Making E-Commerce Work for Development

Organised by
ICTSD and Government of Finland
14 November 2018
Geneva, Switzerland

E-commerce discussions in Geneva, in regional capitals, and beyond are grappling with the challenges of formulating appropriate policy responses to the digital transformation of trade. The literature is clear, e-commerce has the potential to bring significant development benefits, but these will not be automatic. Moreover, significant gaps in capacity, capital and skills could imperil the equitable distribution of the benefits of digital transformation and prevent them reaching the world’s poor.

Moving from the theoretical to the practical is a challenge. The rise of the digital economy is marked by an increasing concentration of market shares, and a growing sense of tension between the public interests and the consolidation of big data based companies. Governments, particularly in the developing world, look at this situation with scepticism and wonder what is needed to evolve from takers to value creators.

This workshop will look at the relationship between e-commerce and development both from a policy and a trade negotiations perspective. In doing so, we will address questions around the nature of special and differential treatment and its evolution, the relevance of competition policy in the context of the digital economy, and the shaping of trade negotiations, particularly at the WTO.

Attendance to this event is by invitation only.

The context setting is done by Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Chief Executive of ICTSD.

Jorge Arbache is Vice President for Private Sector at the Development Bank of Latin America, CAF, in Lima, Peru. Previously, was Secretary of International Affairs of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management, Brazil and Executive Secretary of the Brazil-China Investment Fund. He was also Chief Economist in the Ministry of Planning in Brazil; Senior Economic Advisor to the Presidency of BNDES and Senior Economist at the World Bank in Washington, DC. He is also professor of Economics at the University of Brasilia. Arbache has more than 28 years of experience in the areas of government, academia, international organizations and private sector. His interest lies in economic growth agendas and sectoral policies including international trade, investment, productivity, competitiveness, innovation, digital economy, industry and services. He is the author of four books and dozens of scientific articles published in international academic journals. He is founder of the blog, which is the main forum of discussions regarding services and the digital economy in Brazil. He has a degree in Economics and in Law and PhD in Economics from University of Kent (UK).

Associate Professor of Law,Singapore Management University; Dongfang Scholar Chair Professor, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade; Advisory board, WTO Chairs Program. Former: Deputy Director, East Asian International Economic Law and Policy Program, University of Hong Kong; Law Instructor, University of Hong Kong; Instructor, IELPO program (Barcelona) and Academy of International Trade Law (Macau); Academic Coordinator, first Asia-Pacific Regional Trade Policy Course officially sponsored by the WTO; Chinese lawyer at the WTO Secretariat. Widely published on issues relating to China and WTO. Has advised many national governments as well as the WTO, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, APEC and ASEAN on trade issues.

Founder & CEO of Nextrade Group that helps governments and Fortune 500s optimize public policies and investment in driving trade and ecommerce worldwide; and Founder and Chairwoman of TradeUp Capital Fund, a growth capital platform for globalizing tech companies to raisedebt and equity from institutional investors. Adjunct Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management; writing 10th book on international trade. Idea woman behind international initiatives such as eTrade for All now championed by the United Nations, and RTA Exchange, a global dialogue forum on regional trade agreements led by the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks with ICTSD. High-level speaking engagements on trade, e.g. at Davos, World Trade Symposium, Global Trade Review conference, WTO, etc. Senior Advisor to the B20-affiliated World SME Forum. Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. MBA, Wharton; PhD, UC San Diego.

Colette is an international trade lawyer working at the intersection of law, trade policy, and development. She is the founder and director of the Trade for Development Initiative at Sidley Austin – a pro bono program for developing countries – and works as an independent consultant for governments and international organizations. Previously, Colette worked as an associate in Sidley’s international dispute settlement practice, representing governments in WTO disputes. Colette has worked for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia, researched agricultural policy in India, and advised on trade and development questions in Rwanda and Tanzania. Colette holds a J.D. from the Harvard Law School and an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She publishes regularly on issues related to the WTO, trade and sustainable development. Colette is fluent in English, Dutch, French and Spanish.


This event is organised with the generous support of The Goverment of Finland.

Maison de la Paix, Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2, 1202 Genève