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The biennial Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium, organised by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and held alongside the WTO ministerial conference for over a decade, is the leading multi-stakeholder platform for intellectual enquiry and dialogue on sustainable development and the global trade and investment system. It acts as an inclusive platform outside of the WTO negotiating setting for sharing ideas, engaging in dialogue, and influencing trade policy negotiations. Drawing in participants from government, business and civil society, the Symposium helps to maintain and elaborate a global vision of sustainable development in trade and investment policymaking.
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Monday, December 11 • 5:00pm - 6:30pm
E-commerce and MSMEs: Towards more inclusive trade

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E-commerce has opened a gateway of new opportunities for micro, small, medium and micro enterprises (MSMEs), to access international markets, find new sources of demand and build value through exposure to new technologies. Supported by social media, digital promotion and e-commerce platforms, MSMEs can promote their products and services to professional buyers and consumers across the world, and build a name for themselves beyond their geographical borders.

Evidence reveals that, in relative terms, women entrepreneurs are significantly more active in  e-commerce than in traditional trade. E-commerce therefore has a strong potential to contribute to closing the gender gap in international trade.

Developing countries are taking advantage of e-commerce and e-solutions. According to GSMA, an association of mobile operators, by 2020 there will be more than 700 million smartphone connections in Africa, which is twice the projected number in North America and around the total in Europe. 

Beyond this optimistic picture there are challenges, especially for MSMEs in developing countries.  Significant barriers exist for these MSMEs to establish an online presence internationally, and opportunities are most often limited to the domestic market. Moreover, firm-level data show that there is a significant connectivity gap for women-owned or managed firms.

There are still far too few e-commerce platforms that operate internationally out of developing countries. Furthermore, logistics costs are relatively higher in developing countries, hindering e-commerce transactions from this group. These challenges matter, because e-commerce offers great potential to deliver economic growth, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, both for the MSMEs directly active in the business and in a wide range of supporting services. Absence from international e-commerce is a missed opportunity. It is an important component of modern competitiveness. 

Access to digital technologies underpins the ambitions behind many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – and e-commerce can be an important engine for inclusive economic growth, creating jobs for youth and empowering women. Being online levels the playing field when it comes to gender as the share of women-owned firms doubles when moving from traditional offline trade to cross-border e-commerce.

Findings from the ITC MSME E-Commerce Competitiveness Survey and ITC’s contribution to the Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017 on closing the small business and gender gap will be discussed during the session to illustrate the potential for a more inclusive e-commerce ecosystem for MSMEs and for women entrepreneurs in developing countries, and showcase how effective trade policy can help support this.

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avatar for Marion Jansen

Marion Jansen

Chief Economist, International Trade Centre
Marion Jansen is the Chief Economist of the International Trade Centre (ITC), responsible for ITC’s flagship publication “SME Competitiveness Outlook” and the institution’s recent publications on e-commerce. She also oversees ITC’s work on export strategies. Marion previously... Read More →

avatar for Chandrajit Banerjee

Chandrajit Banerjee

General Director, Confederation of Indian Industry
Chandrajit Banerjee has been with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for over 30 years and since 2008 as its Director General. He has led many CII initiatives on economic and industry related policies. He has also been working for the Indian Industry to enhance competitiveness... Read More →
avatar for Alexander Mora Delgado

Alexander Mora Delgado

Ministro, Ministerio de Comercio Exterior Costa Rica
Alexander Mora was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica on May 8 2014. As Foreign Trade Minister, Mr. Mora oversees Costa Rica´s foreign trade and investment portfolios, as well as the relationship with multilateral organizations like the WTO, OECD, SIECA, among others. Mr... Read More →
avatar for Arancha González

Arancha González

Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC)
Arancha González has served as Executive Director of ITC, the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, since September 2013. Before joining ITC, Ms. González was Chief of Staff to World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy from 2005 to 2013... Read More →
avatar for François Martins

François Martins

Manager for Government Relations and Public Policy, Mercado Libre
François Martins is Mercado Libre’s (NASDAQ:MELI) manager for Government Relations and Public Policy based in Brazil. François builds bridges between Mercado Libre’s business needs and the public sector's programmes and goals to achieve a better and sounder business environement... Read More →
avatar for Mr. Alioune Sarr

Mr. Alioune Sarr

Minister of Commerce, Informal Sector, Consumer Affairs, Promotion of Local Products and SMEs, Senegal
Before being appointed to the Government of Senegal, Mr. Alioune Sarr was Director General of the Senegalese Agency for Export Promotion (ASEPEX). In this position he launched major projects and conducted missions for the positioning of products and services “Made in Senegal... Read More →
avatar for Longyue Zhao

Longyue Zhao

Professor and Dean, School of International Governance Innovation, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Dr. Longyue Zhao is an experienced international economist in China. He currently is an University Professor and Dean of the School of International Governance Innovation at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. The School is focus on issues of the WTO, international rule making... Read More →

Monday December 11, 2017 5:00pm - 6:30pm GMT-03
Theater - San Martin Bolsa de Cereales, Buenos Aires, Argentina