Okonjo-Iweala calls for adoption of e-commerce to grow economy, create jobs
Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said yesterday the international community has a collective responsibility to help members harness the full potential of the digital economy for economic growth, job creation and trade diversification.
She said this at a workshop held under the Work Programme on e-Commerce as a follow-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference’s decision to reinvigorate the programme, particularly regarding its development dimension.
The workshop provided an opportunity for WTO members, including Nigeria, to exchange views with international organisations on cross cutting issues under the work programme identified by members in the past few months.
In particular, the workshop looked at work carried out at the international level on consumer protection, the digital divide, the moratorium on imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions and legal/regulatory frameworks on e-commerce.
Okonjo-Iweala said members were engaging substantively on broad e-commerce-related issues with a development focus and are important to better understand the challenges and opportunities of digital trade.
Noting the dramatic growth in services delivered across borders via digital networks, she estimates that global exports of digitally delivered services grew by 8.1 per cent per year between 2005 and 2022, much higher than the 5.6 per cent growth registered for goods exports.
Highlighting the role of e-commerce in driving growth and trade as well as in creating jobs for women and youths, she stressed that development-related challenges are preventing members from fully maximising the benefits of digital trade.
“Many countries are still lagging due to poor connectivity, outdated physical and digital infrastructure, inadequate digital financial services, deficiencies in digital literacy and skills, weak legal and regulatory frameworks, or any combination of these factors,” she revealed.
General Council Chair, WTO, Amb. Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme said members noted the need to improve cooperation with other intergovernmental organisations.