ESCAP

Digital trade regulatory review for Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean 2024

The 2024 edition of the Digital Trade Regulatory Review is a joint report by the three United Nations Regional Commissions (UNRCs) for Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean under the ESCAP-ECA-ECLAC Digital Trade Regulatory Integration Initiative. The report provides a preliminary step towards deepening the understanding of the digital trade policy environment within and between these three regions. It presents an overview of the digital trade policy landscape of 102 economies, based on data as of 2023. The data collection and analysis are based on the ESCAP-ECA-ECLAC common framework of the Regional Digital Trade Integration Index (RDTII) 2nd edition (RDTII 2.0)*. The report also proposes recommendations for enhancing digital trade integration within and between the three regions. 

*Please see the RDTII Version 2.0: A Guide for information about analytical methodology behind the analysis in this report.

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How does digital trade impact women traders?

This paper explores the potential opportunities and challenges digital trade poses for women traders globally and in Asia-Pacific. This paper highlights policy areas using a gendered approach to digital trade. Given the varied and interrelated issues, a public-private-societal effort is needed to help women traders. A mixed methods research approach to conduct situation analysis is used in this paper. It predominantly reviews existing literature, supported by descriptive statistics. A feminist economics lens and intersectional analysis are primarily used to examine how women’s ability to leverage digital technologies for trade varies and how to improve it through policy changes.

At the sociocultural level, education and technology exposure are critical to increase women’s digital readiness and community acceptance of digital trade. These programs must target women and the broader community to destigmatise technology. Financial barriers, such as the cost of ICTs can be addressed through decreasing loan requirements and bolstering community safety net funds.

The new complex problems associated with scaling a business to participate in international trade highlight the need for networking and community building. This can help overcome new professional challenges for women traders after engaging in digital trade. These communities, by women, and for women, can provide professional and sociocultural solutions to potentially help create a better digital trade environment for their members.

To ensure equitable and helpful changes the government must create a better digital trade environment for women. Governments should focus on including more women in the process of policymaking and on formalising platform work to better reflect women’s economic participation and ensure a more accurate representation of women traders’ needs. It should also aid private and community action to support breaking down barriers to women’s involvement in digital trade.

Opportunities do exist for women in digital trade, but to ensure gender equity, public-private-societal efforts are needed to overcome barriers to female entrepreneurs. The issues women face in digital trade must be acknowledged and addressed to implement inclusive and holistic social and economic considerations focused on women’s unique business obstacles.

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