New ecommerce trade commission launched to untap export potential in £9.3bn boost for UK economy

Tue 13 Jun 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham, Thomas Lane
Trade News

Person buying goods on laptop

A new ecommerce commission has been launched today (13 June) to directly advise the government on how to encourage 70,000 UK SMEs to trade internationally online.

The Ecommerce Trade Commission has been convened by the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) and will advise the Department for Business and Trade (DBT).

It includes some of the world’s largest ecommerce platforms – including Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Google and Shopify. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Association of International Courier & Express Services (AICES) are also members.

£9.3bn boost

Establishing this commission was a key recommendation in a 2022 report by the Social Market Foundation, which also found that encouraging SMEs to export online could help boost the economy by £9.3bn.

International trade minister Kemi Badenoch, who is attending the inaugural board meeting for the commission today, has welcomed its launch, saying ecommerce “makes an important and growing contribution to our economy”.

“People up and down the country buy goods online every single day, supporting British businesses to sell around the globe.

“I’m pleased to welcome the new ECommerce Trade Commission, which will bring government and some of the world’s largest platforms together to help businesses do even more trade online.”

Badenoch is being accompanied at the launch event by the newly appointed exports minister Lord Offord.

Unique opportunity

The commission will be chaired by IOE&IT director general Marco Forgione, who said the group has a “unique opportunity to make positive changes that truly support small businesses”.

“Buying goods online has fast become the norm for consumers and UK businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of new trade agreements being signed by the government which have specific provisions, included those relating to e-commerce.

“The level of support we have seen for the Commission, both from industry and from DBT is a reflection of the shared determination to support businesses across the UK access global markets.

“I am excited about what we, together, can accomplish with the Commission over the next two years to produce business-focused policy recommendations which will have a real impact on UK retailers of all sizes.”

Three objectives

The commission will have three main objectives:

  • Simplification – Publish two evidence-based reports that include policy recommendations focused on addressing existing trade barriers, simplifying pathways to trade and incentivising small business participation in international ecommerce
  • Perception – Monitor demand and supply side perceptions of the UK to international customers, regularly benchmarking and measuring British small businesses’ ability to conduct e-commerce trade through regular surveys
  • Promotion – Reach 70,000 businesses by April 2025 through campaign events, educational content and case studies, to improve knowledge and understanding of where businesses can access the support they need

Two year remit

The commission will run for two years during which time it will work towards its objectives of simplifying pathways to e-commerce, addressing the current problems faced by businesses and incentivising SMEs to trade digitally through policy recommendations to the DBT.

The commission’s inaugural board meeting and launch event, held today, was hosted at County Hall in London.


The Social Market Foundation report which recommended the commission, titled ‘Just a click away: How e-commerce can boost UK exports and growth’, was commissioned by Amazon and supported by the IOE&IT.

It found that ecommerce exports generate £100,000 a year in revenues, on average, for retail businesses selling overseas online. This figure jumps to £950,000 a year for firms with 10 or more employees.