E-Commerce and the Digital Economy

National study on electronic commerce crucial says Foreign Sec. Carl Greenidge

A national study on Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) is necessary and will be very helpful to the entire country since a situational analysis will allow stakeholders to take stock of the work done to date; find the strengths and weaknesses of the current legal and regulatory landscape and identify gaps.

This was posited by Foreign Secretary, Carl Greenidge, during the opening of a National Workshop on E-Commerce, held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, earlier on Thursday.

‘We can set priorities and from this study receive some guidance on the necessary reforms to develop our e-commerce architecture,’ Greenidge told the participants, adding that there is also an international dimension to the exercise.

‘You will hear during the course of today’s seminar that the World Trade Organisation has taken up e-commerce, MSMEs and investment facilitation for development, inter alia, as part of a bundle of new issues on which to negotiate multilateral agreements,’ he explained.

Foreign Secretary Greenidge delivers the keynote address. Also pictured: Dr. Dianna Glasgow, Director of Foreign TradeStakeholders engage in discussions on electronic commerce.

However, Greenidge stated that although most participants agreed that e-commerce and digital trade can support economic development, especially by providing an effective way for small companies in less developed countries to engage in global trade, conflicting views stall negotiation on new e-commerce related rules.

‘In my view, a global regime with equitable rules on which countries engage in these activities are needed. The specifics remain to be agreed.’

He also mentioned that there was need for the digital divide to be bridged.

The Foreign Secretary shared that Government’s Green State Development Strategy embraces the concept of the digital economy as a way to support economic diversification; e-commerce to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and e-government to improve access and efficiency of government services.

‘Pursuant to this strategy, there are several projects to develop the necessary architecture for e-commerce; including the national payment system project to reduce the number of cash-based transactions, the trade facilitation roadmap to reduce customs clearance time and the cost thereof,’ he stated.

Adding that more recently, there has been exponential growth in the number of local companies offering logistics services in Guyana, as well as some initial work having already started on updating Guyana’s intellectual property legislation and cybercrime legislation to protect the public online.

Greenidge said undoubtedly, e-commerce is revolutionising how the world trades. ‘It is arguable that these changes are symptomatic of a paradigm shift in global business. E-commerce can be a catalyst for boosting economic transformation.’

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