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Cross-border E-commerce has surged with the recent exponential technological advances. China, with its comprehensive domestic E-commerce infrastructure as well as its emerging middle class, has become the world’s largest economy for E-commerce. China’s E-commerce strategy is not confined domestically. Rahter, it has been part of China’s grand strategy the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or more precisely a virtue version of BRI – the Digital Silk Road Initiative. In 2018, China’s cross-border E-commerce (including imports and exports) reached 1.35 trillion (with 50% annual increase). Imports in 2018 amounted to 78.6 billion (with 40% annual increase).
This work-in-progress paper explores the China-led agenda on the global governance of E-commerce. Although China was a co-sponsor to the WTO E-commerce negotiations, China also tabled a communication to reform the WTO system in April 2019, clarifying its own position on E-commerce independently. In addition, China also promotes its E-commerce agenda at other fora. China led the G20 Declaration on E-commerce and proposed the eWTP, an electronic world trade platform, to connect the SMEs around the world. China also incorporated its e-commerce agenda at the regional level by incorporating e-commerce into its FTAs/RTAs, signing independent bilateral MOUs on E-commerce, as well as facilitating the internationalisation of the Chinese Yuan.
Taking into account the developments mentioned above, one can observe that a corporate-led initiative by Alibaba is progressing in parallel with the state-led agenda. The synergy of the two agendas will shed light on the role of China in global governance.