Sylvie De Wever (far left) explains the online commerce platform model of trade
Sylvie De Wever, eBay’s GM Latin America and US Exports, participated in a panel discussion on fostering internationalization for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) as part of the Business Forum tied to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference. The dialogue focused on MSMEs as a powerful tool for social inclusion and how countries can design rules for the multilateral trading system that contribute to the internationalization of MSMEs, helping them increase their presence in foreign markets. Representatives from the governments of Mexico and Finland, MasterCard, DHL, and Facebook also appeared on the panel.
Sylvie’s overall message was that the online commerce platform model of trade, which significantly reduces the cost of doing business over distance, extends access to economic opportunities for small enterprises wherever located, and not the least to those in emerging, developing and remote areas, who have been the most excluded from global trade. The eBay Marketplace has been at the forefront of this model of inclusive global trade since its first transaction in which founder Pierre Omidyar sold a broken laser pointer to a buyer in Canada. She noted that over twenty years later, the platform is empowering independent MSMEs to connect with millions of customers in every corner of the globe, starting and growing businesses on their own terms. She highlighted recent eBay Public Policy Lab research showing that in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, MSMEs are utilizing the eBay platform to build a broader customer base and serve on average 23 international markets spanning numerous contents on an annual basis. In contrast, traditional exporting businesses across these countries reach an average of no more than 2 to 5 foreign markets. She also noted that in the majority of these countries, established eBay-enabled MSMEs experienced a growth rate in sales that outpaced their home country’s economic growth rate. In the context of barriers, Sylvie recommended that governments examine impediments to the four enabling factors fueling the online commerce platform model of trade: (1) Connectivity to the internet at low cost and without gatekeepers; (2) Access to global platform-based marketplaces; (3) Access to global online payment services; and (4) Delivery solutions that are affordable and efficient for small parcels. She concluded by highlighting eBay’s partnerships with Mall for Africa and the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Initiative, both aimed at providing greater economic opportunity for African Artisans looking to expand their business to global customers.
The MC11 Business Forum was designed as a platform to amplify the voice of the private sector within the context of the WTO Ministerial Conference with a view to promoting and enriching public-private dialogue about the multilateral trading system and contributing to institutionalize closer engagement between governments and business leaders at the WTO. The WTO Ministerial Conference is the WTO topmost decision-making body. It brings together all members of the WTO and can adopt decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements. This is the first time that the Ministerial Conference had a dedicated event like the Business Forum for the private sector to have its voice hear by global public policy makers.
eBay will continue to participate in these important trade forums on behalf of our customers across the globe.