Pacific Region’s work on e-commerce highlighted at UNCTAD eWeek
The Pacific was under the spotlight at the UNCTAD eWeek from December 4-8, 2023, in Geneva, showcasing a regional approach to enhancing trade through technology and connectivity.
Centre stage at the UNCTAD eWeek was taken with two High-level sessions featuring ‘A Regional Approach to E-commerce and Digital Trade in the Pacific’ and ‘Donor Roundtable – Enabling Impact at Scale in Supporting Inclusive and Sustainable Digital Economies’.
Prominent officials representing the Pacific included Hon. Mr Manoa Kamikamica, Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications, Henry Puna, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFS) and Ambassador Mere Falemaka, PIF Permanent Representative to the WTO.
In his opening remarks at the High-level session on ‘A Regional Approach to E-commerce and Digital Trade in the Pacific’, Henry Puna, PIF’s Secretary General, stated that “Through the Pacific Regional E-commerce Initiative, we’re weaving a united fabric to fortify our e-commerce environment and digital landscape. This collective effort taps into our Pacific community’s wisdom and shared strengths, complementing national endeavours. It’s about owning our development, steering our Pacific destiny in the digital era with our hands firmly on the wheel.”
Pedro Manuel Moreno, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, emphasised in his address at the Donor Roundtable that “digital transformation has significant potential to reshape the current trajectory of development, with increasing recognition in donors’ development cooperation strategies and commitments.”
At the eWeek, PIF organised two events: ‘Enhancing the Transition from Offline to Online for Small Businesses in the Pacific’ and ‘Empowering Pacific E-commerce Through Data-Driven Decision-Making’. Additionally, PIF contributed to a Global Innovation Forum-led panel on Niue’s Bees.
E-commerce provides significant opportunities for Pacific businesses, enabling market expansion, cost reduction, and overcoming geographical barriers. Ms Candice Guavis, Marketing Manager of the Elefa Handicraft Shop from the Republic of Marshall Islands, highlighted the potential of e-commerce to expand markets for Marshallese handicrafts, ‘through e-commerce, our Marshallese handicrafts have the potential to discover new markets in the Pacific and beyond’.
Represented companies also included Niue Honey, the Pacific Bee Sanctuary, and Samoa’s Vaoala Vanilla. Ms Shelley Burich, Founder of Vaoala Vanilla, shared how e-commerce assisted her business survive the COVID-19 pandemic and now still accounts for around 90 percent of her revenues.
Pictures of the UNCTAD eWeek are available here.
Summaries of all events hosted at the UNCTAD eWeek are available here.
Summary of PIF’s Thematic session on “Enhancing the transition from offline to online for small businesses in the Pacific” is available here.
Summary of PIF’s Thematic session on “Empowering pacific e-commerce through data-driven decision-making” is available here.
Summary of Global Innovation Forum’s Special session on “Bees & Honey: How a small business and a tiny island are using digital technologies and trade to save the world’s bees” is available here.