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ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

ILO's Exclusive Interview for eTrade for all

July 14, 2021
Would you like to tell us how ILO’s work and activities specifically touch upon e-commerce and the digital economy?


The 108th International Labour Conference adopted a landmark ILO Centenary Declaration that is focused on the future of work. The emergence of new technologies and means of production, coupled with the desire to improve work-life balance, has led to the development of new business models and new forms of work. ILO is now focusing its work to ensure that these new technologies and business models ensure a just transition to a future of work that contributes to sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental dimensions and harnesses the fullest potential of technological progress and productivity growth to achieve decent work and sustainable development.

According to your organization, 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?


  • Developing countries will need to address the skills gap to ensure workers acquire the skills, competencies and qualifications to productively participate in the new economy;
  • It also essential that the policy environment is addressed to ensure that the small enterprises and private sector are able to harness the full potential of the new business models and modes of work.
  • E-commerce and the digital economy poses certain risks to developing countries’ economies including the private sector and workers. These risks include more informality, unfair competition and dilution of national laws and standards.  Developing countries must develop policies to mitigate these risks.
  • The other challenges include ownership rights over data and revenue losses that might arise due to the decline in indirect taxes, which would have implications on social expenditure especially social protection, health and education.
  • Development of affordable digital infrastructure.
The digital economy brings about new opportunities and challenges for employers and employees alike. What type of support do you offer to mitigate the negative impacts of e-commerce on employment and labour laws, and to ensure that the digital economy brings benefits to all?


  • Strengthening the institutions of work to ensure adequate protection of all workers, and reaffirming the continued relevance of the employment relationship so as to ensure employment and social protection to workers. A number of ILO Conventions and recommendations provide guidance towards ensuring decent work and effective transition towards Further, ILO’s Global Commission on Future of work, reiterates that all workers regardless of their contractual arrangement or employment status, must equally enjoy adequate labour protection to ensure humane working conditions for everyone.
  • The ILO’s Global Commission on Future of work calls for an international governance system that requires platforms to respect certain minimum rights and protections. It also calls for regulation of data use and algorithmic accountability in the world of work, as well as reformed taxation systems to ensure companies with highly digitalized business models pay a fair share of taxes.
  • Work within the initiative and in partnership with ILO constituents to develop effective policies aimed at generating full, productive and freely chosen employment and decent work opportunities for all, and in particular facilitating the transition from education and training to work
What prompted ILO to join a multi-stakeholder partnership such as “eTrade for all” and what are your expectations out of it?


The challenge presented by the future of work requires that ILO work together with other similarly aligned organizations to be able to have the desired impact. The “eTrade for all” partnership offers the opportunity to collaborate and coordinate ILO’s efforts to achieve synergies and avoid duplication of effort as well as ensure that the principals of decent work and sustainable enterprises are at the forefront of the initiative.

Is there something else you would like to share with the eTrade for all community?


The ILO is excited to join the “eTrade for all” partnership. The organization is actively engaged in the debates on digital economy and identifying knowledge gaps related to digital skills, working conditions and social protection, competition to firms, etc. and contributes on these fronts through research and policies such as employment, skills, social protection and enterprise promotion.  ILO intends to make an important contribution to the partnership.