Targeted assistance for the development of an enabling environment for e-commerce in the Pacific Region

The Project at A Glance

Description: The Forum Island Countries (FICs) are scattered over a vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and are mainly small, low-lying coral atoll nations mostly reliant on agriculture, fisheries, and tourism. The adoption and diffusion of Information, Communication and Technologies (ICT) have brought rapid growth of digitisation in Pacific economies. Several measures have been taken in strategic areas of digital development, such as ICT infrastructure and connectivity, policy reforms and sector regulations, at both national and regional levels.
International Economics supported the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to assess the opportunities for and the underlying obstacles to the development of e-commerce in the Pacific Region, and to develop, validate and disseminate a regional and sub-regional e-commerce strategy with a corresponding roadmap for implementation. Broadly, this project aims to contribute to sustainable economic development and poverty reduction in the Pacific region by addressing the obstacles which undermine the development of e-commerce.

What We Found

Overall, the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) revolution has brought rapid growth of the ICT sector in Pacific economies. A number of factors are driving this revolution especially the de-regulation and liberalisation of the telecommunications sector throughout the Pacific in the 2000s. The ICT revolution is particularly transformative due to its potential to address the region’s demographic, geographic and economic challenges. Most of the region’s population is dispersed through hundreds of islands within an area of almost one third of the globe’s surface, thus distancing the region from global economic centres. Challenges such as this can be addressed through ICT advancements and in turn through E-commerce adoption.
In this context, E-commerce holds immense potential for the Pacific region, in particular, to help overcome the main challenges of remoteness from the main international markets, poor connectivity between and within the Forum Island Countries, and lack of economic opportunities for disadvantaged rural communities.

Our Strategy and Impact

IEC’s approach included research and analysis via a review of national strategies and policies and current practices related to critical areas for eCommerce; interaction with the countries’ public and private stakeholders complemented through workshops and validation workshops as well as consultations with stakeholders located in Forum Island Countries and Melanesian Spearhead Group countries and additional gathering of information through electronic means and questionnaires.
Specific activities include conducting and drafting an e-commerce assessment for the whole Pacific region with a separate section dedicated specifically to MSG; drafting Pacific and MSG e-commerce strategies based on the consolidated situation analysis and contents of the e-commerce assessments; preparing an Implementation Roadmap for sequencing reform and to achieve an enabling environment for e-commerce for the Pacific and MSG. The study found that E-commerce in the Pacific is at a nascent stage. While some sectors and countries are observing growth in activity, for E-commerce to flourish, the crucial constraints highlighted in the study need to be addressed through a comprehensive regional initiative. Forum Island Countries should establish a comprehensive plan to enhance the current E-commerce enabling environment as a basis for accelerating the adoption of eCommerce.

Our Core Solutions

E-Commerce and digital trade are an increasingly important way for businesses to transact with customers, creating immense opportunities, facilitate innovation, enhance competitiveness, and improve access in local and global markets.
International Economics Consulting provides advice and solutions on some of the latest emerging trends in e-commerce and digital trade such as paperless trading, e-payments, online consumer protection and data protection. We assist governments and businesses worldwide in creating an enabling environment for e-commerce and digital trade, to maximise economic growth and development.

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Project Areas