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Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017

Promoting Trade, Inclusiveness and Connectivity for Sustainable Development

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This edition of Aid for Trade at a Glance focuses on trade connectivity, which is critical for economic growth, inclusiveness and sustainable development. Physical connectivity enables the movement of goods and services to local, regional and global markets. It is closely intertwined with digital connectivity which is vital in today’s trade environment. Yet, the Internet remains inaccessible for 3.9 billion people globally, many of whom live in the least developed countries.

This report builds on the analysis of trade costs and extends it into the digital domain, reflecting the changing nature of trade. It seeks to identify ways to support developing countries – and notably the least developed – in realising the gains from trade. It reviews action being taken by a broad range of stakeholders to promote connectivity for sustainable development, including by governments, their development partners and by the private sector. One message that emerges strongly is that participation in e-commerce requires much more than a simple internet connection.

Chapters were prepared by the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and Business for eTrade Development.

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Public-private priorities for aid for trade in the digital era

The enabling environment for digital trade is suboptimal in many developing countries, impeding the translation of new technologies into trade and growth. Yet there are huge gaps in the data available on private sector views, and on systematic public-private collaboration. This chapter discusses the findings from interviews with companies engaged in e-commerce to shed light on the challenges of the enabling environment for digital trade. It examines data that show that trade finance, logistics, and digital regulations are often suboptimal, making it difficult for developing country companies to engage in cross-border e-commerce. It provides highlights of various projects being championed by the private sector to cultivate e-commerce worldwide, including among women and rural entrepreneurs. The chapter proposes innovative solutions to these challenges and highlights ways of operationalising public-private partnerships in e-commerce development, as well as fresh ways of financing them, such as social impact bonds. It maps out policy pathways to overcome the challenges to e-commerce.

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