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Mercosur countries sign digital trade deal


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The countries making up Mercosur signed an electronic commerce agreement facilitating digital transactions and banning the creation of barriers on the segment. According to a note by Brazil’s Economy and Foreign Ministries, the document deepens regional integration by regulating an ever more relevant topic  in global trade.

The agreement represents a shared legal milestone in preventing the creation of possible obstacles to electronic trade among the four members of the bloc—Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Among the agreed topics are the prohibition of tariffs on downloads, streaming, and purchases on stores incompatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization.

Under the agreement, Mercosur nations are not allowed to demand from digital service companies to install servers in national territory. Thus, a platform operating in Brazil does not need, for instance, to install a server in Argentina to serve consumers in the neighboring countries. Only financial institutions must observe this requirement, in compliance with the central banks of Mercosur members.

Other items in the pact include accepting digital signatures in Mercosur countries, aligning national online consumer protection norms with bloc rules and adopting and preserving personal data protection and anti-spam legislation.

Strides

Also in the joint note, the ministry announced that the deal was based on the most advanced recommendations from international forums, like the G20 and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The regional agreement, the note reports, contributes to the creation of international rules for electronic trade within the WHO.

Since 1998, WHO countries have, every two years, renewed their commitment not to impose tariffs on electronic trade, thus establishing itself as a tool for the local protection of the segment in the absence of a global deal. The text signed is said to be similar to the commercial agreement forged with Chile in 2018.

Mercosur’s deal on electronic trade was signed on April 29 and unveiled by the Brazilian government also last week. “Its conclusion yet again reinforces Mercosur’s commitment with commercial integration and the strengthening of competitiveness conditions of its economies,” the note reads.

Another deal

Also on Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro submitted to Congress the text of the Agreement on Border Locations Linked to Mercosur, signed during the 55th Summit of Heads of State of Mercosur, in 2019.

The agreement aims to provide the legal foundation in international law to have Mercosur governments guarantee to citizens of such areas the right to obtain a neighborly transit document facilitating the circulation between countries and granting benefits for studying, working, health care, and the trade of subsistence goods.

Holders of this document will be allowed to study and work on both sides of the border. They will also have the right to move through an exclusive or priority channel when available, at border stations. The right to health services in such areas may be granted in a mutual and complementary manner.

The agreement also concerns issues on cooperation between public institutions in these regions in epidemiological surveillance, public security, fight against transnational crime, civil defense, teacher training, human rights, cultural heritage preservation, mobility for artists, and the circulation of cultural goods, and the measures against the illicit traffic of such goods.

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