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  July 27th, 2016 | Written by

New Initiative Helps Developing Countries Develop Ecommerce Opportunities

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  • 70 percent of people shop online in developed markets while less than two percent do so in the developing world.
  • A huge divide is opening between countries that are exploiting ecommerce opportunities and those that are not.
  • Ecommerce is increasingly becoming international.

Developing countries should grasp the rapidly growing opportunity of ecommerce, worth $22.1 trillion in 2015, up 38 per cent from 2013, or risk falling quickly behind.

That was the message from the United Nations agency UNCTAD at the recent launch of a new ecommerce initiative.

Dubbed eTrade for All, the program brings international organizations, donors, and businesses under one umbrella, easing developing country access to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding.

By providing new opportunities and new markets, online commerce can help generate economic

opportunities, including jobs. But while more than 70 percent 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, just two percent or less of the population buy online.

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

Ecommerce includes both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), respectively valued at around $19.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion each, according to the new UNCTAD data. This trade is mostly domestic, but is becoming more and more international.

The new UNCTAD data show that ecommerce 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 ecommerce markets.

“This collaboration finally gives the global community an effective platform for helping developing countries access and benefit from ecommerce,” said Kituyi.

With strong involvement by the private sector, through an advisory council, and with financial contributions from the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, and the Republic of Korea, the eTrade for All initiative will support developing countries which express an interest in boosting their online commerce.

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

The initiative will also support the December 2015 call by the United Nations General Assembly to better use information and communication technology to facilitate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.