Estonia’s state-founded e-residency programme has joined the new international initiative, called “eTrade for All”, that brings international organisations, donors and businesses under one umbrella, easing developing country access to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding.
The initiative was launched on 18 July at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Nairobi, Kenya. “Developing countries should grasp the rapidly growing opportunity of electronic commerce – e-commerce – worth around [USD]22.1 trillion in 2015, up 38 per cent from 2013, or risk falling quickly behind,” UNCTAD said in a statement.
“By providing new opportunities and new markets, online commerce can help generate economic opportunities, including jobs. But while more than 70 per cent 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. A huge divide is opening between countries that are exploiting those opportunities and those that are not,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.
E-commerce includes both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), respectively valued at around USD19.9 trillion and USD2.2 trillion each, according to the new UNCTAD data. This trade is mostly domestic, but is becoming more and more international.
The 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, South Korea and Russia have also all moved into the top 10 e-commerce markets.
The eTrade for All initiative will support developing countries which express an interest in boosting their online commerce 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.
“eTrade for All draws on a pool of expertise that symbolises the collaboration we need to advance the United Nation’s sustainable development agenda,” Kaspar Korjus, the e-residency programme director, said. “It is this vision of shared prosperity that has led us to become part of this initiative.”
Apart from UNCTAD and Estonia’s e-residency programme, other organisations engaged in the eTrade for All initiative include the African Development Bank, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization.
UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The Estonian e-residency programme allows anyone in the world to become a digital resident of Estonia.
Cover: Traditional dancers at the UNCTAD opening ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, on 17 July 2016 (courtesy of UN/Joseph Kiptarus)