UNCTAD helps Thai government to improve the comparability of its e-commerce statistics

06 November 2015

​The challenge of producing internationally comparable and relevant statistics was highlighted at the International Workshop on Measuring E-commerce, organized by UNCTAD in collaboration with the Electronic Transactions Development Agency of Thailand, in Bangkok on 27 October 2015.

Thailand's Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) will be able to further enhance the way it collects official data about e-commerce in the country after participating in an international workshop on measuring economic activity on the Internet organized by UNCTAD.

Thirty participants, including representatives from Brazil, Canada, Finland, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, as well as the European Union and other OECD countries, attended the workshop to compare notes on the current methodologies employed for measuring e-commerce.

The workshop aimed to identify common practices as well as remaining challenges for producing internationally comparable data. Among the topics covered were the current definitions of e-commerce in use, survey approaches to measuring e-commerce, both at the enterprise and household level, useful sub-categories of e-commerce, coverage of surveys by enterprise size class and economic activity.

Presentations made at the workshop emphasized that a number of issues still needed to be addressed, such as: capturing the value of consumer-to-consumer transactions, e-commerce generated by firms with up to 10 persons employed, continuous orders, cross-border transactions and the emergence of new e-commerce business models.

The global volume of e-commerce transitions is expanding fast, with developing economies gaining prominence. According to the UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2015 the global value of business-to-business e-commerce exceeded $15 trillion in 2013, with business-to-consumer reaching $1.2 trillion.

Thailand is one of few developing economies that compile official statistics on e-commerce. In 2013 according to the National Statistics Office of Thailand and the UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2015, just under 1 million people in Thailand had shopped online and business-to-consumer e-commerce revenues amounted to $3.9 billion. As Thailand seeks to boost its electronic transactions, e-commerce statistics are growing in relevance and demand.

UNCTAD has long supported the capacity of national statistical systems in developing countries to produce comparable statistics on the information economy. This is done in close collaboration with the Partnership on Measuring Information and Communication Technology for Development, of which UNCTAD is a founding member. UNCTAD's capacity-building programme in this area is financially supported by the Government of Sweden.

This activity benefited from the participation of national experts from the Regional Center for Studies on the Development of the Information Society of Brazil (CETIC.br), Statistics Finland and the Korea Association of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Promotion (KAIT). Thailand was represented by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency of Thailand, the Thai National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, the Ministry of Commerce, the Thai E-Commerce Association and the Bank of Thailand.

For more information see: Measuring the information economy.