A report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development evaluates implementation measures taken in response to recommendations made in seven policy areas, as part of a programme that aims to identify and address challenges to the development of e-commerce, primarily in least developed countries.
Implementation of the eTrade Readiness Assessment Programme by countries evaluated is moving at varying speeds: overall, payment solutions, ICT infrastructure and services, and legal and regulatory framework feature the highest implementation rates, whereas access to finance shows the lowest rate.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published its first comprehensive review of its eTrade Readiness Assessment Programme. Initiated in 2017, the programme aims to identify and address challenges to the development of e-commerce, primarily in least developed countries (LDCs).
Titled, ‘Fast-tracking implementation of eTrade Readiness Assessments,’ the report evaluates implementation measures taken in response to earlier recommendations made in seven policy areas:
- E-commerce readiness and strategy formulation;
- Information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and services;
- Trade facilitation and logistics;
- Legal and regulatory framework;
- Payment solutions;
- Skills development; and
- Access to financing.
The recommendations are borne of the demand-driven eTrade readiness assessments themselves, which provide an overview of the beneficiary country’s e-commerce ecosystem. Out of 18 countries that had assessments completed by June 2019, the report focuses on and scores 13 that responded to a comprehensive analytical questionnaire, in order to better understand progress made in each.
The report shows that implementation of the recommendations is moving at varying speeds. The overall implementation rate stands at 50%, with Cambodia, Togo, Senegal, and Myanmar ranking as the best performers. By policy area, payment solutions, ICT infrastructure and services, and legal and regulatory framework feature the highest implementation rates.
Access to finance shows the lowest rate of implementation, and all but one respondent country noted that funding shortages are a major bottleneck that hinders implementation of the other eTrade recommendations. Other challenges include weak institutional capacities and policy coordination mechanisms, despite the commitment and intentions of the beneficiary countries to translate the recommendations into action.
To enable and sustain implementation efforts, UNCTAD recommends that beneficiary countries, among other actions:
- Mainstream eTrade recommendations throughout implementation mechanisms of national development strategies;
- Establish a steering committee to enhance policy coordination;
- Identify champions within the public and private sectors that can take part in the steering committee and drive progress on the seven policy areas; and
- Utilize the eTrade Ready Action Matrix to mobilize support and catalyze development partners’ commitments.
The countries whose progress and actions are described in the report are Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Senegal, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia in Africa; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Myanmar, and Nepal in Asia; and Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu in the Pacific Islands region. Out of these 18 countries, Samoa is the only non-LDC.
In the past three years, 27 eTrade readiness assessments have been conducted out of 43 country requests received. [Publication: Fast-tracking implementation of eTrade Readiness] [UNCTAD Publication Landing Page]