E-commerce is a powerful means to connect the unconnected to global trade

Philippines trade
Market in Cebu, Philippines

E-commerce is a powerful means to connect the unconnected to global trade

UNCTAD continues its efforts to encourage mutual learning between countries and within regions in the areas of e-commerce and the digital economy. “E-commerce is a powerful means to connect the unconnected to global trade,” said Torbjörn Fredriksson, chief of UNCTAD’s ICT policy section.  Read more about trade facilitation HERE

The case of Philippines: the percentage of retail purchases made electronically grew from just 1% to more than 10% in five years

The Philippine government set its sights on a digital future in 2015 when its trade department adopted a roadmap to more than double by 2020 e-commerce’s contribution to national GDP, from 10% to 25%.

But a major roadblock stood in the way. At the time, just 1% of all retail payments were made electronically, yet nearly 41% of the population was online.

Relentless efforts by the island nation’s central bank have helped push e-payments to over 10%, and the experience is one of eight e-commerce best practices showcased in a new UNCTAD report, TrainForTrade case studies in South-East Asia.

Seven policy recommendations

Based on lessons learned, UNCTAD offers seven recommendations to boost e-commerce readiness in the region:

  1. Holistic approach: Harnessing the potential of the digital economy requires inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  2. Internet access: The digital economy can’t take off unless the majority of the population has access to affordable and reliable internet services.
  3. Trade infrastructure: Products may be sold online but they have to be delivered offline. A successful digital economy requires efficient trade procedures and logistics infrastructure.
  4. Mobile payments: A mobile phone is a gateway to the internet but also a tool for cashless payments. Governments must improve digital financial literacy among the population.
  5. Update legal frameworks: E-commerce requires updated laws and regulations related to e-transactions, consumer and date protection, intellectual property and cybercrime, among others.
  6. Capacity-building: There is a significant need to build relevant skills among the population, businesses and government agencies to enable active participation in the digital economy.
  7. Innovation: New solutions are needed to improve access to financing, especially for medium-sized and small businesses, which are the backbone of local economies and thus must also make the switch to digital.
Source/Image Credit: UNCTAD