PAB US, Japan: Hands Off the Net

Sascha Ignjatovic (
Mon, 18 May 1998 03:05:23 +0200 (MET DST)

US, Japan: Hands Off the Net

7:53am 15.May.98.PDT
BIRMINGHAM, England -- Japan and the
United States on Friday said government
interference in the development of the Internet
should be kept to a minimum.

After holding talks ahead of the Group of
Eight summit here, Japanese Prime Minister
Ryutaro Hashimoto and US President Bill
Clinton issued a joint statement calling for the
private sector to take the lead in developing
the Net.

"Electronic commerce will be an engine of
economic growth in the 21st century, with the
potential to invigorate economies by
enhancing productivity, streamlining
distribution, and revamping corporate
structure," the statement said. "Both
governments should avoid imposing
unnecessary regulations or restrictions on
electronic commerce."

The two governments also vowed that
electronic transmissions should remain free of
tariffs, saying they will "work toward a global
understanding" to maintain the current
"duty-free environment."

Next week, Clinton will attend a World Trade
Organization meeting in Geneva, hoping to
forge an agreement to keep electronic
transmissions duty free. Earlier this month, the
United States got the European Union to
agree on working toward a "standstill" to keep
the Net tariff-free, but was unable to gain a
commitment for a permanent accord. The EU
wants to establish a series of regulatory rules
and agencies to monitor the Internet, although
it has said that in principle it believes the Net
should be free of tariffs.

The Clinton-Hashimoto statement also said
the two nations would participate in the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development work in developing a framework
for the taxation of electronic commerce "to
prevent tax evasion and avoidance on the