The funds will support activities that can enable more countries to engage in and benefit from the evolving digital economy.
UNCTAD deputy secretary-general Isabelle Durant and Didier Chambovey, ambassador of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization and the European Free Trade Association, after signing an agreement.
Switzerland has announced a contribution of $4.4 million (4 million Swiss francs) to UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy programme.
The funds to be provided through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) will support the programme’s technical cooperation, research and consensus-building activities until 2024.
UNCTAD and Switzerland signed an agreement on 13 September.
“We sincerely thank Switzerland for the generous contribution,” said Isabelle Durant, deputy secretary-general of UNCTAD. “The financial support will enable us to scale up our efforts to foster more inclusive and sustainable development gains from e-commerce and the digital economy for people and businesses in developing countries.”
“Switzerland is proud to contribute to UNCTAD’s programme on e-commerce, which supports the establishment of favourable framework conditions for e-commerce in developing and least developed countries,” said Didier Chambovey, ambassador of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization and the European Free Trade Association.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed, a robust e-commerce ecosystem is needed to maintain trade flows and mitigate economic and social consequences in times of crisis, particularly in the most vulnerable countries.”
Spreading the benefits of the digital economy
The UNCTAD programme aims to reduce inequality, enable the benefits of digitalization to reach all people and ensure that no one is left behind in the evolving digital economy.
The Swiss contribution will boost the programme’s ability to respond to the growing demand from countries for UNCTAD’s support, not least in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has accentuated the need to support countries with the lowest levels of readiness to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks presented by digitalization.
Committed to digitalization
The contribution demonstrates Switzerland's commitment to strengthening its support to digitalization in line with its International Cooperation Strategy for 2021-24 and its Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021-2024, both of which recognize the role of digitalization in meeting current and future development challenges.
The contribution will finance at least three eTrade readiness assessments, which will provide a diagnostic of the state of e-commerce in the countries concerned, covering seven policy areas considered most relevant for e-commerce development. It will also build on a close collaboration with selected eTrade for all partners.
In 2020, Switzerland topped UNCTAD's Business-to-Consumer E-commerce Index, which ranks 152 countries on their readiness to engage in electronic commerce.
It scored highly across all four dimensions of the index, with 97% of the population using the internet (2019) and 98% of the population aged 15 and older having a bank account (2017).
It also ranked 7th in the world in terms of postal reliability according to the Universal Postal Union, and 5th among the countries included in the index for secure server density, a proxy for online stores.