REMARKS: DFAT Assoc. Secretary Yeend to Pacific E-Commerce Portal Launch, Graduation

Pacific Islands Forum: Launch of the Pacific E-commerce Portal

and

Pacific E-commerce Disciplines Course Graduation
Associate Secretary Yeend – Third Keynote Address 

Introduction
• Minister Koya, Secretary-General Puna, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be joining you today.
• My thanks to the Pacific Islands Forum for this opportunity to participate in the Launch of the Pacific E-commerce Portal and Graduation ceremony for the Pacific E-commerce Disciplines course.
• Australia is a strong supporter of the Pacific E-commerce Initiative – a truly collaborative example of the region’s commitment to economic development and the enhancement of e-commerce opportunities.
• We are very pleased to have supported the Pacific E-commerce Portal, which aligns so well with the technology and connectivity focus of the Pacific 2050 Strategy.

E-commerce and economic recovery
• There is no doubt that Covid-19 has helped to demonstrate the importance of technology to the global supply chains and the global economy.
• At the same time, it has highlighted the numerous challenges faced by developing countries and LDCs in maximising the benefits from e-commerce
o the Pacific E-commerce Portal is specifically designed to try to address some of these challenges and I will talk more about these later
o but first I want to touch on the opportunities
• E-commerce, digital trade, and the digital economy provide an enormous and transformative opportunity to accelerate economic recovery and resilience, while also promoting inclusive development.
• The digital economy presents opportunities to reduce trade costs, improve productivity and increase ability to participate in export markets.
• Digital trade is especially important for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and women traders
o access to cheaper, more sophisticated, and diverse digital inputs can help overcome the costs facing smaller and marginalised groups and improve their export competitiveness.
• Recent OECD and WTO publications have shown that:
o on average, between now and 2030, global trade growth will be 2 percentage points higher per annum as a result of digital technologies, and
o for developing countries, this growth will be 2.5 percentage points higher per annum and will be more pronounced the faster technology is adopted.
• Digitalisation can also help countries draw greater benefits from regional trade agreements.
• Developing countries recognise this and have prioritised e-commerce development and digital transformation in their aid for trade policies.

Australia’s support for E-Commerce in the Pacific
• Governments and businesses alike need to increase their engagement with digital trade and e-commerce to diversify and optimise access to international markets and promote recovery, resilience, and sustainable growth.
• Australia is committed to supporting our development partners to do this through our aid for trade initiatives.
• In addition to our work with the Forum on the Pacific E-commerce Initiative, Australia supports a range of other e-commerce activities in the Indo-Pacific.
• For example, the E-commerce Aid for Trade Fund has helped governments, development partners, and the private sector get the most out of digital trade, it has
o supported the Forum’s development of the Pacific E-Commerce Strategy and Roadmap, and
o supported activities in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, such as the development of national e-commerce roadmaps and tourism booking platforms.
• Australia wants to continue this kind of collaboration with our Pacific family in support of inclusive trade outcomes in e-commerce and digital trade,
o to help with access to trade finance,
o to help re-establish markets and global value chains, and
o in particular, to help meet the needs of MSMEs and women traders.
• It is vital that MSMEs and women traders – both key drivers of global recovery and growth – are able to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.
• Australia has also established with the World Bank a new Digital Advisory and Trade Assistance Fund (DATA Fund), which will help
o countries adopt policies and regulations that enhance trust in digital markets, making it easier to do business online, and
o support capacity building through specialised training – like that received by today’s graduates of the Pacific E-commerce Disciplines course.

Pacific E-Commerce Portal
• In addition to support that aims to help developing countries take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital trade, we also need to assist our Pacific family to address the associated challenges.
• UNCTAD has identified that the main e-commerce-related challenges facing developing countries are infrastructure, skills, access to ICT and finance, reliable e-payment platforms, and inefficient trade facilitation and logistics.
• The Pacific E-Commerce Portal will help the region to address these challenges.
• It will provide a comprehensive range of information on e-commerce, capacity building activities, and opportunities.
• And will help policy makers and the private sector to engage in the digital economy in an informed and coordinated way.
• Australia is proud to have contributed to the Portal, and I congratulate to all those involved in its development. — ENDS