APEC Ministers,

  • Recognising the enormous potential of electronic commerce to expand business opportunities, reduce costs, increase of efficiency, improve the quality life, and facilitate the greater participation of small business in global commerce.
  • Taking into account the different stages of development of member economies, the perse regulatory, social, economic and cultural frameworks in the region; and
  • Taking into account that enhancing capability in electronic commerce among APEC economies, including through economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH activities), is needed to enable all APEC economies to reap the benefits of electronic commerce;

Agreed to the following :

  1. The business sector plays a leading role in developing electronic commerce technology, applications, practices and services,

  2. The role of governments is to promote and facilitate the development and uptake of electronic commerce by :

    • Providing a favourable environment, including the legal and regulatory aspects, which is predictable, transparent and consistent

    • Providing an environment which promotes trust and confidence among electronic commerce participants

    • Promoting the efficient functioning of electronic commerce internationally by aiming, wherever possible, to develop domestic frameworks which are compatible with evolving international norms and practices, and

    • Becoming a leading-edge user in order to catalyse and encourage greater use of electronic means

  3. For electronic commerce to flourish, business and government should cooperate wherever possible to ensure the development of affordable, accessible and interoperable communication and information infrastructure.

  4. While recognising that some degree of government regulation may be necessary, technology-neutral, competitive market-based solutions which can be safeguarded by competition policy, and effective industry self-regulation, should be favoured.

  5. Government and business should co-operate to develop and implement technologies and policies, which build trust and confidence in safe, secure and reliable communication, information and delivery systems, and which address issues including privacy, authentication and consumer protection.


  6. In order to benefit fully from electronic commerce, APEC economies should endeavour to work together to build trust and confidence; enhance government use; intensify community outreach; promote technical cooperation and experience exchange; where appropriate, work towards eliminating impediments to its uptake; and develop seamless legal, technical, operating and trading environments to facilitate the growth and development of electronic commerce.

    To this end APEC Ministers agreed to a Work Program which builds on APEC's existing electronic commerce work, including:

    • Expanding and drawing lessons from the Task Force collection of case studies in order to facilitate and support electronic commerce activities by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), government, and business/public sector partnerships.

    • Understanding work to develop measures and indicators on the uptake, use and flows of electronic commerce

    • Identifying the economic costs that inhibit increased uptake of electronic commerce, including those imposed by regulatory and market environments.

    • Welcoming Finance Minsters' continuing work on financial aspects of electronic commerce, a priority agreed jointly with ABAC, including by involving the business sector, given the important role financial institutions play in the processes necessary for uptake and operation of electronic commerce.

    • Exploring further economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH activities) to facilitate the uptake, use and maximisation of benefits of electronic commerce in APEC member economies.\

    • Tasking authentication experts, which includes business sector experts, to study the range of business models for electronic authentication, including the role of possible mechanisms such as cross-certification and the use of a root certification authority, to promote inter-operability and trust and to facilitate cross-border electronic commerce.

    • Welcoming OECD's continuing on taxation, consumer protection, privacy and authentication issues, and agreed to monitor progress in discussion in these areas, and for experts to participate at a joint meeting of APEC/OECD officials in 1999 to discuss emerging technologies and business models for authentication.

    • Working with UNCITRAL and other international fora in moving forward work on legal foundations, where appropriate, for a seamless system of cross-border electronic commerce.

  7. Given the fast developing and changing nature of electronic commerce, APEC Ministers endorsed the development of a "Virtual" Electronic Commerce/Multimedia Resource Network to provide a reference base to continue raising awareness and exchanging information, including on economies' electronic commerce development strategies, government use of electronic commerce as a means to conduct business, and human resource development, education and training, and tasked officials to implement it taking into account the proposals of member economies, the proposed PECC Edupact stocktake of electronic commerce resources in member economies, and elsewhere.

  8. Taking into account perse legal and regulatory frameworks in the region, APEC Ministers agreed that member economies should endeavour 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 i.e. "Paperless Trading" (for trade in goods), where possible, by 2005 for developed and 2010 for developing economies, or as soon as possible thereafter. To this end, relevant APEC sub-fora should examine specific initiatives.

  9. APEC Ministers acknowledged the crucial importance to economic development, cross-border trade, international communications, transport and financial systems and electronic commerce, of urgently addressing the issue of the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem. To this end they agreed that APEC economies would continue to cooperate on Year 2000 preparation and would mount a regional contingency planning experts' conference in early 1999.

  10. APEC Ministers recognised that the task force approach had been an efficient and effective mechanism for providing coordination, greater focus and broad direction of the cross-cutting issue of electronic commerce. In line with the move to rationalise work management structures in APEC, the Electronic Commerce Task Force would conclude with delivery of its report through Senior Officials and Ministers to Leaders. To ensure continued co-ordination and pursuit of the Blueprint for Action, a Steering Group comprising representatives from member economies would be established involving relevant working groups and sub-fora as well as business sector experts in accordance with APEC guidelines on business participation. The Steering Group would conduct discussion virtually, but would also meet physically as necessary, and would prepare a report to the SOM once a year on progress in electronic commerce work in APEC. Ministers noted that potential for the model of a short-term task force drawing in business sector participation, to be used for dealing with other cross-cutting issues from time to time in APEC.