19 January 2001

The Governments of Japan and of the United Kingdom, sharing a vision of the development of a global information society, and recognising the need to work together to foster an international environment which will support the growth of electronic commerce and maximise the advantages for citizens, express their intention to promote co-operation as follows;


The purpose of this document is to promote the development of electronic commerce by endorsing a shared vision, policy principles and an agenda for co-operation between the Governments of Japan and of the United Kingdom.


The Government of Japan and the Government of the UK, working where appropriately through the European Community, will cooperate bilaterally and collaboratively in furthering the work of international organizations to create a positive environment for the growth of electronic commerce, based on:

(1) Enhancing the information infrastructure - striving to ensure effective access to low costs and high quality information infrastructures and services for e-commerce by means of effective competition in telecommunications networks and services.

(2) Establishing transparent, objective ground rules for the digital marketplace - ensuring that existing legal and commercial frameworks in areas such as contract law and intellectual property apply to electronic transmissions and enable the future growth of e-commerce and its social potential.

(3) Building trust for users and consumers - ensuring safeguards to provide protection and increased confidence in the digital marketplace by addressing such issues as privacy, security, and consumer protection.

(4) Maximizing the social and economic benefits - addressing the needs of business, including small and medium-sized enterprises, organizations, and consumers in developing and developed countries.

(5) Promoting global participation - developing a broad collaborative approach that includes governments, the private sector, the wider community, and international organizations which aims at maximizing the social and economic potential of electronic commerce across all economies and societies.


The following principles form the basis for cooperation between the two Governments in promoting the growth and use of electronic commerce and future development of the information society:

* The private sector should lead in the development of electronic commerce and in establishing business practices.

* In meeting the public interest, the primary role of governments is to create a favourable environment for global electronic commerce, for both business and consumers, and to maximise its potential for social, civic and community development in a manner which:

  • optimizes private sector innovation and initiative in a competitive environment;
  • minimizes legal and regulatory barriers to electronic trade, and avoids the emergence of new ones while recognizing the responsibility of governments to pursue, consistent with any international commitments, public policy objectives;
  • provides confidence in the instruments and networks of electronic commerce through appropriate government action and use of policy tools (i.e., legislation, regulation, and self-regulation) which are clear, transparent, and predictable and which protect the public interest and the rights of consumers;
  • takes account of the needs and interests of the wider community through consultation with representative groups.

* Governments also have a key role to play in the growth of electronic commerce by acting as a 'model user' and support for private sector-led initiatives and call-to-action. Governments can both enhance business and user confidence, and improve administration by pursuing excellence in the online delivery of government services and information using electronic payment systems and public key infrastructure and other authentication technologies.

* International co-operation and harmonisation among all countries will assist in the construction of a seamless global environment for electronic commerce and extend its benefits to all.


Recognising that bilateral co-operation can complement and advance the development of essential multilateral frameworks, the Governments of Japan and of the United Kingdom share the following agenda for co-operation and intend to implement it both in their respective national policies and internationally:

(1) Bilateral Action -- Actively promote exchange of information and views and co-operation between the two governments with the participation of the private sector and the wider community in both countries in undertaking action on the issues discussed in this announcement. The representatives of both sides will meet regularly in conjunction with existing international meetings to further this agenda and facilitate the translation of this co-operation into meaningful international frameworks. Key priorities for joint work over the next year include:

* Consumer protection -- Both governments will support measures to promote consumer confidence in electronic markets, including consumer trustmarks and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The representatives of both Governments will:

  • exchange information on national approaches, consumer concerns and private sector mechanisms;
  • encourage and promote co-operation for mutual recognition of both: a) national seal programmes for consumer protection developed on the basis of stakeholder collaboration (business, consumer groups, governments, experts); and b) related alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

* Privacy -- Both Governments consider that frameworks for the protection of privacy and personal information are a vital component of an electronic commerce strategy and are beneficial to the evolution of an information society. The Government of Japan and the Government of the UK, working where appropriately through the European Community, will collaborate closely towards the development of their respective frameworks in order to ensure the free flow of personal data between the UK and Japan.

* Security -- Both Governments share the views on the necessity of policies to facilitate the use of technologies for authentication and for the conduct of secure electronic commerce. To this end, both sides will discuss the various technological options for providing authentication and work towards facilitating a common framework and approach which would promote electronic transactions across borders that supports a variety of authentication technologies. Both sides will also explore mechanisms to enhance international co-operation to combat illegal activities and to protect users from potentially harmful content.

* Business Partnerships -- Both Governments recognise the importance of business partnerships to the growth of global electronic commerce, and will encourage and support collaboration between the Japanese and UK private sectors through broader co-operation initiatives, in particular in the area of research and development, technology, standards, and the interoperability of networks and electronic markets.

* Internet Economy -- E-commerce is a dynamic force that has, and will continue to have, a profound impact on our social and economic lives. Both Governments acknowledge the importance of sharing information on the development of metrics to measure the Internet economy and of studying the ongoing social and economic impacts of e-commerce. Both Governments will also continue to co-operate, bilaterally and within the framework of international organizations such as the OECD, to develop relevant cross-country indicators and adequate Internet economy analysis programmes.

* Market Development / E-Business Acceleration -- Both Governments will share information on key strategies and/or best practices aimed at ensuring that SMEs are well positioned to reap the benefits of e-business transformation.

* Skills and Training -Both Governments will co-operate on training and skills issues and will regularly exchange information by experts on the challenge of educating, training and developing a qualified workforce for the new economy.

(2) Multilateral Action -- Continue to collaborate in relevant international fora to support the broad international growth of and access to global electronic commerce and its benefits. In particular, bilateral discussions will be held to advance multilateral efforts in:

* Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -- Within the OECD, both Governments will continue to collaborate on the analysis of the social impact of information and communications technologies and the digital divide and on the implementation of consumer protection guidelines for e-commerce and methods for effective measurement of components of the information society, including the development of a set of cross-national statistical indicators for e-commerce.

* World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) -- Both governments support WIPO's electronic commerce work programme and will collaborate on WIPO initiatives related to intellectual property and electronic commerce.

* G-8 -- Both Governments will fully commit themselves to implementing the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society and fully support the work of the Digital Opportunity Task Force (dot force). The dot force will be instrumental in facilitating discussions with developing countries, international organisations and other stakeholders to promote international co-operation and encouraging participation in global e-commerce networks.

* United Nations System -- Both Governments will co-operate to bridge the digital divide and will encourage the active participation of developing countries in the development of electronic commerce for the benefit of all.

* World Trade Organisation (WTO) -- The Government of Japan and the Government of the UK, working as appropriate through the European Community, will continue to press for the timely progression and completion of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce; an ambitious liberalisation of those services necessary to allow electronic commerce to flourish as well as of those which can benefit most from its application; and, more generally, for the full integration of electronic commerce within the full multilateral framework of WTO rules which underpin the international trading system.

* International Telecommunication Union (ITU) -- Both Governments will continue to encourage ITU standardisation activities regarding electronic commerce, and will co-operate with each other in relevant ITU activities aimed at bridging the digital divide, such as the ITU project on Electronic Commerce for Developing Countries.

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