IOE and IT leads UNCTAD panel exploring e-commerce inclusivity

Fri 1 Dec 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Trade News


Next Thursday (7 December), the Institute of Export & International Trade’s (IOE&IT) director general Marco Forgione will chair an UNCTAD e-week panel.

Joined by Professor Sangeeta Khorana, academic board chair and international trade policy professor at Aston University, ‘Unlocking potential: Addressing inclusivity barriers in e-commerce trade to deliver sustainable impact in communities everywhere’ will explore barriers businesses face when trying to use e-commerce platforms and the potential for public private partnerships (PPPs) to promote adoption.

The E-Commerce Trade Commission, launched by IOE&IT in June with the aim of encouraging more SMEs to export through e-commerce, is an example of such a venture.

Looking ahead to eWeek, commission secretariat lead Susan Roe said the panel presents a great opportunity “to unpack some of the key challenges and obstacles that small businesses face with e-commerce”.

“It will also explore how a pan-global collaboration model across developed and developing countries can provide a powerful force to help increase exports.

“The panel brings together experts from the UK and the global south, and the discussion will offer an industry, academic and government perspective.”


The panel, organised by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and Shopify, will also feature representation from non-profits, such as Daniele Tricarico director at GSMA and Jacqueline Jumah, director of advocacy and capacity development at AfricaNenda.

Dmytro Tupchiienko, director at Thames Radio Optics, and Deann Evans, Shopify’s managing director of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) will provide industry input.

E-Commerce Trade Commission

One area the panel will explore is the ability of public private partnerships (PPPs) to advance e-commerce.

PPPs, when government and industry pool their resources and undertake a project collaboratively, can offer benefits, such as combining private investment and technology with existing infrastructure.

The E-Commerce Trade Commission reflects this, bringing together Department for Business and Trade expertise, IOE&IT insight, along with industry backing from online marketplace and tech giants, as well as business associations.

Through the commission, regional evidence sessions attended by small businesses will be held over a further 18 months, with the final output being a set of evidence-backed policy recommendations to support SMEs to export.

Reflecting on the inaugural Cardiff session in October, Roe added:

“These evidence sessions provide not only valuable insights into the challenges small businesses are facing when trading via e-commerce which can be fed into government, but also a forum for small businesses to share their experiences and practical solutions with other businesses around the table.

“The Cardiff session was a huge success in this regard and the Commission has scheduled dates and locations for these to be held all around the UK for small businesses to attend and participate.”


The panel will also consider the way in which e-commerce can have a sustainable impact – a timely topic given the UN’s climate conference COP28 began yesterday (30 November).

A number of UN Sustainable Development Goals are encompassed by the panel, including decent work and economic growth, and industry innovation and infrastructure.


Previously named UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week, eWeek will feature over 150 sessions, both virtually and in-person, with more than 3,000 attendees from 130 countries expected.

Other prominent topics include: platform governance, artificial intelligence (AI), empowering women through digital entrepreneurship and accelerating digital readiness in developing countries.