TRADE and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon was heartened to see the level of e-commerce taking place during the covid19 pandemic has been increasing.
Speaking at a webinar held by her ministry on Friday, Gopee-Scoon said, "It is no secret that this covid19 pandemic has significantly impacted our way of life and reshaped the economic landscape.
"Globally, with increased border restrictions, there is a growing trend in consumers buying more locally-made goods and services. This has been facilitated by the emergence of domestic market platforms in many countries giving rise to a new phenomenon known as 'digital localism.'"
She said this trend was validated in a series of worldwide studies undertaken by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which has shown notable increases in e-commerce activity within countries.
"We are also witnessing this development in TT. Since the start of the pandemic we have noticed a proliferation of domestic e-commerce activity in almost every sector of the economy.
" First Atlantic Commerce, the main payment gateway used in TT, experienced an exponential increase in the number of businesses using its platform to facilitate online payments, rising from 300 to 500 firms from May 2020-May 2021.
"These figures are even higher when we take into account other e-payment providers such as WiPay, e-solutions offered by banks and other online marketplaces and platforms."
With over 16,000 registered MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in TT, she said, "This also underscores the significant number of firms that still have not implemented online payments, and a great opportunity for more firms to facilitate this service."
She said when Government met with private-sector representatives on May 26 to discuss covid19 and economic strategies during the pandemic, "one of the major points was the issue of digitisation and the need to facilitate e-commerce for all businesses, especially MSMEs."
Gopee-Scoon said online platforms provide an avenue for these businesses to go online and avoid the logistical challenges and costs that often serve as a deterrent.
"These platforms provide a digital space for businesses to not only survive but thrive and expand their revenue streams and customer bases." She added, "They are often inexpensive solutions which allow businesses to set up their e-commerce operations, track customers, improve customer experience and expand market reach both locally and internationally."
With digitisation increasing globally, Gopee-Scoon said, "The Government has recognised that businesses require an enabling e-commerce eco-system to better participate in the digital economy." "
To help achieve these goals, Government has been proactively implementing the National E-commerce Strategy since 2017. She also said ExporTT offers a co-financing facility for website development and upgrade in which successful applicants are reimbursed up to 50 per cent of the costs.
Gopee-Scoon also said the ministry and the Bankers’ Association held a webinar on digital payments in February.
"Over 142 entrepreneurs benefited by understanding the range of services available to MSMEs by various commercial banks."