UNCTAD GROUP URGES DEVELOPING WORLD TO FACILITATE E-COMMERCE
A group of electronic commerce experts convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has urged developing countries to upgrade their telecommunications and legal systems to facilitate electronic commerce in trade and transport.
“The experts re-emphasized the necessity and importance of capacity-building in developing countries with a view to introducing electronic commerce… and integrating developing countries into world trade,” the UNCTAD group of experts said in a report.
The group said that developments concerning electronic commerce and transport must be monitored regularly. It recommended that developing countries’ goverments encourage investment in information technology and transport infrastructure, including by entering into regional cooperation agreements. The group also advised that governments examine their legal regimes to streamline and adapt them to the requirements of electronic transactions, and suggested that governments “simplify administrative regulations and practices, in particular customs procedures, to facilitate electronic commerce and transport operations.”
The UNCTAD experts recommended that goverments, customs, port authorities, port communities and transport operators take measures to establish port community systems and logistics platforms.
The expert group’s report said that there are wide disparities amongst developing countries in their level of development of e-commerce.
“Experts from various developing countries noted that their problems relating to the greater use of electronic commerce concerned inadequate basic infrastructure, limited availability of computers, Internet access and transport and communication infrastructure, and lack of basic knowledge,” the report said.
The report also noted that the legal requirement in national laws and transport conventions for “written,” “signed” and “original” documents would constitute barriers to the development of e-commerce.
“Furthermore, the transport sector faced the particular challenge of replacing negotiable transport documents such as bills of lading with electronic alternatives,” the report added. The expert groups called for “a change in attitude and approach” by commercial parties involved in transport in relation to their documentary practices, and stressed that the use of non-negotiable documents would clearly facilitate the transition to e-commerce.