Harnessing the power of e-commerce for economic growth and sustainable development

15 March 2017

2017 E-commerce Week themed "Towards Inclusive E-Commerce" will take place on 24-28 April gathering high-level representatives of the digital economy from governments, private sector, International organizations, civil society and youths.

The week comes at a crucial moment where many governments are analyzing the impact of the digital economy and e-commerce on global growth and will provide opportunities for further discussion on key challenges and opportunities related to e-commerce. Indeed, by providing new opportunities and new markets, e-commerce can become a powerful driver of economic growth, inclusive trade and job creation.

"Governments, industries, civil society must together prepare to harness opportunities of e-commerce and address challenges. We can leave no one behind in this development journey", said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, adding that concerted efforts are especially needed to help developing countries strengthen their readiness to trade online.

“E-commerce has the potential to be a major engine for trade and development on a global scale if all stakeholders act together in the interest of all," Dr. Kituyi reiterated.


While global trade growth has been stagnant for several years, e-commerce has been growing rapidly. Between 2013 and 2015, the value of online trade accelerated upwards, between 2013 and 2015, from $16 trillion to $22 trillion.

"As the digital economy expands and more business activities are affected, it becomes more important for governments to consider policies that can help to harness e-commerce for sustainable development,” said Dr. Kituyi, specifying that governments need to improve areas including information and communications technology infrastructure, the legal and regulatory environment, and develop skills in their populations.

Discussions during the UNCTAD E-Commerce Week will provide political perspectives on priority areas and define concrete actions towards more inclusive e-commerce and sustainable development.

The week will host a high level event themed "Digital Transformation for All: Empowering Entrepreneurs and Small Business" featuring key representatives of Governments, International organizations, private sector, and among other as well as the first gathering of partners of "eTrade For All", the global initiative, launched at UNCTAD 14 Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in July 2016 to channel effective assistance to developing countries wishing to engage in e-commerce. Its second phase will commence with the unveiling of its online platform on 25 April.

The rest of the week will feature events that are co-organized with partner international organizations and the private sector. These sessions will focus on specific policy areas of the eTrade For All initiative and will seek to identify forward-looking insights and concrete actions that can help developing countries engage in and benefit from e-commerce.

Special insights will be devoted to LDCs' readiness in engaging in e-commerce and the role of gender in e-trade. ICT infrastructure and services, trade facilitation, payment solutions and access to capital issues will be discussed in depth, alongside the need to build SMEs and local actors' skills.