mr. Ma also praised new Alibaba tools, including the e-World Trade Platform. He believes these tools will lower trade barriers and provide more equitable access to global markets for small and medium enterprises and young people around the world. The tool recently had success in Malaysia after being rolled out last year.

China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang noted in his keynote speech that President Xi Jinping’s vision of global trade across the “Belt and Road” countries includes, and indeed will rely, on cross-border e-commerce.

International Organizations Weigh In

Director General of the United Postal Union, Bishar Hussein, shared a conversation with Mr. Ma earlier in the day that customers want their packages delivered anywhere in the world within 72 hours. However, customs and border control creates delays. Mr. Hussein asked that each country form a customs and postal committee to help coordinate these cross-border issues.

Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Dr. Liu Fang, noted the new leaps being made by drones to make deliveries. She emphasized the importance of the aviation industry in speeding up trade.

Deputy Director of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Yi Xiaozhun noted that e-commerce is a means for more trade inclusivity. The WTO, he noted, is a natural forum to discuss e-commerce issues, as it is basically international trade in a different rubric. The organization is working on the trade-related aspects of e-commerce. He said that holding the conference in Beijing was appropriate since 40 percent of all e-commerce is conducted in China. China is also a major leader in electronic payment systems.

Mr. Yi further remarked that 4 billion people in the developing world remain offline. He said that infrastructure projects such as One Belt One Road will assist these populations to get online and participate in this dynamic area of trade.

What INTA Is Doing

Although a few sessions focused on security issues at the conference, which includes the trade in counterfeit goods, anticounterfeiting needs to be prioritized more than it is presently. Many organizations are keen to develop and grow cross-border e-commerce and reduce the formalities and protections provided by customs agencies. A vision for digital free trade zones (FTZs), while innovative, also presents a new set of issues for brand owners that continue to face problems with lax intellectual property (IP) protection in traditional FTZs.

Cross-border e-commerce will grow, particularly in developing countries. China’s One Belt One Road initiative will create the infrastructure to realize this trend. However, IP rights protection needs to be a focus of capacity building for government and private industry pushing for greater e-commerce trade in developing countries, particularly in countries where institutional protections for IP rights may be weak or developing.

INTA has been working with the Chinese government to prioritize trademark protection in Belt and Road countries, having hosted several roundtables on the subject since the initiative was founded by China’s President Xi in 2013.

A priority for INTA in 2018 in China and Asia-Pacific will be improving trademark protection and anticounterfeiting in e-commerce. Following successful policy dialogues in Singapore and Indonesia, INTA will continue its series of discussions with local e-commerce platforms.

INTA’s China Representative Office based in Shanghai represents the Association’s 235 members in China. Working in collaboration with staff at INTA’s headquarters in New York City, the China Representative Office leads the Association’s policy, membership, marketing, and communications initiatives in these jurisdictions. To learn more about INTA’s activities in China, please contact INTA Chief Asia-Pacific Representative Officer Seth Hays at [email protected].

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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