Top Stories : Opening Remarks by the Delegation of Thailand H.E. Mr. Winichai Chaemchaeng, Vice Minister for Commerce, at a seminar during UNCTAD E-Commerce Week titled "Can E-Commerce Trade Rules Help MSMEs in Developing Countries" 27 April 2017, Geneva News

Top Stories : Opening Remarks by the Delegation of Thailand H.E. Mr. Winichai Chaemchaeng, Vice Minister for Commerce, at a seminar during UNCTAD E-Commerce Week titled "Can E-Commerce Trade Rules Help MSMEs in Developing Countries" 27 April 2017, Geneva

Opening Remarks by the Delegation of Thailand
H.E. Mr. Winichai Chaemchaeng,
Vice Minister for Commerce,
at a seminar during UNCTAD E-Commerce Week titled "Can E-Commerce Trade Rules Help MSMEs in Developing Countries"
27 April 2017, Geneva

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

       It is my pleasure to be here with you today for this lunch panel on              e-commerce trade rules and MSMEs in developing countries organized by ASEAN. We hope that the discussions today will also help to inform some of the ongoing discussions on e-commerce at the WTO.

       E-commerce represents a significant and growing segment of international trade. According to eMarketer (a leader in market research for digital economy issues), e-commerce sales worldwide have been increasing steadily. This trend is especially prevalent in developing countries. The OECD observed that "e-commerce has already had a major impact on international business practices, changing how transactions are initiated and managed and how relations unfold between buyers and sellers. It has blurred the differences between time zones; with the Internet, production and trade can be conducted around the clock and across the continents."

       E-commerce has enabled the incorporation of more people and businesses into the economy, and can be used as a tool towards fulfilling development goals. It has significantly lowered barriers to entry and operating costs for businesses, particularly for MSMEs. MSMEs are an important engine of economic growth for developing countries. According to the World Bank, MSMEs contribute up to          45 percent of total employment and up to 33 percent of national income (GDP)          in emerging economies. In ASEAN, MSMEs account for 98% of all businesses[1].          Some of the common problems face by MSMEs trying to trade includes lack of access to finance and marketing platforms. In this regard, innovation in e-commerce has allowed MSMEs to overcome these hurdles (e.g. fintech, online marketplaces such as eBay, taobao) and grow to reach a wider customer base.

Ladies and Gentlemen

While e-commerce can help MSMEs increase their participation in world trade,        there are also various challenges that have to be overcome, particularly                in developing countries. These include online fraud prevention, online consumer protection, availability of e-payment systems, data localisation, lack of capacity to create an enabling domestic environment, and lack of infrastructure. In this regard, there is potential for the ongoing international trade discourse on e-commerce          to help facilitate and alleviate some of these problems. By providing predictability, e-commerce trade rules could also potentially increase consumers’ confidence, which will lead to more consumers/customers going online; and as a result,      increase customer base and market access for the MSMEs involved.

       ASEAN member countries have recognised the importance of e-commerce and we have incorporated it into our ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025. The priorities we have identified include harmonizing consumer rights and protection laws, harmonizing legal framework for online dispute resolution, developing electronic signature schemes and developing of personal data protection in order to protect and promote interests of consumers and businesses, as well as to tackle challenges arising from increasing cross-border e-commerce trade. We believe that the development of trade rules and an enabling regulatory environment in relation to e-commerce within the ASEAN Economic Community context will benefit all stakeholders and facilitate the growth of MSMEs in the region.

       As for Thailand, we have undertaken various initiatives to inspire confidence within the e-commerce arena. The Ministry of Commerce, the Department of Business Development issues "DBD sure" logo to trusted online sellers and the Department of International Trade Promotion establishes "ThaiTrade.com" as a certified platform for e-commerce where Thai MSMEs can register to trade globally.  I am honoured to note that the website won the World Summit on the Information Society Prize 2016 under capacity building category hosted by the International Telecommunication Union under the United Nations. On the whole, these are just some of the examples Thailand has undertaken and proven to be successful          in integrating more MSMEs into the E-Commerce business arena. We would like       to encourage others to explore similar measures and would be honoured to share experience and learning - curve on development of these supporting programme        to those interested.

       Today, many successful MSMEs no longer require brick and mortar stores       to sell their goods and services and have adapted accordingly to online trading platform. Therefore, it is important for the governments to catch up,             working together with its stakeholders, to continue to create an enabling regulatory environment for e-commerce. This also includes working together on                  the multilateral and regional fronts to identify gaps and explore how trade rules could help to plug these gaps so that our MSMEs can tap on the vast opportunities presented by e-commerce.

Thank you



[1] Source: http://asean.org/asean-korea-centre-builds-asean-msmes-capacity/