[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]



-------------------------------- CUT --------------------------------

3 February 1999

USIS Washington File

03 February 1999 


(E-Commerce seen as 21st century economic engine) (1720)

Washington -- The United States and United Kingdom regard electronic
commerce as a vital engine of economic growth in the 21st century with
powers to enhance productivity, streamline distribution, expand trade
and revamp corporate structures, according to a joint statement.

Vice President Al Gore and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said
January 30 in London that electronic commerce will raise the standards
of living in the United States and United Kingdom as well as the rest
of the world by creating higher paying jobs and new opportunities. A
text of the U.S.-U.K. joint statement was made available in

Electronic commerce -- known less formally as e-commerce -- has grown
in recent years as businesses and industries have learned how to
market goods and services through online catalogs, advertising, and
direct marketing worldwide on the Internet. As a consequence of the
growth of e-commerce, a host of issues ranging from taxation to
privacy have emerged that governments have had to begin addressing.

Following is the text of the joint U.S.-U.K. statement:

(begin text)


Electronic commerce will be an engine of economic growth in the
Twenty-first Century, with the potential to invigorate economies by
enhancing productivity, streamlining distribution, facilitating trade
and revamping corporate structures. The United Kingdom and the United
States have already taken steps domestically to realize the full
potential of electronic commerce.

Electronic commerce will enhance the standard of living of citizens in
the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of the
globe, by creating new, high-paying jobs and opportunities. Small and
medium-sized enterprises, in particular, will benefit from new
opportunities to sell their products to a worldwide market.

The Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom recognize
the importance of working together, in the context of the EU-U.S.
Joint Statement of 1997 to promote global electronic commerce and of
the G7/G8 Denver Summit Communique. We support and endorse the
following fundamental principles and policies, which should guide the
development of electronic commerce.

I. General Principles

The private sector should lead in the development of electronic
commerce and in establishing business practices.

Governments should ensure that business enjoys a clear, consistent and
predictable legal environment to enable it to do so, while avoiding
unnecessary regulations or restrictions on electronic commerce.

Governments should encourage the private sector to meet public
interest goals through codes of conduct, model contracts, guidelines,
and enforcement mechanisms developed by the private sector.

Government actions, when needed, should be transparent, minimal,
non-discriminatory, and predictable to the private sector.

Cooperation among all countries, from all regions of the world and all
levels of development, will assist in the construction of a seamless
environment for electronic commerce.

II. Policy Issues


Both governments agree on the strong desirability of continuing the
current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic


Any taxation of electronic commerce should be clear, consistent,
neutral and
non-discriminatory. We will actively participate within the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and work
toward achieving the application of the framework principles for the
taxation of electronic commerce agreed by member countries at the
Ministerial conference at Ottawa in October 1998. Close cooperation
and mutual assistance between the United Kingdom and the United States
tax authorities is necessary to ensure effective tax administration
and to prevent tax evasion and avoidance.

Electronic Authentication / Electronic Signatures

Governments should work towards a global approach that supports,
domestically and internationally, the recognition and enforcement of
electronic transactions and electronic authentication methods
(including electronic signatures). At an international level this
should include working together to promote confidence in the legal
enforceability of cross-border transactions and to support a variety
of authentication technologies and implementation models. This
approach should:

a. Remove paper-based obstacles to electronic transactions by adopting
relevant provisions from the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic

b. Permit transacting parties to select appropriate mechanisms which
meet their needs for authentication in conducting electronic commerce,
including particular authentication technologies, contractual
arrangements and other means of validating electronic transactions,
and to use judicial and other means of dispute resolution to prove the
validity of those transactions;

c. Permit parties to a transaction to have the opportunity to prove in
court that their authentication technique and transaction are valid;

d. Take a non-discriminatory approach to electronic signatures and
authentication methods from other countries.


There must be effective means of protecting the privacy of
individuals' personal information. It is vital that these do not
inhibit the development of electronic commerce or impede the free flow
of information. Effective privacy protection can be achieved by
private sector development, implementation and enforcement of privacy
policies, including preparing guidelines and developing verification
and recourse methodologies; the application of existing legal
frameworks to the online environment, or by a combination of both, as
appropriate. The OECD Privacy Guidelines provide an appropriate basis
for policy development.


-------------------------------- CUT --------------------------------