(FASTNEWS|COLOMBO) – To boost trade within the region, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is working to go hi-tech. “South Asia is emerging as the one of fast-growing regions in the world and is expected to play a dynamic role in shaping the ‘Asian Century’. However the share of trade taking place between South Asian countries is only 5 per cent in comparison to South Asia’s overall trade with the world at 20 per cent” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 13 October in Mt Lavinia.
Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was addressing the opening session of “SAARC CCI’s Regional Workshop on E-Commerce” by Islamabad based SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) at Mt Lavinia Hotel on 13 October.
The interdisciplinary, high profile event to explore the prospects of e-commerce as a medium of trade in the region was joined by South Asia Regional Director of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) Ronald Meinardus, Country Representative of FNF Ms. Sagarica Delgoda, President of SAARC CCI Ruwan Edirisinghe, SAARC CCI’s former Senior Vice President Nawaz Rajabdeen, Secretary General of SAARC CCI Ajith Perera, and more than 20 Representatives from SAARC countries.
Minister Bathiudeen added, “Despite low trade within the region, there are great potentials for using information and communication technologies to contribute to social and economic progress across South Asian Countries. By international standards the e-commerce sector is in its early stage in South Asia. However it is growing at a fast pace and provides a profitable and untapped market for businesses and investors within and across South Asia. The need of the hour is for countries in the region to embrace e-commerce fully as it will enhance their economic and social development. Inadequate infrastructure acts as a major obstacle for e-commerce in this region. The Governments need to invest in legal financial logistical and telecommunication infrastructure which is the backbone of any e-commerce initiative. Despite the challenges, the e-commerce and related sectors in the South Asian countries offer huge business and investment opportunities. I and my Ministry Officials shall extend our fullest support to SAARC CCI when its officials want to link with Sri Lankan Government Officials in taking this initiative forward. Sri Lanka is also fast catching up on the global e-commerce trend.”
“These Colombo sessions overview existing strategies, user experience, discovery, and metrics in current e-commerce business models in the South Asian region and beyond” said President of SAARC CCI Ruwan Edirisinghe, and added, “The session also explores best practices and how to creatively collaborate on strategies, and e-commerce landscape and current trends. Importantly the session evaluates the current policy frameworks on e-commerce and even devising of an e-commerce policy guideline, roadmap and initiatives for SAARC CCI.”
In 2015 the Sri Lanka e-commerce sector grew by a mere one per cent and is now expected to grow by four per cent in the coming years. The total revenue from Sri Lankan e-commerce sector was estimated at USD 8 million in 2016. Sri Lankan e-commerce experts now say that it will grow to USD 4 billion by 2020.
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