Entrepreneurs and small business must be included in the e-commerce revolution, UNCTAD Secretary General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi has said.
Dr Kituyi hs stated that the inclusion of entrepreneurs and small businesses in e-commerce would create employment opportunities thus improving the livelihoods of a majority of marginalized people.
“With the global economy now in its sixth sluggish year of growth, many are hoping that e-commerce can generate the jobs and livelihoods that more traditional work has been unable to provide,” said Dr Kituyi ahead of a meeting on small business and e-Trade taking place in New York.
Last year, the global market for electronic commerce was worth around $22.1 trillion, up 38 per cent from 2013.
“E-commerce is a train that has left the station and is quickly gathering speed,” said the Secretary General. “The challenge is to get as many people aboard this train as possible, so that e-commerce can usefully contribute to inclusive growth,” he added, referring to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and goal 8 in particular.
Dr. Kituyi was speaking ahead of a high-level forum, titled “Empowering SMEs through e-Trade and Investment Facilitation” at the UN Headquarters in New York yesterday.
He confirmed that the conversation will look at ways to engage entrepreneurs and small business in the e-trade revolution.
“By connecting untapped markets through internet and mobile network platforms, online commerce can allow entrepreneurs and small business to produce and trade goods and services, source inputs, reach customers and clients, and connect to global and regional value chains,” he explained.
However, Mukhisa warned that a huge gap is opening up between countries and firms that are able to exploit these opportunities and those that cannot.
“Existing platforms and rules for global trade are skewed towards the interests of large corporations, leaving few opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises,” he lamented.
The conversation takes place just two months after UNCTAD’s work on e-commerce made a significant leap forward with the July launch of the ‘e-Trade for All’ initiative at the UNCTAD 14 Conference recently held in Nairobi.
The initiative brings together 15 international organizations and 22 private sector actors together, easing developing country access to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding.
The initiative also supports the December 2015 call by the UN General Assembly to better use information and communication technology to achieve the SDGs.
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