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E-com can encourage intra-South Asia trade: World Bank

20
Dec '19
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
E-commerce can drive growth across South Asia and boost trade in the region, but its potential remains largely untapped, according to a new World Bank report, which notes Increasing the use of e-commerce by consumers and firms in South Asia could potentially help boost competition and firm productivity, and encourage diversification of production and exports.

Though e-commerce has grown significantly in South Asia., online sales accounted for a mere 1.6 per cent and 0.7 per cent of total retail sales in India and Bangladesh, compared to 15 per cent in China and around 14 per cent globally, the report, titled ‘Unleashing E-Commerce for South Asian Integration’, notes.

Like the European Union’s Digital Single market proposal, South Asia could aspire to have a regionally integrated business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce market, the report suggested.

A survey of over 2,200 firms in South Asia showed that the top concerns on cross-border e-commerce sales included e-commerce related logistics, e-commerce and digital regulations, and connectivity and information technology infrastructure. These barriers are significantly higher when trading with other South Asian countries.

The main international e-partners of firms in South Asia are China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and not other South Asian countries.

Small and medium enterprises in the region reported that removing regulatory and logistical challenges to e-commerce would increase their exports, employment, and productivity by as much as 30 per cent.

To overcome these hurdles, the report proposes reforms in areas such as payments, delivery, market access regulations, consumer protection, and data privacy, at the national, regional, and global levels. It also suggests an incremental approach to taking these steps, if necessary, to build confidence.

And apart from firms, consumers in South Asia stand to gain significantly from the potential reduction in costs and availability of a greater variety of e-traded goods and services, the report adds.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)


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