Mexico, U.S. Sign E-Commerce Agreement

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MEXICO CITY - Mexico and the U.S. last month concluded an agreement to help Mexico promote the use of e-commerce.


The idea is to strengthen a bilateral dialogue between the two countries on the new medium using IT, video conferencing and virtual trade shows. The U.S. pledged to help train Mexican business in setting up and running e-commerce ventures.


In remarks at a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here, Under Secretary of Commerce David Aaron said he hoped that Mexican government and the private sector "will be a strong partner in dealing with the many complex issues that must be resolved."


Aaron also urged the Mexicans to keep cyberspace duty free and to honor the current moratorium on taxing cyberspace transactions. And he said the private sector should take the lead in developing the new market.


Government does need to get involved in some areas, he noted, such as ensuring privacy and offering consumer protection.


He did warn, however, that if governments did not uniformly protect consumers, commercial Web sites would move to countries that had the most lax laws on the books.


On the controversial privacy issue, the U.S. and Mexico see eye to eye, Commerce Department spokesman Daniel Cruise said, and the tough Italian data protection model, which is making headway in Brazil and Argentina, has not gotten very far in Mexico.


The new agreement does not call for spending foreign-aid money, but is designed to facilitate contacts among U.S. and Mexican businesses interested in developing e-commerce.


While Aaron was in Mexico, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored a one-day seminar on e-commerce at the DOC's large commercial center in Mexico City.


The session was geared to small and medium-sized business and taught participants on how to set up a site and how to offer merchandise on it that people will buy.


"This is still somewhat new in Mexico," Cruise said, "but people are beginning to catch on to it and the Mexican government is interested in pushing an e-commerce agenda."


The meeting also featured a teleconference among U.S. businesses in three cities, including New York and Washington, and Mexican officials and businessmen on looking at opportunities in the telecom business.


"The idea was to put people in direct contact with each other so that the Americans could get quick answers to regulatory and other questions involved in coming into the Mexican market," Cruise said.
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