IGF 2017 WS #137 Trust and trade across borders: shaping future international e-commerce from developing countries

Short Title: 
Trust and trade across borders: e-commerce

Proposer's Name: Mr. James Howe
Proposer's Organization: International Trade Centre
Co-Proposer's Name: Mr. Jorij Abraham
Co-Proposer's Organization: The Ecommerce Foundation
Mr. James HOWE, Senior Adviser, International Trade Centre Mr. Jorij ABRAHAM, Managing Director, The Ecommerce Foundation

Additional Speakers: 
  • Adam Schlosser, Project Lead, Digital Trade and Data Flows, World Economic Forum
  • Mme. Korotoum DIABATE – Secrétaire Général – La Poste de Côte d’Ivoire
  • Hanne Melin Olbe, Director Global Public Policy, eBay



Setting the scene: James Howe, Senior Adviser, ITC (7 minutes)

  • What are the barriers to trade across borders as perceived by SMEs from developing countries?
  • In what way does trust impact the ability to trade through e-commerce channels?
  • How is ITC working to reduce these barriers and build trust?

Adam Schlosser, Project Lead, Digital Trade and Data Flows, World Economic Forum (7 Minutes)

  • Impact of new technology on driving trade 
  • Concerns around data protection 
  • Roles of regulators 

Maria Umoren, Alumnus of Judge School of Management (former Relationship Manager, Zenith Bank, Nigeria. 7 minutes)

  • What are the trends in e-commerce usage in Africa?
  • What are the particular barriers to trust in the usage of e-commerce that are experienced in Nigeria and Africa in general?
  • What can be done to reduce barriers of trust and develop e-commerce?

Mme. Korotoum DIABATE, Secrétaire Général – La Poste de Côte d’Ivoire  (en français)

  • Roles that Postal services play in generating trust for E-Commerce
  • Case study - La Poste de Côte d’Ivoire

Hanne Melin Olbe, Director Global Public Policy, eBay (7 minutes)

  • Lessons from the history of ebay: how reputation building between buyers and sellers builds trust and stimulates international trade
  • New opportunities and trends in building trust online and across borders


Facilitated discussion with the floor and selected contributions received online during the opening presentations, 55 minutes

  • How can trust be increased among consumers and professional buyers to engage in cross border trade with firms from developing and least developed countries?
  • What examples can be offered where trust has been improved, and as a consequence cross border trade through e-commerce channels increased?
  • What can be done at an international level to build on these examples and ensure that cross border trade through e-commerce channels is facilitated for firms from developing and least developed countries?


Session Format: Panel - 90 Min

Country: Switzerland
Stakeholder Group: Intergovernmental Organizations

Country: Netherlands
Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Speaker: James Howe
Speaker: Maria Umoren

Content of the Session:
The 90 minute panel discussion will consider how technical, legal and social factors are interconnected in building trust for online trade - and the specificities of this challenge for developing countries. We will review the history for how e-commerce was built in developing countries and compare and contrast with the current situation in developing and least developed countries. New solutions for trust building are possible today, that did not exist at the time where developed countries started their e-commerce booms. We review - and challenge - the notion that legal frameworks and online security solutions alone will drive cross-border e-commerce, and look at the considerable challenge of building confidence between buyers and sellers across cultures, language and distance. We describe a pathway to greater trust - incorporating progress in technologies, legal frameworks and credible information relating to business partners and we identify how this could be applied to boosting access to international online trade for small businesses in developing countries.

Panelists will present complementary perspectives on the challenges, opportunities and potential solutions in 5 short presentations (35 minutes). A moderator will interview panelists and field questions from the public (35 minutes), and will field selected questions received online (from an offstage assistant). The moderator will summarise recommendations including the results of an online survey conducted during the session - open to both external participants and participants in the room.

Relevance of the Session:
Building trust is perhaps the key barrier for small business to conduct international trade. This is not a new problem - trade has always involved trust - but in the digital age there is an acute issue with respect to enabling access to e-commerce in developing countries. Small firms in poor countries wish to "shape their digital future" in trade but are prevented from doing so by barriers to trust among customers in developed countries, even where these countries have in place consumer protection and secure transaction technologies.

Tag 1: Confidence Building Measures
Tag 2: Capacity Building
Tag 3: e-commerce

Mr. James HOWE, Senior Adviser, International Trade Centre, Switzerland
Will set the scene with findings from the field relating to the challenges for SMEs in developing countries to get online and build trust
Moderate interventions

Madame Korotoum DIABATE – Secrétaire Général – La Poste de Côte d’Ivoire,
She will share with the audience her vision of Trust on the Internet, and roles that Posts play on the tangible and intangible benefits and psychology of trust.
Based on her previous experience and background within the National regulator and her legal background, she will explore synergies between the mode of governance of the Internet and Postal regulations, the role of post in the Internet eco-system and Post as key player for the Internet infrastructure in developing countries. To illustrate that, she will explain the e-Commerce strategy of La Poste de Cote d’Ivoire and the concrete deliverable with the project Sanlishop.ci online now

Ms. Maria Umoren, Relationship Manager, Zenith Bank, Nigeria
Will provide testimonial from the African and Nigerian envrionment

Speaker 4 and Speaker 5 will be recruited later - selected from a pool of candidates with experience in e-commerce in developing countries

The 3 initial speakers make contributions from the perspective of International Organisations (ITC), Civil Society (ECommerce Foundation) and the private sector (Zenith Bank). One female participant (Maria) is from Africa. In recruiting the 4th and 5th panelists we will ensure that at least 1 of the 2 is female - so that the panel will either be 40% or 60% composed of women. At least 1 of these additional panelists will be from a developing or least developed country - so that the panel will either be 40% or 60% composed of individuals representing developing countries.

Onsite Moderator: James Howe
Online Moderator: Judith Ueberschaer
Rapporteur: Sibylle Neuhaus

Online Participation:
Online participation will be through a platform to be agreed with the IGF organisers (ITC has WEBEX access if necessary), and will be moderated by Judith Ueberschaer. A summary of key questions will be shared with the moderator to pose to the panel and for reaction from the floor and online during the interactive part of the session.
An online survey will be used to rate the various challenges and solutions proposed, and results will be give at the and of the session.

Discussion facilitation:
James Howe is an experienced panel moderator : there will be a pre-agreed set of questions with panelists which will only be used to initiate debate in the event that questions from the floor (or online) are slow to come or fail to touch key issues.

Conducted a Workshop in IGF before?: No
Link to Report:

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678