unctad.org | Digital Trade as if Development Mattered
Digital Trade as if Development Mattered
16 April 2018
15:00 - 16:30, Room XVII
Geneva, Switzerland

Key Issues

E-commerce opens-up a range of new opportunities for developing countries to promote entrepreneurship, job-creation, productivity growth, reduced gender gaps, investment attraction and increased cross-border trade.

The greater diffusion and use of online tools empowers countries to increase the number of exporting firms, the range of goods and services exchanged, the number of markets reached, and the volume and value of sales.

It also enables firms and consumers alike to access a wider variety of goods and services at a lower cost, to streamline trade operations and to gain in competitiveness or purchasing power.

None of the above benefits are however automatic. The enabling environment for digital trade remains deficient in many developing and least-developed countries. Bridging prevailing digital divides, both within and across countries, is key to translating the potential promise of new technologies into tangible and inclusive trade and growth opportunities. Only then can the development promise of the unfolding digital revolution be fully realized.

At the World Trade Organization's eleventh Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017, seventy-one Members lent support to a joint declaration on electronic commerce. In so doing, Members expressed a shared commitment to advance work in the WTO with a view to harnessing the full promise of the digital age and exploring the scope for possible future negotiations on the trade-related aspects of electronic commerce.

The WTO's diverse membership implies that development, capacity-strengthening and aid for trade be placed at the very center of any negotiating process. This panel brings together a diverse set of voices in exploring the development dimension of e-commerce discussions.

It focuses in turn on:

  • Identifying the key capacity constraints and implementation hurdles to which development provisions will need to respond
  • Highlighting the benefits that lesser developed countries can derive from deepened engagement in e-commerce discussions
  • Determining how best to promote greater inclusiveness, technological diffusion and digital uptake by leveraging private sector support for e-commerce development
  • Exploring the innovative development provisions embedded into the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • Delineating the substantive perimeter of possible future negotiations on electronic commerce and the value-added, including in development terms, of addressing such issues in a trade policy setting

Mr. Pierre Sauvé, Senior Trade Specialist, Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Global Practice, World Bank Group

Mr. Michael Ferrantino, Lead Economist, Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Global Practice, World Bank Group
H. E. Mr. Sorasak Pan, Minister of Commerce, Royal Government of Cambodia
Ms. Kati Suominen, Chief Executive Officer, Nextrade Group LLC
Ms. Nora Neufeld, Counsellor, Division on Market Access, World Trade Organization
H.E. Mr. Junichi Ihara, Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva and Chair of the WTO General Council

Co-organized with:Japan, World Bank Group
Mr. Pierre Sauvé
World Bank Group
Ms. Satoko Nakamura
Japan Permanent Mission

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