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EDD19 - Unlocking digital opportunities: promoting e-commerce for inclusive trade growth

Posted on: June 14, 2019

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The 2019 European Development Days (EDD) will focus on "Addressing inequalities: building a world which leaves no one behind". The Event will take place at Tour&Taxis in Brussels on the 18-19 June 2019.

In the spirit of cooperation, the EU-ACP TradeCom II Programme, ACP Secretariat, CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation), COLEACP, The Commonwealth Secretariat and Organisation International de la Francofonie (OIF), will jointly organise the Lab session around the theme “Unlocking digital opportunities: promoting e-commerce for inclusive trade growth”.

The spirit of the discussions will revolve around responding to the question: Can the digital economy deliver on its aim of inclusiveness, leaving no one behind, and seek to provide related solutions for ACP countries, specifically small-Island and land-locked economies?

The digitalization of the global economy is increasingly gaining terrain as the use of modern technologies is catapulting global exchanges into new dimensions. Developing countries, and specifically, ACP countries, can also leapfrog into global prosperity through E-commerce in the digital age. However, they face inherent challenges of a weak private sector, high trade costs and lack of the availability of trade data in order to bolster opportunities for SMEs and boost intra-regional trade.

E-commerce is seen as a catalyst to boosting exports to foreign markets, and also to tap into foreign supply chains, supporting entrepreneurship and promoting the integration of MSMEs into value chains so as to become global entities. However, to do so, many developing countries require more time and policy space to implement these requirements in a proper manner. Moreover, many ACP countries are taking a precautionary approach to E-commerce in general. Therefore, arises the problematic of how to make future trade more inclusive for Small States, LDCs, ACP countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, and more equal for women and young entrepreneurs. How sustainable is technology-enabled trade and is the risk of displacement of slower-paced developing countries real, as a result of their limited access to global value chains, markets and technology. For the time being, there is a concentration of data intensive companies in the developed world and some companies are already reaping the benefits of the digital age, while most developing countries lag behind.

Panellists, including the ACP Secretary General, H.E. Patrick I. Gomes, Shamika Sirimanne, (UNCTAD), H.E. Mere Falemaka (PIFS), Viwanou Gnassounou (ACP Secretariat), Carla Montesi (EC DG DevCo), Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu (Tony Elumelu Foundation), William Babigumira (Pentascope Strategy Consult Ltd), moderated by Axel Pougin de la Maisonneuve (EC DG DevCo), will debate on the questions that underlie discussions around digital trade and developing, in particular:

  • How to apprehend the existence of technical gaps among global economies countries and its impact on the existence of gender disparity?
  • The digital revolution implies an intellectual and structural revolution and this is the bottom line for ACP countries – how quickly can they transition into software and dematerialisation that characterise the types of services required by global digital trade?
  • Does equality in the digital age mean leaving no one behind?
  • Is the digitalization of the economy a double-edged sword?
  • E-commerce as a vector of or solution to inequality among states and within states?
  • How can e-commerce serve to promote inclusiveness for women and youth?

You are welcome to attend the Lab session the 18 June at 17:00 in the Room D5 and to follow #EDD19 and #ThinkTwice on Twitter.

Programme funded by European Union at the request of ACP Group - Implemented by AESA CONSORTIUM