Developing countries should grasp the rapidly growing opportunity of electronic commerce - e-commerce - worth around $22.1 trillion in 2015, up 38 per cent from 2013, or risk falling quickly behind, UNCTAD said on Monday at the launch of a new e-commerce initiative.
The new initiative, called "eTrade for All", brings international organizations, donors and businesses under one umbrella, easing developing country access to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding.
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 2 per cent 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, ahead of the initiative's launch at UNCTAD 14.
E-commerce includes both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), respectively valued at around $19.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion each, according to the new UNCTAD data. This trade is mostly domestic, but is becoming more and more international.
The new UNCTAD 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, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation have also all moved into the top 10 e-commerce markets (see table).