moratorium on digital trade worth an estimated $225 billion a
year has been in place since 1998, but was due to expire in
December and required unanimity at the WTO for renewal.
"Members agree to maintain the current practice of not imposing
customs duties on electronic transmissions until the 12th
Ministerial Conference," the General Council's decision said,
referring to a WTO meeting in Kazakhstan in June.
The decision came after talks ran late into Monday evening, two
trade officials said.
Several countries, including India and South Africa, have
expressed interest in lifting the moratorium as they develop
their digital economies and seek to recuperate lost customs
revenue as more trade becomes digital. Some said this could lead
to tit-to-tat tariffs on the internet.
John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of
Commerce, welcomed the decision and said it indicated "the
continued value of the WTO as a forum for multilateral trade
policy making" after members failed to resolve a crisis at its
top court on Monday.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by David Clarke and Mark
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