Today, in the city of Montevideo, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay signed the Mercosur Agreement on E-Commerce through their Permanent Representatives. The contents of the Agreement had been agreed on at the Meeting of the Common Market Council, on 15 December 2020, but the Agreement could not be signed that day because the meeting was held virtually.
Under this agreement, a common legal framework is established to facilitate trade in goods and services through electronic means among the countries of the bloc.
Accordingly, the provisions in the Agreement deal with cross-border information transfer, personal data protection, tariff-free electronic transfers, electronic signature, location of computing facilities, online consumer protection and internet access and use, among other matters.
E-commerce had been growing every year, but the changes in lifestyle caused by the pandemic accelerated this trend. According to the Argentine Chamber of Electronic Commerce (CACE), during 2020, e-commerce in Argentina grew 124% as compared to the previous year, totalling ARS 905.143 billion. There was an increase in both the number of goods sold (251 miillion, 72% more than in 2019) and the amount of purchase orders placed (164 million, 84% more than in 2019).
These figures prove the importance of a legal framework on this matter for Mercosur.
Although this is a modern agreement, in line with those under negotiation at multilateral, regional and subregional levels, it contains a biennial review provision so as to gradually include any technological and legal advances made in this ever-evolving activity.