E-commerce in Pakistan to reach $1 billion  

E-commerce in Pakistan to reach $1 billion  

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Minister for Commerce Khurran Dastgir Khan has said e-commerce in Pakistan is expected to reach $1 billion by 2020.

"Our legislature is working hard to update the rules and regulations governing digital trade," he said while inaugurating a seminar on "E-commerce for Development" in Geneva, according to a message received here.

The seminar organized by Pakistan, was attended by a large number of World Trade Organization (WTO) members and ambassadors.

All heads of agencies greatly appreciated the initiative taken by Pakistan. It was coordinated by Dr Tauqir Shah, Pakistan's Ambassador at WTO.

The group comprises Costa Rica, Nigeria , Kenya, Sri Lanka, Argentina and Uruguay.

Country experience from Sri Lanka, Argentina, Nigeria, Pakistan, ASEAN, were presented and debated.

Representatives of world bank, WTO Etrade for all, EBay, Alibaba, Mercado Libre, made presentations on how commerce and help businesses and trade in developing and less developed countries Pakistan leads "Commerce for development " debate at WTO.

Pakistan efforts for making Commerce developing world friendly lauded.

Speaking on the occasion, Khurram Dastgir Khan said commerce was an inescapable fact of life, it has grown beyond our imagination.

The digital economy, he said has emerged as an unstoppable giant that was growing at 10 percent a year, more than triple the rate of overall global economic growth.

"Digital is no longer a part of the economy - it is becoming----the economy.Internet revolution contributes 8% of global GDP, The development of mobile broad band holds the promises to brings billions more on line, thus narrowing the digital, economic, physical and educational divide, The internet of things or internet of everything has the potential of contributing $11 Trillion to global GDP by 2025".

The commerce minister said internet related consumption and expenditure has already surpassed the size of the global agriculture and energy sectors. But only a small proportion of this is happening in LDCs and developing countries.

He added that it was this reality which motivated our group of like-minded countries to launch, Friends of Commerce for Development.

Key motivation being to narrow the knowledge gap, that exists between members in understanding and appreciating different dimensions of Commerce, he remarked.

The Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said, seminar was first major initiative of Friends of Ecommerce for Development, rather I would say it is a joint initiative of "Friends" of Friends of Ecommerce for Development.

This event has only been possible through exemplary support of  OWTO, UNCTAD, ITC, World Bank and all members of the group namely Costa Rica, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Kenya.

"We welcome on board, Uruguay our new partner. A ALadies and gentlemen, an over view of today's agenda clearly acknowledges two things, Ecommerce is multidimensional and multi-agency and it requires very close private public partnership, and inter agency coordination", he remarked.

He added that the prime objective of this seminar was to debate the opportunities and challenges offered by Ecommerce for LDCs, Land Locked Countries and Small Island economies in particular, and Developing countries in general.

Khurram said that considering the complexities of e-commerce, "we need more engaged and structured discussions in form of seminars and workshops, so that members particularly developing and LDCs get better understanding of challenges and opportunities associated with e-Commerce and identify areas of work catering for their interests.

We would specially suggest more engaged interaction between experts in the technologies, and how they impact trade and trade negotiators in order to bring out and understand all the challenges associated with digital economy for developing and LDC members".

He said that "We the Friends of Ecommerce for Development believe, that e-commerce provides an opportunity for developing country and LDC enterprises to overcome some of the logistical and geographic challenges they face in terms of access to markets.

A ADigital trade allows many small enterprises to participate in the global market. E-commerce and MSMES are inextricably linked".

"Used well, e-commerce is a real development tool, an enabler", he remarked.

The commerce minister said the vital link between trade and development was enshrined in the WTO agreements; they provide special provisions for developing countries, which comprise of almost 75% of WTO membership.

He added that the WTO has provided more and more developing countries with a seat at the table - where their voice is heard just as loud as any other, and they play a key role in managing the system, shaping its agenda, and negotiating its agreements.

