The amount of trade conducted electronically has grown exponentially and electronic commerce has transformed many industry sectors and the way business is done.
The Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) promotes the development and use of electronic commerce by creating legal, regulatory and policy environments in the APEC region that are predictable, transparent and consistent. It performs a coordinating role for APEC e-commerce activities, based on the principles set out in the 1998 APEC Blueprint for Action on Electronic Commerce.
The ECSG also explores how economies may best develop legal, regulatory and policy environments that are predictable, transparent and optimised to enable economies across all levels of development to utilise Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to drive economic growth and social development.
The ECSG recognises the importance of public-private collaboration in developing an environment conducive to e-commerce and encourages the active participation and contribution of the private sector to its meetings and activities. Reports presented by guest organisations to the group, including the Global Business Dialogue on e-Society, the International Chamber of Commerce, the Pan Asian E-Commerce Alliance, the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Internet Society are a welcome contribution to the ECSG.
Originally established in 1999 as an APEC Senior Official's Special Task Force, the ECSG was aligned to the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) in 2007. This alignment enhances the coordinating capacity of the ECSG by ensuring a stronger focus on trade and investment issues.
- Current Activities
The 27th ECSG Meeting was held on 30 January–2 February 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS)
The first meeting of the APEC/EU Working Team was held. The creation of this working group to study the interoperability of the APEC and EU data privacy regimes was endorsed by APEC in 2012 in Kazan, Russia. To facilitate discussions at the meeting, the Article 29 Working Party (Article 29 refers to the Binding Corporate Rule of the EU Data Protection Directive) prepared the document “Referential for the Structure of EU Binding Corporate Rules (BCR) and APEC Cross-border Privacy Rules (CBPR).” The Working Team has made some progress on a large part of the document with a common referential that describes the main elements which are common to BCR and CBPR, and additional blocks which present their main differences. The Working Team members agreed to continue the discussion intersessionally to finalize the document.
The ECSG also discussed documents such as the CBPR Glossary and Intake Document for Personal Information Processors.
The ECSG (DPS) decided to undertake a Stocktake of the APEC Privacy Framework. A working group will be created to determine elements and scope of the stocktake.
A Workshop on APEC Privacy Enforcement will be held on 17-18 July 2013 in Auckland, New Zealand. This will mark the third anniversary of the commencement of the Cross Border Enforcement Agreement (CPEA) and will address privacy enforcement topics both to newly established and existing privacy enforcement authorities.
Paperless Trading Subgroup (PTS)
The current progress on the Electronic Certificate of Origin (ECO) project was reported. The project began in May 2010 and continues to be implemented by Chinese Taipei and Korea. The ECSG noted the lessons required to move forward with the implementation of ECO, which were identified at the APEC-funded workshop on the “Study on the Readiness of ECO Implementation in Cross-border Trade in APEC Region” held in July 2012 in Beijing, China.
The ECSG decided to promote strong collaboration with The Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) to implement the ECO project. The PTS Chair presented the project at the SCCP meeting. Further collaboration between the two groups has been agreed.
To complement the work of PTS on ECO and to implement part of the roadmap for trade facilitation, Korea has proposed a project “Enhancing Reliable Supply Chains by e-B/L Exchange in APEC Region.”
The 26th ECSG Meeting was held on 22-27 May 2012 in Kazan, the Russian Federation.
The document Protocols of the APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) Joint Panel Oversight (JOP) Panel was endorsed by the ECSG during the plenary meeting. This document completes the CBPR system and allows a rollout/full implementation of the CBPR this year. The ECSG also discussed under the Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS) documents such as the CBPR glossary, and issues such as the comparability and potential interoperability between EU’s BCR (Binding Corporate Rules) and CBPR systems.
As part of the Paperless Trading Subgroup (PTS) activities, a workshop was organized by Russia on 22 May 2012, “Capacity Building of Different Aspects in E-commerce of Supply Chain Connectivity Implementation,” which was attended by several experts from economies, along with representatives from the private sector, academia, and other international organizations.
Another workshop will be held in Beijing in July, to be organized by China, on the “Study on the Readiness of ECO Implementation in Cross-Border Trade in APEC Region."
