E-commerce has been growing rapidly in recent years, supported by the development of new digital technologies, improvements in logistics and distribution services and changes in consumer preferences. During 2020, e-commerce further accelerated because of national lockdowns. Digital trade helped to underpin economic activity during the pandemic, permitting companies and households to buy goods and services online. Looking forward, the prospects for e-commerce to support economic recovery and global trade growth depend on addressing several challenges, including putting in place a multilateral framework to facilitate digital trade and e-commerce and supporting access and delivery in e-commerce markets for all firms, independent of size or location.
Ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on e-commerce and WTO agreements on trade in services and trade facilitation provide a basis for defining a set of common, agreed principles. G20 member states can give new impetus to e-commerce by agreeing to facilitate cross-border data flows, removing policies that discriminate against small firms and small consignments, and launching initiatives to support the inclusion of innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in global digital trade markets.
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (EUI)
University of Colorado
World Economic Forum
Politecnico di Milano and Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale (ISPI)
Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale (ISPI)