Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 15th 2015 Contents BG20 REGIONAL
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 15 • 2015
Electronic commerce or e-com-
merce as it is most often
referred to is defined as com-
mercial transactions conducted
electronically on the Internet;
the buying and selling of goods
and services, or the transmitting of funds or
data, over an electronic network, primarily
the Internet. These business transactions occur
either business-to-business, business-to-con-
sumer, consumer-to-consumer or consumer-
E-commerce is rapidly gaining ground as a
major opportunity factor for trade and devel-
opment in developing countries, due to the
increase of electronic transactions. It therefore
becomes imperative that countries better
understand and master the various aspects of
electronic commerce which exist. The possible
benefits to countries of our region that can
be actualised amongst others are the attaining
of higher levels of international competiveness,
and more active participation in the emerging
global information economy.
Specifically in the area of legislation and
the legal aspects of e-commerce, training on
these issues allow for countries to effectively
establish the legislative framework and reg-
ulatory instruments necessary to manage elec-
tronic commerce, and reap the gains associated.
To effectively appropriate this e-commerce
sector, deeper knowledge of key legal issues
related to e-commerce must be cultivated. We
have to understand why e-commerce laws are
needed and the impact that they can bring to
bear on areas such as:
• Increased participation in regional/global
markets and supply chains
• e-government strategy
• mobile commerce
• e-payment systems and
• cloud computing
The Association of Caribbean States part-
nered with the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the T&T
Government and the Latin American and
Caribbean Economic System (SELA) and hosted
a workshop on "E-commerce Legislation Har-
monisation in the Caribbean" from September
29 to October 2, 2015 in Port-of-Spain.
This workshop engaged regional practitioners
in in-depth discussion and experience exchange
on e-commerce, and e-commerce legislation.
It is useful to share some highlights emanating
from this workshop which identified the pos-
sible way forward for the Caribbean as we
address e-commerce issues.
The Caribbean landscape, as it relates to e-
commerce legislation, is defined by: different
levels of law adoption, this can be attributed
to the lack of capacity of stakeholders and law
enforcement bodies; lack of resources and of
prioritisation in government s portfolio; as
well as lack of mechanisms for coordinating
cooperation between multiple agencies. The
harmonisation of e-commerce legislation
remains a challenge in the region.
The question is: what is the way forward?
Coming out of an intensive week of dialogue
and engagement, the following were identified
as a potential blueprint by which the countries
of the greater Caribbean could follow to achieve
improved e-commerce legislation and har-
• Commitment and ownership at highest
national and regional level (eg East African
Community Task Force on Cyber laws).
• Collaboration among regulatory/statutory
authorities at national and regional levels.
• Public--private dialogue needed for leg-
islation to be successfully enacted and enforced.
• Set up inter-governmental coordination
• Define trainings and awareness-raising
actions for key target groups, including par-
liamentarians, law enforcement agencies and
the private sector.
• Define milestones and monitor develop-
The way forward is also about sharing
resources for shared benefits and development
of domestic/cross-border ecommerce.
• Set informal and formal mechanisms at
national and regional levels;
• Establish promoters of the law reform
• Tap into the existing resources available
from regional and international organisations.
The use of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) has transformed the busi-
ness environment of developing countries, as
Greater Caribbean enterprises are able to par-
ticipate more actively in international trade.
However, in order to fully benefit from the
opportunities offered by ICTs, it is important
that governments adopt legal regimes which
will address the legal challenges linked to e-
Regional training on the issues is one step,
but for advancement and progress to be
achieved there are other specific actions that
must be taken to bring us as a Region closer
to an improved and harmonised legal regime
for ecommerce, and in turn add to our com-
petiveness and sustainable development.
Alberto Duran is the director of trade
development and external economic relations
and Kariyma Baltimore is the adviser of
trade development and external economic
relations of the Association of Caribbean
States. Any comments or feedback should
be submitted to email@example.com
in the Greater Caribbean
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