On March 27 eBay launched a policy roadmap for boosting cross-border trade and supporting SMEs as one way to help secure sustainable economic growth. The roadmap argues that new technology tools and policy proposals must be combined to power Europe's efforts to overcome the current economic crisis.
Nicholas Staheyeff, Vice President CEO eBay International AG, said, “Boosting cross-border trade and helping Europe’s entrepreneurs big and small grow their business on- and offline are essential to work our way out of the current crisis. eBay is taking the lead in developing and facilitating new, technology-enabled and consumer-driven commerce, which will stimulate much needed growth. We call it Commerce 3.0 and we are already producing technology tools that enable consumers and retailers to connect, establish trust and transact globally. Such technology tools must now be matched by legislative and policy action to deliver their full potential.”
MEP Cecilia Wikström, who hosted the roadmap’s launch at the European Parliament, said, “If I buy a necklace online but have to wait days or perhaps weeks before I can wear it, e-commerce will lose its charm. Through better cross-border parcel delivery services, simplified VAT and streamlined customs procedures SMEs would be able to expand their businesses, even outside of the EU, and European consumers would enjoy real choice. The increased trade would take us out of the economic crisis faster.”
The roadmap, “Towards Commerce 3.0: Roadmap for Building Sustainable Growth into Commerce”, calls on the European Union to show global leadership by:
- Supporting private-public partnerships for trusted, low-cost and fast cross-border, end-to-end parcel delivery services;
- Simplifying, standardizing and ending discrimination with regard to VAT and customs duties for electronically purchased goods from both EU and non-EU sellers;
- Designing “21st century trade agreements” that create simplicity and transparency for consumers and small merchants;
- Promoting “mutual recognition” of other countries’ customs programs as a key instrument to facilitate international trade flows;
- Adopting a new policy-making mindset towards technology and information society services that embraces experimentation and innovation.
The roadmap is supported by an empirical economic study and analysis of international trade flows and exporting behaviour, comparing offline channels and eBay. The study was carried out by Sidley Austin LLP and Prof. Marcelo Olarreaga of Geneva University. Its findings highlight that trade costs matter 60% less for eBay transactions than for offline trade and that around 80% of sellers, big and small, on eBay sell to five or more foreign countries. This is a far higher number than those who only trade off-line. The study also found that an average increase in real GDP of 15.6% would be hypothetically possible if all international transactions had the same low trade costs as the eBay marketplace.