WELLINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand will participate in negotiations to establish global e-commerce trade rules at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said on Saturday.
The talks will set rules "in an area that was not mature," Parker said in a statement, adding e-commerce is especially important to small businesses as it enables them to participate in cross border trade previously more practical for larger businesses.
This is especially important for New Zealand where smaller businesses are the norm, Parker added.
New Zealand is one of the 76 members representing more than 90 percent of global trade that have signed to reiterate their support for this WTO initiative.
Online shopping is growing rapidly around the world with consumer spending online doubling in the last five years and business-to-business e-commerce trade estimated at 19.9 trillion NZ dollars (13.6 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2015, statistics showed.
In 2017, New Zealanders spent more than 3.6 billion NZ dollars buying goods online, up 13 percent compared with the previous year, Parker said.
The expansion of e-commerce offers the potential to help businesses overcome the challenges of scale and distance, sell products directly to consumers online and offer more choices for consumers, he said.
The minister stressed the need for reliable personal privacy and consumer protections, transparency and openness, while making it easier for businesses and consumers to take advantage of e-commerce.
New Zealand businesses are increasingly adapting to e-commerce, especially when it comes to foreign trade. The country's largest live lobster exporter Fiordland Lobster Company Group has started to explore China's online market.
The company's General Manager Andrew Harvey said its lobsters will be sold directly through the company's own online connections with Chinese consumers this year.
"There's a lot of work to be done understanding what our Chinese customers want from us in this channel, and we're looking forward to it," Harvey told Xinhua.