By Rosemary Onuoha, in Geneva

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, has said that the digital economy is evolving fast even as global internet traffic was 66 times higher in 2019 than in 2005.

Accordingly, developing countries should not close their eyes but rather rethink policies that will enable their states to embrace e-commerce because it is the future of trade, the agency said.

Addressing journalists at an information seminar on international trade policy organized by the World Trade Organization, WTO, in conjunction with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES, in Geneva Switzerland, UNCTAD noted that e-commerce will give developing countries greater participation in global market and value chains as well as empower the women.

The Economic  Affairs  Officer,  ICT  Policy  Section,  UNCTAD, Cécile Barayre, who disclosed this, noted that e-commerce, however, poses risks such as widening digital divide with increased income inequality, elimination of jobs and tasks due to automation.

She however said that the impacts depend on the readiness of countries, enterprises and the people to take advantage of digitalization.

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She stated: “Preparing for the digital economy requires a concerted, holistic, cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach to policymaking. Going  digital  requires fundamental  reforms  and  rethinking  of  policies  across  several  ministries such as Ministry  of  Trade/Commerce, Ministry  of  Justice, Ministry  of  Finance, Ministry  of  Economy, Ministry  of  Communication/ICT, Ministry  of  Rural  Development, Ministry  of  Science,  Technology and  Innovation, as well as Ministry  of  Interior.”

According to her, E-commerce is a good opportunity for developing countries to boost their trade partnerships despite that the terrain could still be challenging for them, however, they should always bring their issues to the table and seek for technical assistance.

“Developing countries should establish legal, institutional and policy frameworks, as well as effective national strategies, to leverage the dynamism of e-commerce, whether via the internet, mobile telephones or cloud computing. Developing countries, including Least Developed Countries, LDCs, require better access to reliable statistics on the digital economy. It is also important for policymakers to receive evidence-based guidance on the design of sound policies and to learn from best practices in securing development gains from e-commerce and the digital economy,” she said.

 

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