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Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017

Promoting Trade, Inclusiveness and Connectivity for Sustainable Development

image of Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017

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.

English French, Spanish

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Spanning the internet divide to drive development

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are key building blocks of the digital economy, to facilitate trade and drive e-commerce. Strong growth in ICT infrastructure, connectivity, access and use promise great development opportunities but the full potential of the Internet remains untapped, as over half the world’s population remains offline. Unless policy-makers address infrastructure, affordability but also broader socio-economic challenges outside the ICT ecosystem, the Internet is liable to reinforce existing inequalities, instead of addressing them. This chapter analyses progress but also the gaps that exist in developing countries—and in particular the least developed countries—in terms of infrastructure, connectivity and quality of service, particularly for mobile and fixed-broadband Internet. It addresses some key connectivity bottlenecks and points to recommendations to overcome these. The chapter looks at fixed- and mobile- broadband prices, and the affordability of services in developed and developing regions. In addition to addressing supply-side barriers, it examines demand-side barriers outside the ICT ecosystem, including broader socio-economic inequalities, digital and analogue skills, and the availability of relevant local content.

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