UNCTAD E-Commerce Week 2017 - connecting the dots for sustainable development

21 February 2017

As the way market transactions are being undertaken continues to change, customers and businesses are adapting their strategies to get the best from the growing modern online market.

At its core, e-commerce could be defined as the trading of goods and services through electronic media. This business model has been particularly promoted by the growth of technologies like mobile devices, mobile commerce, e-payments, internet banking and automated data collection systems, and by the increase in internet access across the world.

"E-commerce is a train that has left the station and is quickly gathering speed. Digitalization continues to further transform what we do and how we do things," UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

"E-commerce is a new shining Star," Dr. Kituyi added.

High-level representatives of the digital economy from governments, the private sector, international organizations, civil society and youth will gather in Geneva from 24 to 28 April for UNCTAD's E-Commerce Week 2017, themed "Towards Inclusive E-Commerce".

The week offers an opportunity to forge relationships, discuss priority areas, exchange successful ideas and define concrete actions towards more inclusive e-commerce and sustainable development.

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E-commerce Week 2017 comes at a crucial moment. Many governments are analyzing the impact of the digital economy and e-commerce on global trade, and the week will provide opportunities to further discuss the key challenges and opportunities.

Dr. Kituyi said: "To make e-commerce a success in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need to connect the dots. All stakeholders must join forces to unleash the potential of digitalization and provide the necessary support to those countries that are less equipped to face the digital transformation."

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 jumped from $16 trillion to $22 trillion.

During the week, high-level executives will provide political perspectives on priority areas and define concrete actions towards more inclusive e-commerce and sustainable development.

The week will also host the first gathering of partners of eTrade For All initiative. Launched in July 2016 at UNCTAD's 14th ministerial conference in Nairobi, the global initiative aims to channel effective assistance to developing countries wishing to engage in e-commerce.

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

Special insight will be devoted to the readiness of Least Developed Countries to engage in and benefit form e-commerce. The gender dimension, Information and Communications Technology infrastructure and services, trade facilitation, payment solutions and access to capital are some of the issues that will be discussed in depth, along with the need to build small- and medium-sized businesses and local actors' skills.