Fostering development gains from domestic and cross-border e-commerce in developing countries

Action taken by the Trade and Development Board 2018
Fostering development gains from domestic and cross-border e-commerce in developing countries
Agreed Policy Recommendations
Closing plenary
20 Apr 2018

The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy,

Welcoming the written and oral contributions from participants that enriched the debate on the chosen topics for discussion,

Emphasizing the importance of electronic commerce (e-commerce) and the digital economy for sustainable and inclusive development,

Recognizing that current gaps in electronic trade readiness, between developed and developing countries as well as within countries, imply that benefits from e-commerce are not equally distributed and the need for adequate policy responses in this context,

Noting that digital economy and e-commerce platforms can create both opportunities and challenges for developing countries,

Recognizing the need to explore the possibility of fostering local e-commerce platforms in developing countries,

Noting with concern that access and effective use by microenterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries of international e-commerce platforms remain challenging,

Recognizing that microenterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries face many problems, including operational constraints when setting up online trade,

  1. Acknowledges the need to maximize the benefits and address the challenges of e-commerce and the digital economy and that policymakers need to address multiple policy areas holistically, including those related to digital infrastructure, trade, competition, local content, consumer protection, data protection, electronic transactions, cybersecurity, online dispute settlement, taxation, linguistic diversity, education, skills development and labour;
  2. Encourages Governments, where appropriate, to engage in a dialogue with all relevant stakeholders when formulating policies and regulations to help to ensure potential development gains from the growing use of digital platforms;
  3. Encourages developing countries to seek to learn from the experiences of other economies in addressing relevant policy challenges, to avoid repeating mistakes and to benefit from good practices;
  4. Taking note of the important role that local platforms can play in addressing local demands and responding to local circumstances, encourages collaboration between Governments and other relevant stakeholders towards creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and innovation, providing access to finance and technology for digital start-ups, generating awareness, building trust and fostering an enabling legal and policy environment;
  5. Takes note, with a view to making local platforms in the least developed countries more robust and competitive, of the possibility of use of digital platform cooperatives using scarce resources to develop digital solutions, including with support from eTrade for all partners, for capacity-building;
  6. Noting that unequal access to and effective use of international e-commerce platforms may be due to different factors (host or home country regulations, geographical constraints, corporate strategies and business environments), encourages Governments and other stakeholders to remove barriers that particularly developing countries are facing in this regard;
  7. Acknowledges the importance of international discussion on how to enhance universal availability of interoperable payment systems and predictable and transparent business environments for interaction between platforms and businesses, while retaining safeguards for anti-money laundering;
  8. Encourages the effective use of innovative technological and institutional solutions with a view to overcoming problems identified related to payments, physical addressing systems, export promotion and trade logistics;
  9. Noting with concern remaining gender divides in the use of e-commerce and the digital economy, urges all stakeholders to give adequate attention to addressing specific challenges and fostering opportunities for women-led businesses related to trading online;
  10. Encourages, emphasizing the differences in electronic trade readiness between urban and rural areas, development of dedicated efforts by Governments and development partners in making e-commerce viable in rural areas of developing countries, notably by ensuring the availability of electricity, mobile connectivity, road infrastructure and addressing systems;
  11. Calls on Governments and development partners to enhance their efforts in building the capacity of small producers in developing countries to compete in export markets by trading online;
  12. Reiterates the need for effective interaction between the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy, the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Competition Law and Policy, with a view to reaping synergies and avoiding duplication;
  13. Encourages the UNCTAD secretariat to explore opportunities for collaboration with the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries in the area of fostering increased electronic trade readiness in the least developed countries and seek to extend electronic trade readiness assessments for other developing countries.