Forty representatives from 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean attended a regional workshop on e-commerce legislation harmonization held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from 16 to 19 September.
The event was organized by UNCTAD in cooperation with the Ecuadorian Foreign Trade Ministry, Sistema Económico Latinoamericano y del Caribe (SELA) and the Association of Caribbean States.
Juan Francisco Ballén, Vice-Minister of the Foreign Trade Ministry of Ecuador, opened the workshop by underlining the opportunities offered by e-commerce and the need to create an enabling environment using international instruments for facilitating cross-border transactions. He thanked UNCTAD and the government of Finland for supporting the building of capacities in the region.
In Latin America, business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce has increased from an estimated $1.6 billion to $70 billion in the past decade. Brazil accounts for the largest share of that market, followed by Mexico and Argentina. But the region is still a small player from a global perspective. In 2013, the top three countries accounted for about 1.57 percent, 0.78 percent and 0.34 percent, respectively, of worldwide B2C e-commerce sales.
The establishment of legal frameworks in the region has supported growth in e-commerce and of the 20 participating countries in the workshop:
Eighteen have specific laws on e-transactions or have adapted existing instruments
Thirteen have data protection laws and another three have draft legislation
Fourteen have laws or regulations that protect consumer online
Fifteen have adapted their legislation to cybercrime
The workshop heard presentations from representatives of Mercado Libre, the Asociación Mexicana de la Industria Publicitaria y Comercial en Internet (AMIPCI) and the Instituto Latinoamericano de comercio electrónico.
They provided an overview of global, regional and national e-commerce trends and related issues, together with other public and private sector bodies involved in e-commerce in Ecuador.
Country representatives gave presentions on the status of their e-commerce legislation and discussed issues in relation with the evolving information and communications technology environment, including such technologies as cloud computing and big data, and the need to create a trustworthy environment for e-commerce to grow. Payment issues and delivery challenges were also underlined.
The workshop followed an UNCTAD distance-learning training course which was taken by as many as 300 participants in the region in June 2014.
Discussions held during the workshop will feed into a comparative regional study on the harmonization of e-commerce legislation in Latin America, scheduled for publication in 2015.