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Joint Statement Initiatives

  1. In addition to the multilateral process, increased focus on plurilateral negotiations among WTO members on specific sectors under various Joint Statement Initiatives (JSI) format continues.

  2. Members worked to create new grounds on a variety of topics relating to electronic commerce, investment facilitation for development, domestic service regulation, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and trade and environment.

  3. With a focus on the various economic development levels and the perspectives of developing and least developed nations, including their level of aspiration and implementation issues, open and inclusive negotiations are still ongoing under these JSIs.

  4. Malaysia actively participates in three of the five JSIs, namely MSMEs, investment facilitation for development, and electronic commerce.

JSI on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

  1. The MSME package of recommendations and declarations, adopted in December 2020, was sponsored by 97 WTO members including Malaysia. The Group endorsed a package of six recommendations and declarations aimed at addressing challenges smaller businesses face when they trade internationally, which includes:

    • a call for WTO members to provide information on MSME policies during their Trade Policy Reviews to enhance transparency and serve as a source of good practice
    • a call for WTO members to support the Global Trade Helpdesk, an online platform intended to bring trade and business information for companies, especially MSMEs, into a single area
    • support for full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and a recommendation for WTO members to share good practices related to MSMEs
    • a call for promoting the inclusion of MSMEs in the development of trade regulations to minimize regulatory burden
    • support for the implementation of the 2019 Decision on the WTO Integrated Database to permit access for MSMEs to information on tariffs and other import taxes
    • a call for exchanges of good practices to help identify measures that can facilitate MSMEs' access to finance and cross-border payments.
  2. Earlier, a database of MSME-related information in Regional Trade Agreements was launched in 2019.

  3. As is the case for all the JSIs, participation in the MSME Informal Working Group is open to all WTO members.

JSI on Electronic Commerce

  1. Pursuant to the directive of the 11th Ministerial Conference for members to develop the rules around trade and services under e-Commerce, negotiations were formally initiated in January 2019 with the involvement of 76 Members, including Malaysia.

  2. Since then, its membership has grown to 86 participants, representing all significant geographic regions and developmental stages, accounting for more than 90% of the world commerce. The JSI is led by Australia, Japan, and Singapore as the Co-Conveners.

  3. The most recent revised consolidated negotiating text was made available by the Co-Conveners in December 2022, and textual discussions on the rules that govern e-Commerce are still proceeding in 2023. To date, the JSI has achieved six (6) clean articles on: 

    1. Unsolicited Commercial Electronic Messages (SPAM);
    2. Electronic Signatures and Authentication;
    3. Electronic Contracts;
    4. Transparency;
    5. Open Government Data; and
    6. Online Consumer Protection
  4. The Co-conveners intend to advance to some of the most difficult elements, such as data flow, data localization, and legal architecture, during the ongoing negotiations in 2023.

JSI on Investment Facilitation for Development

  1. JSI on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) was officiated at the 11th Ministerial Conference by 70 WTO Members including Malaysia It calls for organised discussions to create a multilateral framework for investment facilitation. More than 110 WTO Members are now taking part in the negotiations, with the aim for a definitive conclusion by MC13 in 2024.

  2. Currently, the negotiations are on-going based on the most recent negotiating text that was distributed on 16 December 2022. The draft text is a compilation of all the ‘Easter Text’ revisions that have been made since the initial draft was distributed to JSI members. The key goals of the discussions planned for the first half of 2023 include reviewing the negotiating text and clearing the remaining brackets, finalising self-assessment process for the obligations and stepping up outreach efforts.

JSI on Services Domestic Regulation

  1. In order to advance the domestic regulatory discussions in tandem with the work of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation mandated by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), 59 WTO Members signed a JSI on Services Domestic Regulation (SDR) at the 11th Ministerial Conference.

  2. Negotiations were concluded on 2 December 2021 with the finalisation of the Reference Paper on SDR, which sets out new disciplines relating to domestic regulation for services that attempt to enhance business climate, reduce trade costs, and reduce red tape to allow global services trade flow smoothly.

  3. The JSI now has 67 members, including three of the ASEAN Member States, i.e., the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. Although Malaysia is not part of the JSI, Malaysia is currently undertaking domestic consultations with the relevant stakeholders to explore the prospect of Malaysia joining the JSI.

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Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry
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