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30 November 2022, 08:00 - 10:15 Indochina Time / Bangkok | Open meeting

Header 21.11.22

The COVID-19 pandemic and containment measures have strongly impacted many member countries of the Forum for East Asia–Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), altering the activities and business models of companies, especially micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), and shopping habits. In this context, electronic and digital commerce showed unprecedented growth as businesses and consumers turned to digital channels to maintain their activities. Important bottlenecks in Latin America and some East Asian countries, however, have restricted the push towards digital trade in general and the participation of MSMEs in particular.

In this context, a new FEALAC project will respond to some urgent need for governments -with support from ECLAC and ESCAP- to step up their assistance to businesses, in particular MSMEs, to reap the benefits from the rapidly growing domestic and international e-commerce markets. Given these organizations’ expertise, this assistance focuses on three areas that represent major challenges for cross-border e-commerce in the FEALAC economies:

  1. The lack of timely data to monitor trends in both domestic and international e-commerce marketplaces. To better assess the supply and demand of domestic and cross-regional e-commerce, it would also be useful to strengthen the technical capacity of national statistical offices in selected countries to collect domestic and cross-border e-commerce data.
  2. Regulations potentially affecting cross-border e-commerce. In collaboration with OECD and the European University Institute (EIU), ECLAC and ESCAP have collected and analyzed data on 22 Asia-Pacific and 13 Latin American economies. The expansion of the regulatory analysis to cover more countries both in East Asia and Latin America as well as deepening the analysis on e-commerce regulations would allow stakeholders in FEALAC member countries to better understand the digital-trade regulatory environment in their own- and partner economies. It could help governments to design effective policies and actions to assist domestic firms, MSMEs in particular, to fully utilize opportunities created by digital technology and e-commerce.
  3. Factors that limit the MSMEs’ participation in cross border e-commerce. ECLAC and ESCAP have been monitoring several policy initiatives related to promoting the participation of MSMEs in e-commerce. Most initiatives seem to focus on the home market. Only few strategies were identified that targeted digital exporters or women digital entrepreneurs. A more complete inventory and analysis of these policy initiatives would allow FEALAC countries to better benchmark their own initiatives to those of their peers and fill in possible gaps in their support system.

2. Goals and target audience

This meeting aims to receive guidance on the implementation of ECLACESCAP’s FEALAC project on the MSMEs participation in cross-border goods and services e-commerce in Latin America. The target audience is experts and representatives from Ministries in charge of trade, economy and MSMEs in FEALAC member countries.

3. Structure

This two-hours webinar has two sessions. The first session discusses the project components related to evidence-based e-commerce policymaking. Experts will be invited to share experience on collecting preliminary evidence on trends in domestic and cross-border e-commerce using data on visitor traffic and marketplace characteristics.. The second session focuses on the project components aiming to enhance the supportive regulatory environment to promote the opportunities of MSMEs in e-commerce. Experts will share experience on the methodology to measure regulations on cross-border e-commerce and digital trade in goods and services in both regions; and review strategies for business process analysis applied to MSMEs in E-commerce.

Welcome remarks

Rupa Chanda
Director, Trade, Investment and Innvation Division, United Nations ESCAP (pre-recorded)
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Rupa Chanda is the Director of Trade, Investment and Innovation. Prior to that, she was a Professor of Economics at IIM Bangalore and the Dean of Programmes at the institute. She has worked as an Economist at the IMF and briefly served as Head, UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia in New Delhi. Prof. Chanda received her PhD in Economics from Columbia University and her Bachelor’s from Harvard University. She teaches Macroeconomics and International Trade and has received teaching awards. Her research interests include the WTO, trade in services, regional integration and migration. She hasundertaken research and professional assignments forinternational and Indian organizations and has published extensively in the form of books, journal articles, book chapters, and reports. She is active professionally as a research guide, reviewer, and member of several expert committees. She was member of the WHO’s Review Committee on the functioning of the International Health Regulations (2015-16) and  the WHO’s Expert Advisory Group, International Recruitment of Health Personnel (2019-20).

Keiji Inoue
Officer in Charge, International Trade and Integration Division, ECLAC (pre-recorded)
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Keiji Inoue is officer in charge of the International Trade and Integration Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile. He was formerly the macroeconomic analyst for the region in the Development Policy and Analysis Division at DESA at the UN headquarters in New York. He was also coordinator of the Secretary General’s Millennium Development Goals Task Force, analyzing and monitoring MDG 8. Inoue began his career at the United Nations in 1995 as a fiscal policy expert in the Economic Development Division at ECLAC. 


Intaek Choi
Director, Latin American and Caribbean Cooperation Division, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea
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Enrique Rafael Descalzi Mendez
Sub director of Special Fora, APEC Directorate and Specialized Forums and General Directorate for Asia and Oceania, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peru
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Session 1: Collecting evidence on trends in domestic and cross-border e-commerce

Kati Suominen
Founder and CEO, Nextrade Group
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Kati Suominen is the Founder and CEO of Nextrade Group that helps governments, multilateral development banks, and Fortune 500 technology companies enable trade through technology. Nextrade's more than 50 clients include the World Bank, IFC, IDB, ADB, USAID, UK FCDO, Mastercard, Visa, Google, and eBay, among many others. Dr. Suominen has ideated and built dozens of data and analytical products and pilot initiatives as well as eight global initiatives and public-private-partnerships to enable digital trade - including, most recently, the Alliance for eTrade Development I and II between 14 leading companies and USAID to enable SME ecommerce in developing nations. She also serves as Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Adjunct Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Earlier in her career, she served as Trade Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank and Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Dr. Suominen is the author and editor of over 120 papers and 10 peer-reviewed books on trade, globalization and technology with leading academic presses, most recently Revolutionizing World Trade: How Disruptive Technologies Open Opportunities for All (Stanford University Press, 2019). She is a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. PhD, University of California, San Diego; MBA, Wharton School of Business; MA Boston University. 

Mr. Johan Mulder
Chief, International Trade Unit, International Trade and Integration Division, ECLAC
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Bernardo Astarloa
ECLAC (pre-recorded)
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Session 2: Regulations and MSMEs’ competitiveness in cross-border e-commerce

Ms. Martina F. Ferracane
ESCAP-ECA-ECLAC consultant, European University Institute (online)
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Martina is passionate about policy-making and technological innovation. She is a Research Fellow at the European University Institute, where she manages the Digital Trade Integration Project. Her research covers digital trade, data governance, and digital education. Martina founded and manages FabLab Western Sicily, a non-profit organisation that brings creative digital education to Sicilian schools and she was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 for her work with Oral3D, a start-up in the area of 3D printing and dentistry. For her work in these areas, she was listed in 2018 among the 15 most influential Italian women on digital issues. She acts regularly as a consultant for several institutions including the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the World Bank.

Tengfei Wang
Economic Affairs Officer, Trade Policy and Facilitation Section, Trade Investment and Innovation Division
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Mr. Tengfei Wang joined the United Nations ESCAP as an Economic Affairs Officer in 2008. Since then, he has been working on the areas related to trade and transport facilitation, digital economy, technology and innovation. Currently, his work is mainly focused on implementing the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, providing advice to governments and undertaking studies on topics pertinent to trade facilitation, paperless trade and digital economy. In his career, he drafted a large number of UN legislative documents, guidebooks and reports. He was instrumental for developing the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business Recommendation 42. Furthermore, his publishes extensively in peer-review academic journals on trade, logistics and digital economy. His publications have been cited for over 3,800 times. He earned his PhD from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and was the winner of 'Palgrave Macmillan' global PhD thesis competition (2002-2005).

for more information, please contact

Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
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