Measuring e-commerce and the digital economy

UNCTAD's work on measuring e-commerce and the digital economy aims to build the capacity of countries to produce official statistics on e-commerce and the digital economy, and that can be used to guide policy making.

The lack of such data currently constitutes a significant gap in the tool-kit governments need to design and implement ICT policies for development.


Areas of work

Technical assistance, research and methodological guidance

UNCTAD provides technical assistance, research and methodological guidance for Member States interested in measuring e-commerce and the digital economy, including with regard to the following questions:

  • What is the size of the ICT producing sector?    
  • To what extent and in what ways do enterprises of different sizes use ICT?
  • What is the value of domestic and cross-border e-commerce sales?
  • What is the value of ICT-enabled/digital services exports and their share in total services exports?
  • Which countries are the largest exporters and importers of different ICT goods?
  • How do countries rank in the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index and how can they improve?
  • How can countries develop more comprehensive gender-based ICT indicators?

Technical assistance frequently takes the form of regional training courses, on-demand national workshops, or advisory missions.

UNCTAD is a member of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, and of the Inter-Agency Task Force on International Trade Statistics, and works in collaboration with a broad range of international organizations and experts to define, harmonize and produce internationally comparable ICT indicators, including the G20.

Data collection

UNCTAD collects and disseminates official statistics concerning ICT, including topics such as use of ICT by enterprises, trade in ICT goods and services, and the size of the ICT sector.

Resources for National Statistical Offices of member States concerning data submission can be found here.

Consensus building

UNCTAD organizes meetings, including the Working Group on Measuring E-commerce and the Digital Economy and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy, which aim to build international consensus, including on issues related to the statistical needs of member States, especially developing countries.