The ECSG has guided numerous capacity building projects that promote the development and use of electronic commerce and ICTs within the APEC region including:
APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder
The APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder was established by Ministers in 2007 to achieve accountable cross-border flow of personal information within the APEC region. This goal is to be achieved by developing and implementing a Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system, consistent with the APEC Privacy Framework which was endorsed by APEC Ministers in 2004.
The CBPR system requires organizations to develop their own internal business rules on cross-border privacy procedures, which must be assessed as compliant with the minimum requirements of the APEC system by an independent public or private sector body, called an Accountability Agent. The ECSG has been working toward the development of the APEC CBPR system, which will help build consumer, business and regulator trust in the electronic cross-border flow of personal information.
On 26 July 2012 the United States was confirmed as having met the conditions for member economy participation in the CBPR System. This followed the Joint Oversight Panel (JOP) releasing a findings report that unanimously determined that the United States had met the conditions set out in the APEC CBPR Charter. The United States had provided a Notice of Intent to participate in the CBPR System, which included annexes outlining relevant domestic laws and regulations and an APEC CBPR System Program Requirements Enforcement Map.
Progress on the implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework includes the application of Information Privacy Individual Action Plans by 14 economies, and the creation of a study group within the Data Privacy Sub-Group (DPS) to analyze and identify best practices and the role of trust-marks in promoting the cross-border flow of information.
A notable progress in this area is the establishment of an APEC Cross-Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA) in July 2010. This multilateral arrangement provides the first mechanism in the APEC region for Privacy Enforcement Authorities to share information and provide assistance for cross-border data privacy enforcement. The CPEA signifies the ongoing commitment within APEC to increase the protection of cross-border flows of personal information and is a significant step in the effective implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework.
A series of seminars have been held to provide technical assistance to developing economies and to address issues related to the development of CBPR system such as trust marks, regulatory models, accountability, privacy, governance and operational issues, and how the system benefits different stakeholders.
APEC Ministers endorsed the principal documents of the APEC Privacy Pathfinder in November 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii. APEC Leaders also committed to implement the CBPR System “to reduce barriers to information flows, enhance consumer privacy, and promote interoperability across regional data privacy regimes.”
The ECSG's Paperless Trading Subgroup develops projects on the use of paperless trading in commercial processes involving business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) transactions and promotes the use of electronic documents and internet technologies in international trade.
These projects aim to use "e-solutions" or electronic procedures and processes in cross-border trade to save time and costs for firms and government agencies seeking regulatory compliance information from traders. Areas covered by these projects include: electronic certificates of origin (ECO), electronic invoicing, business requirements for data harmonisation and single window, best practices in paperless trading, archiving of e-documents and e-trade financing. Among those projects, the ECO project has been implemented in live transactions between member economies beyond its pilot stage, saving substantial cost and time and thus realizing the benefits of trade facilitation.
Work is underway to implement APEC's Strategies and Actions Toward a Cross-Border Paperless Trading Environment to enable the electronic transmission of trade-related information across the region by 2020.
Seventeen economies have submitted Individual Action Plans on Paperless Trading outlining progress made "to reduce or eliminate the requirement for paper documents needed for customs and other cross-border trade administration and other documents and messages relevant to international sea, air and land transport" as set out in the APEC Blueprint for Action on E-Commerce.
Maria Lourdes A. YAPTINCHAY (Ms)
Office of Policy Research / E-Commerce Office
Department of Trade and Industry
385 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue
1200 Makati City
Tel: +632 8971243 / +632 9765701
Amran SAMEON (Mr)
ECSG Vice Chair
Trade Facilitation and Technology
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
10th Floor Block 10 Government Offices Complex
Jalan Duta 50622 Kuala Lumpur
Daniele CHATELOIS (Ms)
Data Privacy Sub-group (DPS) Chair
Electronic Commerce Branch
300 Slater Street, Room 1889-D
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0C8
Tel: +1613 990-4255
Fax: +1613 941-1164
Susan H. S. LU (Ms)
Paperless Trading Sub-group (PTS) Chair
E-Commerce Task Force
Tel: +82 2 2110 4817
Fax: +82 2 504 6000
Mikiharu SHIMIZU (Mr)