Since its establishment in 1984, CUTS International (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) has been a leading consumer voice with regards to ensuring consumer sovereignty, rights and welfare – three challenges strongly related to e-commerce.
Being a global independent nonprofit policy research and advocacy organization, CUTS addresses three main thematic areas:
- A Rule-based trade
- An effective regulation
- A good governance
Within these three focus areas, the program offers a various range of services from strategic advice to capacity building based on a bottom-up approach and evidence-based research.
So far, CUTS has promoted competition, regulation, trade and governance reforms across sectors, through evidence-based recommendations in more than 35 countries.
To discover more about CUTS current e-commerce related activities
CUTS actively undertakes capacity building exercises for various categories of stakeholders on e-commerce related issues. Special emphasis is put on strengthening the skills and competencies of:
- local grass-root consumers
- civil society organizations
- small businesses
- women entrepreneurs.
CUTS provides policy makers with strategic advice based on evidence to help them:
- better design and implement policy measures and reforms
- promote and accelerate development and competitiveness in developing countries across sectors, including in the digital economy and e-commerce.
CUTS actively analyses and reviews policies, laws and regulations from various government departments and regulators that work on issues such as:
- Trade and development
- Information technology
The advice consists of advocating sustainable and inclusive strategies, as well as promoting trust, transparency and harmonization at the global, regional, and country level on the drivers and patterns of structural change. At times, CUTS also induces policy makers to introduce new policy laws and regulations.
CUTS conducts and publishes quantitative and qualitative research papers that inform sound digital policy, fair rules and e-commerce readiness on a regular basis.
These publications enable relevant stakeholders based in developing countries to harness the potential of e-commerce for their sustainable development and consumer protection. These papers cover a wide range of digital-related issues such as:
- Data Flows
- Data Localization
- Source Code
- the WTO Joint Statement and Work Programme
- RTA provisions
- Digital payments
- Consumer trust
- Intermediaries, and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, etc.
CUTS organizes policy dialogues on trade and digital-related issues, towards informing policy formulation and negotiations in these areas on a regular basis. Discover a selection of recent dialogues and roundtables below, in the Achievements section.
Meet the beneficiaries
Three online courses on digital commerce: preparing trade professionals for the challenges of the digital economy.
Digital Commerce just-in-time Geneva-based course
Jan – March 2018
Capacity-building for multilateral digital commerce-related negotiations and discussions
An updated edition of the course to Geneva-based diplomats was delivered
- Developing country representatives;
- Geneva-based delegates of developing and least developed countries.
- Blended learning online courses or courses with weekly face-to-face meetings
- Emerging online business models;
- Digital currencies;
- Privacy and data protection;
- Cross-border data flows;
- Data localization;
- Regional trade agreements and multilateral discussions at the World Trade Organization.
A selected example: Digital Commerce just-in-time Geneva-based course
Diplomats who completed the just-in-time course in Digital Commerce were awarded blockchain certificates in addition to the traditional certificate. Each of the 95 trainees (37% women) contributed on average 31 posts to online discussions among course participants.
As reported by a trade negotiator from Kazakhstan:
“The digital commerce course is an excellent opportunity for Geneva-based diplomats to learn about e-commerce from scratch. For me as a diplomat covering e-commerce issues in the WTO, the course came just in time.”
Discover more key findings, data, stories and testimonials about CUTS contribution to the Digital Commerce Capacity Development below.
1) Regional Inclusive Growth in Digital Economy: India Case study (closed)
Within the framework of the Regional Inclusive Growth, this project identified bottlenecks and barriers to the growth of the digital economy in three countries: India, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The study aimed at providing evidence-based recommendations and measures to bolster the digital economy, in the respective jurisdiction. The project ended with a SWOT analysis, considering a situation where all project recommendations are seamlessly adopted and implemented.
Contribution to the Reform in the Digital Payments Sector in India
One concrete output of the ongoing project is the Presentation for RBI Committee on Deepening Digital Payments prepared by CUTS for the Government of India.
To discover more about the Regional Inclusive Growth in Digital Economy project
2) E-Commerce and the African Regional Integration (Ongoing)
Initiated in April 2018, this project aims to ensure that African policymakers and negotiators have a clear understanding of the suitable policy options through which the African continental integration can harness the sustainable development potential of e-commerce, specifically in the context of the AfCFTA.
To discover more about the E-Commerce and African Regional Integration
Data Privacy and Security related studies
1) Cuts initiatives – data protection & privacy
With regards to digital economy, CUTS has been actively highlighting consumers’ perspectives. Initiatives undertaken within the area of data protection and privacy have been briefly summed up in the document below:
To know more about the Cdpp project
CUTS regularly organizes and contributes to policy dialogues on trade and digital-related issues.
1. A selection of digital economy related policy dialogues and roundtables:
Some of the themes have included so far:
- “Digital Economy, Innovation and Competition” (2018)
- “The 4th Industrial Revolution: What is in it for the Multilateral Trading System and Developing Countries?” (2018)
- “The Significance of the WTO Electronic Commerce Declaration” (2018)
- “Platform-based e-commerce: What is at stake for micro, small and medium sized enterprises?” (2018)
- “Consumer sovereignty in times of Data Localisation” (2018)
Discover more about CUTS Work on E-Commerce here
2. ‘Parliamentarians’ Forum on Economic Policy Issues’ – An Expert platform to discuss the divergent opinions on the core economic policy issues
In 2005, CUTS has set up a ‘Parliamentarians’ Forum on Economic Policy Issues’ (PARFORE). It enables parliamentarians across party lines to air their views on a periodic basis on the core economic issues in the field of trade, competition, regulatory reforms, investment and their cross linkages, where research-based inputs for discussions are provided by CUTS.
Programme in a nutshell
Year of creation
Type of business
Capacity buildingPolicy advicePolicy DialogueResearchTechnical assistance
Department for International Development (DFID)Ford FoundationFriedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)International Monetary Fund (IMF)Reserve Bank of India (RBI)UK Federal Trade CommissionUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID)US-India Business CouncilWorld Bank
Number of activities carried out