E-commerce and LDCs: The different speeds of greater integration
Published 21 November 2023
The ongoing digital revolution opens new possibilities for least developed countries (LDCs) to further participate in cross-border trade, but LDCs are still significantly lagging in their share of digital services exports. To promote their inclusion in the increasingly digitalized global economy, policymakers must first acknowledge their different speeds and pathways in digital connectivity.
LDCs are at a pivotal juncture in their journey to digital transformation. The rapid global evolution of e-commerce, driven by technological advancement and changing trade dynamics, offers exciting opportunities for LDCs to increase their share of digitally delivered services exports.
However, LDCs exhibit considerable heterogeneity in their digital readiness, with challenges ranging from inadequate infrastructure to the lack of enabling regulatory environment. Their limited participation in major e-commerce rulemaking negotiations at the regional and international levels further underscores this disparity.
In this study funded by the Hinrich Foundation's research grant, Yasmin Ismail and Galal Hammoud of CUTS International examine LDCs’ multifaceted digital divide and the challenges to their quest to promote e-commerce adoption and further their involvement in e-commerce rules setting. Only a collaborative approach that recognizes the unique potential of each LDC could lead to their meaningful integration into the global e-commerce ecosystem, the authors say.
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