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Diana Korka, UNCTAD Division on Technology and LogisticsOn March 21, the Vi organized a videoconference presentation for 52 students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, a Russian affiliate member. 

Diana Korka, from UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics, delivered a presentation to discuss the opportunities and challenges of e-commerce for development. The presentation was also attended by Ulin Denis, Deputy Director of the Department of Europe, North America and international organizations from the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

 “Since the first meeting of the World Information Society in Geneva in 2003 and its follow up in Tunis in 2005 the international community has committed to make the benefits of ICTs and e-commerce available for all”, Korka recalled.

“Today there is renewed interest in E-commerce” she said. The private sector and the trade community are now taking into consideration the significant growth potential of e-commerce in developing and transition economies. “International trade is sluggish, but international data flows are exploding” she mentioned. “In 2017 the G20 has also placed a great deal of attention on digital trade” she added.

“The adoption of new technologies makes new business models possible, which in turn raises a number of development policy questions on aspects such as employment, employment conditions, tax compliance, barriers to trade, investment, competitiveness, productivity and emerging divides”. Amazon, Uber, Upwork and Airbnb are among the examples of the emerging online platforms and new ways of doing business.

E-commerce can have a tremendous impact on sustainable development, bringing both opportunities and threats. E-commerce can reduce trade costs and boost competitiveness. At the same time consumers need to be protected online and governments should be able to collect due taxes.

Korka highlighted UNCTAD's role to help developing countries grasp the $22 trillion e-commerce opportunity (see: http://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=1281).

“UNCTAD's new initiative called eTrade for All brings international organizations, donors and businesses at the discussion table to help bolster technical assistance on e-commerce for sustainable development.  “In addition, UNCTAD provides technical assistance to developing countries and performs research and analysis on the topic”, she added. The latest issue of the UNCTAD Information Report 2015 was dedicated to e-commerce and its potential for development (http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=1146).

Korka ended the presentation by inviting the audience to attend the upcoming UNCTAD E-commerce Week, to be held between 24-28 April in Geneva at the Palais des Nations (http://unctad.org/e-week2017). The event will be attended by more than 400 delegates from some 65 member states and represents a unique opportunity for governments, businesses, international organizations and civil society to get together and discuss how best to create more inclusive e-commerce opportunities.