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Tech Industry

Pac Rim to back e-commerce plan

A group of Pacific Rim nations is expected to support a global framework aimed at governing and encouraging electronic commerce over the Internet.

SAN FRANCISCO--A group of Pacific Rim nations, meeting this weekend in Vancouver, Canada, is expected to back a global framework aimed at governing and encouraging electronic commerce over the Internet, a top White House e-commerce official said yesterday.

Ira Magaziner told an audience of Pacific Rim business executives that the resolution on Internet commerce will be general, but will lay the groundwork for "intensive study" on international e-commerce policies by members of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

"We are interested in working together with countries that want to create this future," Magaziner told a Pacific Rim summit on information technology policy sponsored by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC). "If there are countries that want to close their markets, write their own standards, or force all content to be translated into their language, we're going to let them."

In an interview, Magaziner said he expects a joint U.S.-European Union communiqu? in early December to call specifically for negotiations among European nations, the United States, and APEC on an international regime for Internet commerce.

In the spring, Magaziner said in the interview, the United States will seek to get Latin American countries on board for similar discussions at a hemispheric summit of government leaders from the Americas.

Magaziner's comments came on the same day a key government minister from Taiwan suggested APEC was an appropriate forum for discussions on e-commerce policy. Indonesia's trade minister also backed international talks at the high-tech policy summit. (See related story.)

Malaysia's top economic minister, however, expressed concern that Net commerce could produce economic disruptions like the currency crisis sweeping Asia, which Malaysia blames on international speculators. However, Magaziner expressed optimism that the Malaysians would be supportive after the current currency woes pass.

The White House envoy also called privacy guidelines under discussion at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) "quite good," in part because they emphasize nongovernmental enforcement of privacy policies.

"We believe that framework should be enforced by codes of conduct and private industry groups," Magaziner said in his speech.