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UNCTAD meet discusses digital trade regulation challenges

Apr '19
UNCTAD meet discusses digital trade regulation challenges
Representatives from governments and the industry grappled with the tension between digital trade regulation and ground realities of data collection and use at the United Nations Conference and Trade and Development (UNCTAD) e-Commerce Week ministerial roundtable on trade, data and digitalisation at the UN European headquarters in Geneva recently.

Rulemaking about data and e-commerce will need a balance between potential trade disciplines and national policy objectives, said UNCTAD deputy secretary general Isabelle Durant.

The rules also have knock-on effects across value chains, countries, consumers and all commerce, and those affect trust and illegal activities like hacking and data theft, according to an UNCTAD press release.

Apart from physical infrastructure, mobile money, and a better understanding of the informal economy, one of the biggest challenges in Africa is data, said the African Union’s (AU) infrastructure and energy commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid.

The lack of it, how it differs, and the inability to analyze it when it does exist, are all concerns, she said.

The AU is working to address the data issue and it would establish a trade observatory located within the AU Commission with funding from the International Trade Centre and the European Union, she said.

The observatory would deal with the issue of not having a central trade data repository at a continental level and quantitative information to make decisions.

An additional challenge is identifying how to process and analyse data in Africa, said Lantosoa Rakotomalala, Madagascar’s industry, trade and crafts minister.

Pedro Mancuello, Paraguay’s vice minister of trade, said while more that 86 per cent of people in Paraguay have internet, only 14.3 per cent buy online.

Getting online is a challenge for many, said Joãozinho Mendes of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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