Cyberlaw adoption in Latin America moves forward

25 September 2014

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

2014-09-25_CyberLaw_350x310.jpgThe 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.