Studies in Trade, Investment and Innovation No. 91: Selected issues in cross-border e-commerce development in Asia and the Pacific

Report31 Dec 2019

The fascination of all actors – government, the public, business – with the digital economy is easily understood as one looks at the dynamics of its growth. Some studies estimate that the digital economy is worth $11.5 trillion globally, equivalent to 15.5 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and it has grown two and a half times faster than global GDP over the past 15 years. A core part of the digital economy is e-commerce.

This report focuses on a few selected issues related to the development of cross-border e-commerce which should be of interest to Asia-Pacific policymakers, consumers and business alike. These include issues related to an overview of evolving nature and scale; governance from the national to the multilateral level; logistics; and de minimis values. Each one of these topics is reviewed based on available literature and data, and inferences are made with respect to policy implications for developing countries in the region.

The scope of cross-border e-commerce includes trade in goods and trade in services. Given the complexities of definitions and measurements related to cross-border e-commerce, the focus of this report is on cross-border e-commerce involving goods rather than services. It is, however, recognized that services in general, and especially services traded digitally, are increasingly important for developing countries and deserve further studies.