CUTS's Identity Card

PARTNER
  • Consumer empowerment
  • Governance
  • Competition policy and law Investment
  • Economic and business regulations
  • International trade and development
  • Regional integration and connectivity

CUTS's Exclusive Interview for eTrade for all

July 14, 2021
Q.1
Would you like to tell us how CUTS’ work and activities to pursue social justice and economic equity within and across borders touch upon e-commerce and the digital economy?

R.

Established in 1983 – as a rural development communication initiative – Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International) is at the cutting edge of the consumer movement in India and globally. It has become a leading Southern voice on Rules-Based Trade, Effective Regulations and Good Governance. CUTS International has been working for over three decades towards its Mission: “Consumer sovereignty in the framework of social justice, economic equality and environmental balance, within and across borders”. CUTS International aims at establishing an international economic system, which is based on the principles of social justice, economic equity and environmental sustainability by identifying and addressing ground level challenges/ problems through a combination of Research, Advocacy, Networking, Capacity-building – RANC approach of engagement with all relevant stakeholders. Given this origin and background, the emergence of the digital economy with e-commerce as its centre is providing a plethora of opportunities and challenges to CUTS International towards addressing its credo of enhancing consumer welfare. In this rapidly growing digital economy, CUTS’ evidence-based research outputs and policy outcomes empower policy makers, industry players, regulators and, most importantly, consumers to reap its inclusive benefits

Q.2
What are the key challenges that developing countries will have to tackle in order to fully reap the benefits of e-commerce for sustainable development?

R.

The digital economy is renovating everything from production to consumption. E-commerce is providing a range of benefits to developing countries such as the opening up of new market access opportunities to micro and small business, providing better access with more choice to consumers. It can potentially be the most important instrument to address the first transformative change that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to address – that “leave no one behind”. At a time when the global community is just about a decade away from achieving the SDGs, digital transformation of economic activities has emerged as an opportunity as well as challenge. However, to reap its benefits, developing countries are required to address a number of challenges such as :
● Sub-optimal level of online/internet penetration resulting in digital divide;
● Trust deficit among producers;
● Consumers and service providers;
● Inadequate level of required infrastructure;
● Absence of a balanced regulatory regime governing digital transactions.
As digital operations are rendering physical boundaries obsolete, these complicated challenges cannot be addressed by domestic reforms alone. They require holistic efforts and political will at the global level. International cooperation among multilateral bodies, private sector players and civil society organisations is required to strengthen the governance of e-commerce to achieve its overall purpose for sustainable development.

Q.3
What prompted your organization to join a multistakeholder partnership such as “eTrade for all” and what are your expectations out of it?

R.

‘eTrade for all’ is an important multilateral partnership platform that is bringing global institutions, corporations, non-governmental organisations and individuals on the same page to work in the direction of addressing existing knowledge and policy gaps in the area of the digital economy. CUTS, being an international organisation and working to establish social justice, economic equity and environmental sustainability, takes this platform as a huge opportunity to work alongside like-minded groups of stakeholders to make the digital economy in general and e-commerce in particular an instrument for transformative changes as envisaged in the UN SDGs. In doing to, CUTS will strive to put consumers at the centre of the future discourse on “eTrade for all” initiative.

Q.4
Is there something else you would like to share with the “eTrade for all” family?

R.

Over the last three decades and half, CUTS has experienced an organic and evolutionary growth, marked by a refreshing spontaneity in responding to the need of the hour, particularly those of the developing world. The organisation has been able to do it effectively by addressing contemporary and emerging issues of economic governance at national, regional, and 2 international level through exchange of ideas and experiences between and among the state, business and the civil society. Along with enhancing consumer welfare, it has endeavoured to foster economic democracy in the developing world. At present, CUTS operates out of:
● Three Programme Centres in Jaipur and one in Chittorgargh, India
● An Advocacy Centre in New Delhi and a Resource Centre in Kolkata, India
● Six overseas centres in Lusaka, Nairobi, and Accra (Africa), Hanoi (Vietnam), Geneva (Switzerland), and Washington DC, (USA)

Major areas of work include:
● consumer empowerment
● governance
● competition policy and law
● investment
● economic and business regulations
● international trade and development
● regional integration and connectivity
This range of work in terms of issues and geography puts CUTS in a unique place to contribute towards the goals and objectives of the “eTrade for all” initiative from diverse perspectives.

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