On October 24, eBay, along with the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), hosted a launch event to release the U.S. version of the Commerce 3.0 report. As in the European report launched in March 2012, Commerce 3.0 – the U.S. report finds that the Internet and mobile technology are lowering barriers to international trade in a revolutionary way, creating new global trade opportunities for very small businesses in particular. Using real trade flow data from eBay’s marketplace, the analysis found that 97 percent of commercial sellers on eBay export. Of these small businesses, more than 80 percent export to five or more foreign countries. In contrast, fewer than 4 percent of offline businesses export and only 14 percent of these offline business exporters sell to five or more countries.
“Thanks to the Internet and mobile technologies, an entire world of small businesses and entrepreneurs can participate in global trade and bring products to world markets. For the first time in history, global trade is open to every business, regardless of size – this is Commerce 3.0.”
Brian Bieron, eBay Inc.’s Senior Director of Federal Government Relations
The event featured Mark Mastandrea, senior director of global fulfillment at eBay Inc., who described eBay’s efforts to help businesses export and reach new markets. “The future of commerce bridges international borders, so we are developing new technology services that will help to streamline shipping to global destinations and help businesses navigate customs policies. We are already producing technology tools that enable consumers and retailers to connect, establish trust and transact globally. Such technology tools should be matched by legislative and policy action to deliver their full potential.”
Jake Colvin, vice president at NFTC, led a panel discussion with representatives from government and the private sector, about crafting trade policy that meets the new realities of small business and 21st century trade. Expert discussants included:
- Ambassador Susan Schwab, Strategic Adviser, Mayer Brown LLP
- Michael Masserman, Executive Director, Export Policy, Promotion and Strategy, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
- Ralph Carter, Managing Director, Legal, Trade, & International Affairs, FedEx
- Chris Chapman, Owner, Loucon LLC, Shady Side, MD
- Brian Bieron, Senior Director, Global Public Policy, eBay Inc.
At the event, eBay released recommendations of how U.S. policymakers can help reduce frictions that stand in the way of small businesses entering, growing and succeeding in world markets. The recommendations included:
- Improve delivery services by harmonizing shipping platforms between countries and creating interoperable systems that both the public and private sectors can utilize;
- Reduce customs complexity for small Internet-enabled merchants by increasing the de minimis threshold in the U.S. and enable ecommerce businesses to accept duty-free returns from their international buyers; and,
- Create innovative trusted trader programs that encourage the participation of small merchants, and harmonize the programs with foreign trusted trader programs through the signing of mutual recognition agreements
The event drew a full house, including attendance by Administration officials from the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representatives’ Office, and national media outlets.