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FEALAC project: Promote the participation of MSMEs in cross-border e-commerce

1 October 2022 to 31 March 2024|Project/Programme

From the COVID-19 pandemic onwards, electronic and digital commerce has grown fast both within and between the economies of the Forum of East Asia and Latin American (FEALAC) countries. For many micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), exporting through e-commerce platforms and other digital channels represents a significant opportunity to access new markets and consumer segments. The proportion of MSMEs’ exports directed to the regional market is higher than that of large companies. Moreover, marketplaces on other continents may also be attractive for MSMEs, especially when they receive support to overcome specific export barriers.

However, many MSMEs face structural internal and external challenges holding back their participation in cross-border e-commerce. These include limited and costly internet access with notable rural-urban gaps, uncoordinated trade facilitation measures, general lack of digital skills and technology uptake, expensive and unreliable last-mile delivery, few digital trade provisions in preferential trade agreements, high levels of informality and low financial inclusion affecting digital payments.

To address some of these challenges, ECLAC and ESCAP are implementing a joint FEALAC project to help its member governments assist businesses in capitalizing on the growing e-commerce markets. It focuses on three main areas for improvement: the lack of timely e-commerce data, the need for better understanding and reform of e-commerce regulations, and the identification of specific challenges MSMEs face in engaging in cross-border e-commerce. The project helps improve data availability on e-commerce trends and regulations through online dashboards and repositories. Also, it assists government officials using these new sources of information through several studies, workshops, and virtual courses.

The project provides a comprehensive approach to addressing the digital divide, promoting regulatory coherence, and supporting MSMEs in leveraging digital opportunities. It deepens the understanding of cross-border e-commerce dynamics. It proposes policy recommendations to enhance MSME participation in digital trade to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable pandemic recovery.

Kick-off webinar FEALAC project MSMEs participation in cross-border goods and services e-commerce in Latin America