A AThe development dimension is essential for an inclusive rules-based Multilateral Trading System.

"Ultimate aims of trade policy and trade rules must be poverty reduction, growth, welfare and development that work for all members of the global economy", he remarked.

Khurram Dastgir said that the internet, more than anything else will define the 21st century business environment, in present day and age people no more go on line, they are 24/7 online.

"By end of year-- half of world's population will be on line, in developed world 80% use internet, but only 40% in developing and less than 15% in LDCs are online", he remarked.

Pakistan, he said was acutely aware of the high growth of e- commerce , and its potential to address development deficit. During last two years, after auction of 3G/4G spectrum, the consumers using Broad band on mobile, have increased from 3 to 37 million.

"Our broadband penetration rate is doubling every single year since 2013. The Global Findex report shows Pakistan as the leader in mobile banking transactions in South Asia, having 133 million mobile phone subscribers and 11% of them use mobile phones to carry out financial transactions. E-commerce in Pakistan is expected to reach $1 billion by 2020. Our legislature is working hard to update the rules and regulations governing digital trade", he remarked.

Khurram Dastgir said that in a national consultation held last month in Pakistan, "our stakeholders said "we have missed the plastic phase of ecommerce revolution; we cannot afford to miss the mobile digital phase of ecommerce". They identified efficient, frictionless and low cost payment systems and consumer trust and protection as key to Ecommerce in Pakistan", he remarked.O  )

Khurram said that "We are in an era where people no longer go on line; they are 24/7 on line. Destiny of our society is digital. Internet is the most important infrastructure of our time, rather it is infrastructure of infrastructures. Internet is a Global Good, and a Global Common. The challenge is how to mutually benefit from this Global Good that is Internet, and its role in Trade".

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan said in "our view, Internet giants have too much influence and market share, and the ability to quash local competitors. We have to consider that global digital platforms do not abuse their dominant position.

The P 5 or superpowers of 21st Century  are Amazon, Google, Facebook, Ebay and Alibaba".

He added that promoting fair competition between online and offline services was critical for developing countries.

The gains from the digital revolution, he said have not been shared widely.

"Digital technologies can be transformational by promoting inclusion, efficiency, and innovation, but if digital economy is not accessible, affordable and open, it will result in inequality, control and concentration," he remarked.

The commerce minister said there were huge challenges facing developing and transition economies in reaping the gains from e-commerce.

These challenges, he said included poor infrastructure, inadequate logistics, low adoption rates of information and communications technology, outdated legal and regulatory frameworks, and lack of payment solutions and financing, and huge national deficit in digital skills needed for e-economy.

"The UNCTAD index clearly shows that the capacity and ability to engage successfully in e-Commerce varies significantly among countries," he remarked.

The commerce minister said a key domestic challenge was that Ecommerce requires integral view and multi-agency and multi- stakeholder approach.

"After the Etrade for All launch, when I did a national stock take, I found no focal agency responsible for Ecommerce. We have now set up an Ecommerce Policy Unit in the Ministry of Commerce, A National Advisory Council on Ecommerce, with substantial private sector representation, and recently our Prime Minister set up a

National Ecommerce Policy Board, headed by Finance Minister with Ministries of IT, Commerce, Central Bank and Federal Board of Revenue as Members", he remarked.

He added that a key lesson was that ecommerce requires new institutional architecture and traditional institutions won't work.

"We have with us today--- heads of all the major Trade related Geneva Institutions, and look forward to an enriching discourse on Ecommerce and Development", he remarked.

Roberto Azevedo DG WTO, Houlin Zhao Secretary General ITU, Dr Kituyi Secretary General UNCTAD, and arancha Gonzalez Executive Director of international trade center participated in the event organized by Pakistan as founding coordinator of Friends of Ecommerce for development .

Heads of leading Geneva based trade institutions also attended the seminar.