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Geneva, Switzerland – ISD’s Executive Director, Devi Ariyani, was invited as a panelist to the WTO Public Forum 2019 that took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 8 to 11 October. The main theme for this year’s Public Forum was “Trading Forward: Adapting to a Changing World”. ISD was invited to present the Indonesian private sector views on issues regarding: trade policies for e-commerce businesses and digital trade; and extension of the WTO moratorium on duties of electronic transmissions.

During the discussion on e-commerce and digital trade, we outlined how e-commerce business relies on the free flow of data – therefore any regulation concerning the flow of data can harm e-commerce and also the small businesses and consumers that depend on them. We also put forward the potentials of blockchain based technology as a solution for concerns about data ownership – this will reduce business disputes and breach of privacy.

On the second forum discussing the future of the WTO Moratorium, we outlined our views that duties on electronically transmitted product may hamper the structure of digital economy. ISD voiced the concerns from businesses due to the MoF Regulation no. 17/2018 that sets a tariff schedule for several digital products – including software and digital media. On the forum, ISD explained that this tariff may hamper the development of digital technology and its adoption in SMEs – therefore inhibiting SMEs to grow. With smaller fiscal benefits compared to the overall economic loss based on our preliminary calculations and other studies such as by OECD and ECIPE – duties on digital product is unnecessary and can create more administrative hassle for businesses.

In conclusion, it is crucial for regulations to be non-discriminatory, technologically neutral, and flexible to the rapid development of digital technology. Even regulations must be made ‘preemptive’ – in other words, it must accommodate a new technological trend even before it is widely adopted. This gives regulatory certainty for businesses in the first place, therefore allowing innovation and ensure the interoperability between different regimes. To have a ‘preemptive’ regulation, policymakers must actively look at technological progress in different parts of the world.