EU scientific institute: eBay study part of latest research on e-commerce

March 25, 2013


The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) has published a working paper that brings together finding from recent economic research on cross-border e-commerce. The intention is to make it easily accessible to stakeholders and decision-makers involved in EU digital policy. eBay is proud that the important research we have commissioned in this area features prominently in this paper.

The IPTS is one of seven scientific institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It supports the EU policymaking process through science-based responses to policy challenges with both a socio-economic and a scientific-technological dimension.

The IPTS working paper provides a framework for a better understanding of what the recent economic studies tell us about cross-border e-commerce and public policy:

1.     The effect online trade has on trade costs – While new studies (including eBay’s) find that cross-border online trade significantly reduces distance-related trade costs, linguistic and cultural barriers seem to play a more prominent role online. Can policy efforts help overcome those, e.g. by improving connectivity between online payment systems and promoting efficient parcel delivery systems?

2.     The effect online trade has on consumer welfare – Preliminary estimates (including eBay’s) suggest that shifting towards more online transactions creates consumer benefits such as heightened price competition in online and offline markets, increased variety of supply and consumer choice available through online suppliers, and reductions in consumer transaction costs (time gains, transport costs). What policy measures would boost the consumer welfare impact of cross-border e-commerce, and not only the volume of such trade?

Drawing on the eBay economic research, we published last year a paper offering our views on the future of commerce and on the public policies required to further reduce trade costs and unleash consumer benefits - see the EU and US versions of our paper.