India’s Commerce and Industry minister, Piyush Goyal, pressed on the issue of free flow of data among countries for trade implying that free trade does not justify data free flow.

He was speaking at the two-day G20 Ministerial on Trade and Digital Economy. These bilateral meetings included ministers from the following nations: the US, UK, China, France, Singapore, Korea, Spain, Canada, EU, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Chile and Australia. This meet was held on 8th and 9th June in in Tsukuba, Japan.

Goyal said that the data generated by a country, then be it public or personal data, should be used for the welfare of masses and the country has every right to do so. He expressed that Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) should be reconsidered for issue of security and privacy.

The DFFT is an agenda proposed at the G20 met which seeks to eliminate restrictions on the exchange of information between nations. This information may include personal or public records and data which, according to this agenda, should be permitted to be stored on the servers of other countries. Though this program is beneficial for the well-being of global e-commerce, there is a risk of data exposure to the private data which belongs to a certain country.

Goyal said that developing nations like India should be provided with sufficient time to understand and formulate their own regulations and legal framework before any agreement with the agendas of the joint initiative on e-commerce. 77 member which are a part of this joint initiative on e-commerce have begun discussions regarding the global rules on e-commerce while developing nations like India are opposing this.

In a ministerial statement made by the G20, they addressed the importance of the joint initiative on e-commerce while mentioning the fact that the free flow of data will bring certain challenges too.

Goyal also addressed the WTO (World Trade Organization) reforms saying that the process should begin with the revival of the dispute settlement mechanism which can be done by allowing re-nomination of Appellate Body members.

Goyal said that the initiatives formed by the G20 are outside the working conditions of WTO and stressed that it has set an unhealthy rule making trend in the WTO. Also, he called for de-escalating trade tensions and reviving confidence in WTO based trade system.

He also laid emphasis on the fact that until the boundaries of e-commerce are thoroughly investigated, the G20 should remain consistent with the WTO rules.

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