Duterte ratifies UN treaty on use of electronic contracts

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte recently signed the instrument of ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (UNECC).

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Signed by the Philippines on 25 September 2007, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has pushed for the country’s accession to the agreement which aims to facilitate the use of electronic communications in international trade by ensuring that contracts concluded and other communications exchanged electronically are as valid and enforceable as their traditional paper-based equivalents.

Early this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) endorsed to the president the UNECC for ratification as Executive Agreement, after receiving the certificates of concurrence (COC) from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Ratification of this treaty is important because it sends a strong signal on the Philippines’ readiness to adopt a modern and predictable legal regime for international electronic contracts. It will further bolster our efforts to promote cross border transactions. That the ratification took place before the end of the PRRD’s administration demonstrates once more the administration’s excellent performance to facilitate online access to digital goods and services and to strengthen the digital economy as a driver of growth,” said DTI secretary Ramon Lopez.

According to Lopez, the UN ECC creates a modern and enabling legal framework for electronic commercial exchange as it reinforces the level of uniformity in electronic transactions by establishing common rules across jurisdictions.

In the 2021 United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, the Philippines scored 86.02% higher than the Southeast Asia average of 74.29%.   

In March 2022, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) conducted a Legal Readiness Assessment for Cross-Border Paperless Trade report and recommended the accession by the Philippines to the UNECC to govern the legal recognition of cross-border electronic transactions, while domestic law will continue to govern domestic transactions. 

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