Some days ago I presented at CSIS a new paper, Aid for eTrade – Accelerating the Global eCommerce Revolution, that I wrote as CSIS Adjunct Fellow with the support of eBay.
The paper argues that a quiet revolution is taking place in international trade without government policy direction or much public fanfare: the rise of cross-border online trade as individuals and businesses of all sizes engage in trade by selling goods and services online. Lowering the costs for companies to trade across borders, ecommerce holds extraordinary potential for expanding global trade, promoting small business exports and entrepreneurship in the United States and around the world, and boosting export diversification and international development. Yet much of the world and most businesses are still not connected to the web. In addition, several of the countries that have relatively good information and communications technology (ICT) capabilities and Internet usage rates struggle to translate their connectedness into exports and economic gains. What is more, numerous new policy barriers to ecommerce and the global digital economy are cropping up, such as data protectionism.
The working paper proposes forward-looking policies and programs to overcome these challenges and accelerate developing nations’ transition to the digital era and ecommerce. Such policies and programs can be grouped under a coherent framework and initiative, “Aid for eTrade.” Aid for eTrade as proposed here is a close cousin of the global Aid for Trade initiative, which has over the past decade channeled more than $200 billion in bilateral and multilateral trade-related assistance to developing nations. Aid for eTrade has two main legs: (1) $100 billion in public and private investments in 2015-2020 in information technologies, computerization, e-training, and ecommerce-related logistics and capacity-building in developing countries; and (2) robust technical assistance for governments around the world to establish policies and regulatory frameworks conducive to unfettered cross-border ecommerce. While Aid for eTrade would most immediate benefit developing nations, it can also be a powerful catalyst of U.S. small business exports.
Link to event site is here; you can watch event video here: