E-commerce Opportunity: Developing Countries Urged to Grab $22 Trillion

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has urged developing countries to grasp the rapidly growing opportunity of electronic commerce (e-commerce), worth around $22.1 trillion.

UNCTAD warned that countries not taking up e-commerce risked being left behind. The remarks were made by various speakers at the launch of a new e-commerce initiative, called “eTrade for All”, that brings international organisations, donors and businesses under one umbrella.

The initiative is aimed at easing access for developing countries to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding.

“While more than 70% of people are shopping online in Denmark, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom, the story is different in most developing countries. In Bangladesh, Ghana and Indonesia, for example, just two percent or less of the population buy online,” UNCTAD said in a statement.

“A huge divide is opening between countries that are exploiting those opportunities and those that are not,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.

New UNCTAD data show that e-commerce is growing rapidly, with emerging economies accounting for most of this growth. China is now the world’s largest B2C e-commerce market, both in terms of sales and in number of online shoppers.

Brazil, India, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation have also all moved into the top 10 e-commerce markets.

“I am delighted by this collaboration with our partners, which finally gives the global community an effective platform for helping developing countries access and benefit from e-commerce,” Kituyi said.

The financing of eTrade for all initiative will be funded by the governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sweden, Finland and the Republic of Korea and will support developing countries which express an interest in boosting their online commerce, said UNCTAD.

The initiative will help developing countries in seven policy areas, including e-commerce assessments, information and communications technology infrastructure, payments, trade logistics, legal and regulatory frameworks, skills development and financing for e-commerce, said UNCTAD.

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