Australia has led an initiative at the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) on e-commerce.

Today I co-chaired a meeting on digital trade with Japan's Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, and Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang.

With the support of 67 other WTO Members, we launched an initiative to work together as a group toward future negotiations on electronic commerce.

The group, who account for more than 75 per cent of global trade, is an opportunity to update international trade rules to ensure they keep pace with technological change.

Modern trade will increasingly be by e-commerce. At a time when the role of the WTO is being called into question, this e-commerce initiative reinforces how the WTO adds value.

Delivering an initiative with such broad support, while the WTO faces headwinds, is a significant outcome for Australia and the WTO.

The group will be working intensively in 2018, with a view to WTO negotiations. We must maintain the positive momentum we built in Buenos Aires to deliver results for all of our businesses and consumers.

Australian exporters, including tech start-ups, could benefit from new global rules to reduce red tape when operating in foreign markets, helping them grow their exports. Rules could also deal with issues such as spam emails, which affects consumers around the world.

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