“Covid-19 and E-Commerce”

A study on impact on businesses and policy responses.

Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease pandemic, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) aims to raise awareness of the opportunities emerging from the crisis through increasing the uptake of e-commerce and digital solutions. At the same time, it has voiced concerns about the risk of rising digital inequalities, particularly in the least developed countries (LDCs).

The study is based on the results of a survey that investigated the impact of Covid-19 on e-commerce businesses from early March to the end of July 2020. It focuses on 23 countries, mainly LDCs, in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Most of the survey respondents presented in this study are from countries that have benefitted from an eTrade Readiness Assessment. Some others have been involved in the eTrade for Women initiative or sought UNCTAD assistance in developing an e-commerce strategy.

A total of 257 representatives of e-commerce businesses – out of 699 invited – responded to the survey and shared their experience following the pandemic‘s outbreak. Businesses have been divided into two groups: companies selling at least parts of their goods or services online and third-party online marketplaces. The responses from the private sector were complemented by public sector responses from 12 countries, elaborating on measures taken during the Covid-19 crisis to support e-commerce as well as to use this type of business activity for economic recovery efforts.

According to UNCTAD, the study highlights how successful initiatives at the country level, building on public-private cooperation, have been crucial in responding well to the crisis and limiting its adverse impacts. It would showcase the policy measures that the private sector has found the most impactful to empower Covid-19 recovery strategies.

“At the same time, it sheds new light on how the pandemic has reinforced pre-existing bottlenecks in the e-commerce ecosystems,” UNCTAD emphasized. “To conclude, this study reiterates the importance of mobilizing more international support and national commitment towards reforms, as well as investments, in key policy areas to enhance developing countries’ digital readiness for e-commerce.”


(Published in GLOBAL RECYCLING Magazine 1/2021, Page 6, Source/Photo: United Nations)