Alan Elias of eBay’s Public Policy Lab participated in a panel discussion that examined the digital trade revolution and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) at the Coalition of Services Industries’ Global Services Summit 2017. The theme of this year’s summit was “Charting the Course for Growth” and focused on how services contribute to overall economic growth, including the full spectrum of sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture, and how digital services further promote MSMEs outward expansion and competitiveness. The panel on which Alan spoke delved into how digital trade creates inclusive growth, current regulatory obstacles, and why excluding micro from global is bad trade and economic policy. Representatives from FedEx, Visa, Google and UPS also appeared on the panel.
Alan’s remarks touched on the new model of trade that has emerged in recent years and being driven by the combination of Internet, ecommerce, payment and logistics platforms – what eBay refers to as the Global Empowerment Network – and have dramatically reduced the cost of distance. This is a model based on very small enterprises, is largely package based and a powerful vehicle for connecting the unconnected. He contrasted this with the traditional model of trade characterized by large companies, containerships and tremendous volumes. Alan used the results of research conducted by the eBay Public Policy Lab to demonstrate that MSMEs with access to the Global Empowerment Network via eBay export at unprecedented levels and experience growth rates that exceed their local economies. He also highlighted that this was occurring across advanced and developing economies. Alan concluded his remarks by reinforcing that it was important for governments to recognize that this new model of trade has emerged and represents a new avenue for inclusive small business and economic growth. He emphasized that this change to the global trading system was good and policymakers should focus on removing barriers from legacy systems and organizations that restrict the ability of Internet-enabled MSMEs from accessing global markets.